Dear National Catholic Reporter, Don’t Fudge Parish Numbers

Through Catholic Lenses | 7/17/2019 | Staff
TitanSwimrTitanSwimr (Posted by) Level 3
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Last week, the National Catholic Reporter came out with a story about a parish they see as a model parish. However, the story exaggerated the parish reach and it misunderstood the sacrament of orders.

St. William Catholic Church is a parish in Louisville run by a layperson. The archdiocesan website lists a lay “Pastoral Administrator,” and a retired priest as the “Sacramental Moderator.” The parish’s Facebook page lists a bunch of events with a focus on protests for immigrants and interfaith services. The NCR article indicated it became a sanctuary church in the 1980s and they help buy old houses, fix them up and rent them out at affordable prices.

St - William - Irish - Parish - Bishop

In 1969 St. William was declining as an Irish ethnic parish, so the bishop put it under the direction of a young priest. With this new priest, “Out went the Gothic altar; in came a plain wooden table. Out went the pews; in came chairs that could be rearranged as wanted. Out went Gregorian chant; in came guitar Masses.” In 1990, a layperson became the administrator.

After the 1969 reforms, NCR states, “Within a few years, St. William became one of the most popular churches in the city, drawing people from around the archdiocese and even from Indiana, across the Ohio River.” Later, it repeats, “St. William is one of the most successful parishes in Louisville.”

Numbers - Story - Article - St - William

This seems incorrect. The numbers tell a very different story. A 2002 article mentioned that St. William had 442 members. I could not find the average parish size for 2002 but in 2000, it was 855 households, and in 2010 it was 1,167 households. If we assume a constant growth rate from 2000 to 2010 and assume that an average US parish household is the same as the US census average, we get the average parish with 2,367...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Through Catholic Lenses
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