Via Media

The latest stats on Catholic life in the US, courtesy of the 2006 Official Catholic Directory:

The Catholic population rose about 1.3 million last year, to 69,135,254, the directory said.

However, the number of students in Catholic high schools dropped to just under 680,000, a decline of 13,000. Elementary schools enrolled 1.76 million children, almost 84,000 fewer than the year before.

The number of teachers in Catholic schools dropped by nearly 8,000, to just under 173,000.

There were some 729,000 high school students enrolled in parish religious education programs, 26,000 fewer than the previous year. Elementary students in religious education numbered nearly 3.5 million, but the total was 81,000 below the previous year’s figure.

In all, the number of Catholic children receiving faith formation in Catholic schools or religious education programs last year was 204,000 lower than the year before.

Catholic colleges and universities reported 764,000 students, about 9,000 fewer than the year before.

In key sacramental moments, according to the directory:

—There were only about 212,000 church-recognized marriages last year, 11,000 fewer than the year before.

—Confirmations numbered more than 630,000, down 15,000 from the year before.

—First Communions numbered nearly 833,000, a drop of almost 40,000.

—Infant baptisms totaled 943,000, down by 34,000.

—Adult baptisms and receptions into full communion totaled more than 154,000, about the same as the year before.

—There were 438 priestly ordinations, 29 fewer than the year before.

The article notes one typo: The Diocese of Brooklyn has 800 orphanages – imagine that.

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