Recently in his weekly column “A Note from Fr. Mark” to members of the Catholic Community of Pleasanton, Rev. Mark Wiesner, shared some rather uncomfortable observations in the parish bulletin about the October Count. The title of the column was “Something’s not right.”
That “something” had to do with trends revealed from numbers compiled from the annual head count of parishioners since the year 2000. “The October count numbers for our parish are both interesting and concerning,” the pastor wrote in the Sept. 29 bulletin.
In 2000, the year that St. Elizabeth Seton Church opened, the October Count was 3,371, “meaning on average 3,371 people attended Mass in the parish on weekends,” Father Wiesner wrote. While the parish’s October Count in 2012 reached a high of 4,492, in every year since then the yearly attendance numbers has shown a decline: from 4,030 in October 2015 to 2,799 in October 2018.
Calling these figures “particularly pronounced and disturbing,” Father Wiesner noted that he shared this information with the parish’s pastoral council, finance council and parish staff to launch discussions on the causes of the decline and to explore ways to begin addressing the causes of it.
The drop in Mass attendance figures is not confined to the Pleasanton faith community. The October Count has revealed that total Mass attendance across the diocese has been declining and “some deaneries and regions have more declines than others,” according to Mary Fair who crunched the numbers from the October Count spanning the past 19 years for the Diocesan Planning Board.
Total Mass attendance in the Oakland diocese was in the 130,000 range from 2000 to 2009, with a dip to 125,346 in 2010, then the numbers went back up to 131,193 in 2011, Fair said. For the years 2012-2015 attendance ranged from a high of 127,920 to a low of 122,427. Starting in 2016, attendance has dropped each year from 117,452 in 2016 to 111,062 in 2018.
Full story at Catholic Voice Oakland.