Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pray to Saint Prospectus before you invest

Our pastor addresses Sunday Mass attendance in his column in the November 8, 2009 bulletin (page 2).
A few weeks ago, we were required to take the semi-annual Mass attendance count and send the results to the Archdiocese. As I compare the results over the last ten years, they are remarkably stable. In all these years, there has been no more than a 10% variance from year to year for this fall count. Some years a few more, some years a few less in attendance. This year was one of the higher attendance figures.

In gross number or percentage of members? He doesn't exactly specify, but does say "our attendance is about 30 percent of our registered membership." The parish Status Animarum (1993-2006) includes these figures from the last ten years.
Year: Attendance/Membership (=) Percentage
2005 2,344/8,817 26.5%
2004 2,567/8,531 30%
2003 2,465/8,627 28.6%
2002 2,758/8,484 32.5%
2001 3,024/8,515 35.5%
2000 2,888/8,416 34.3%

Even without subsequent years, 30% is not "one of the higher attendance figures". The recent parish census total came in at just over 7,000 members, as I recall. That was a reduction from almost 9,000 members that had been shown on the books. Cutting the membership denominator would, in itself, increase the attendance. (See The 40% Solution applied) Thirty per cent of the updated figure would give an attendance number lower than every year shown above.

Over the past year I've been trying to obtain an update of the Status Animarum, putting off inserting a dollar amount on the annual pledge card in the meantime. The parish eventually wound up referring me to the Archdiocese, which recently wound up concluding I would have to get the pastor to request the report. At this point, I'd want to see the report and the parish plan to move the numbers in a positive direction. By that I mean more than our pastor's plan.
If you have the opportunity, please invite those whom you might know to be members but do not come to Mass to join you.

Compare that to the effort that goes into a capital campaign. If fund-raising got the same effort as evangelization does, it would be an appeal to donate any coins you found on the pavement.

Speaking of numbers, when I was on the Parish Council in the late 1990s, I suggested the parish publish an annual report on all its activities, not just financial reports. Maybe showing what's accomplished with the money would give more reason to participate, as well as more reason to give. Turns out much of the statistical information was and is available.

During that time on the council, we went through long range planning for the parish and the Archdiocese. We weren't provided these Archdiocesan statistics in connection with those processes. At dotCommonweal, "unagidon" posted on the pending federal health care legislation that "What I see here is that we have hardly left the brain storming sessions." That aptly describes a major problem with Archdiocesan and parish planning as well.



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