Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Mass Attendance by Age Group

November 29th, 2009, Promulgated by Dr. K

The following very interesting graph appears over at Fr. Z’s site:

Weren’t two of the purposes of the Council to let fresh air into the Church and to adapt the message of our Lord Jesus Christ to the modern man? According to the graph above, this doesn’t appear to be working very well. In fact, the aggiornamiento appears to be having a severely negative effect upon the newer generations of Catholics. Of those born after the Second Vatican Council, roughly 21.5% attend Mass every week. Contrast this with those born before the Council, where 52% of respondents said they attend Mass every week. The people born around the time of the Council are in between the two percentages.

Something needs to be done, right? We can’t just sit here and twiddle our thumbs telling ourselves there is nothing wrong, or saying the decline is because we didn’t go even further with liturgical creativity. I pray that Pope Benedict, and the successors who will come after him, will be inspired to search out and implement the solution to our problems, whatever exactly they may be. 21-22% weekly attendance is pathetic.



10 Responses to “Mass Attendance by Age Group”

  1. Mike says:

    Dr. K.,

    I showed this very graph to the EG/C Steering Committee about 3 years ago and made essentially the same points about younger Catholics that you just made.

    The majority opinion in that room was that we needed to find new ways to reach out to these people.

    The minority opinion (i.e., mine) was that we needed to start preaching about sin again.

    The majority carried the day and the decline in Mass attendance continued unabated.

  2. Mike .. you hit it exactly.

    The Catholic Church needs to preach Christ crucified, sin and salvation. The church need to tell people to stop leading sinful lives and get back to the sacraments.

    There is no NEW way, it's the same Catholicism that was preached for centuries. The Catholicism that gave us saints from sinners.

    Yes, like St. Francis deSales, we have to do it in charity, but we MUST do it. We are not even doing it.

    This is exactly where I would like to be able to write what I think of the Bishop, but, I too, must practice charity and patience (not my strong suit when it comes to church matters.

    I think somebody in the DoR needs to file an ID 10 T report.

    One thing I question is the 52% of weekly Mass attendance in the pre-Vatican II days. I would have thought it was much higher. Say closer to 75 to 80%.

  3. This was also published at New Liturgical Movement with some rather insightful comments.

  4. Nerina says:


    In the homily yesterday, our priest said, at least 3 times that we are all "wonderful and amazing people." And that God needs us to be these "wonderful and amazing people." I think I understand what he was trying to get at, but he is so reluctant to name sin or sinful behavior that the only message the people in the pews get is "well, I'm okay so no need to do anything different."

    Don't get me wrong. I like to be affirmed as much as the next person, but I also don't like empty praise. Heck, I live with myself. I am well aware of my sins and faults. What I need to hear from my priest is that there is a way to overcome these sins and faults so I can truly become "wonderful and amazing."

  5. Anonymous says:

    If you attend a church where there is a truly holy, obiedent, priest you will hear about hell, sin, redemtion,confession, purgatory, and heaven. If you do not hear these things in a homily it is your responsibility to move to another church. Especialy if you have children. Long, boring, cottage cheese, homilies will lead to apathetic feelings and when one decieds he has had enough and leaves the church it is hard to come back which can lead to sin and devastation for your children.

    Might i suggest Our Lady of Victory or the Latin Mass.

  6. Anonymous says:

    RE: above ^
    " if you do not hear these thing in a homily"


  7. Nerina: If we are such "wonderful and amazing people" why, for instance, is there so much divorce, fornication, co-habitation, etc. Your priest should find a "pair" seriously.

    I knew a priest who would thank the altar servers for the way they poured water from the cruets at the Lavabo. He thought they should be congratulated. "Nice job you did swinging that incense. I hope it wasn't too much for you, Johnny."

    The priest lavished absolutely meaningless praises on them. He thought he was been affirming and after a few times the kids asked him to just STOP IT. "It's stupid you treat us like we are babies". So the priest instead of getting the message, thought the kids wanted "big ticket items of praise". So he gave them pizza coupons and had little award ceremonies. You would not believe what position this priest holds today.

    Long story short, the current boys dropped out because the priest was "way way too weird" (I can't actually write what they said because I don't want to trip up and say something about a priest's character)…but it wasn't good.

    Boys want to be around manly priests in a sanctuary with no girls and serve at the altar of God. If the boys respect the priest they will go to any lengths to what he requests. When I was an altar "boy", our crew would do anything the priest asked of us because we knew what we were doing was extremely important. Most boys are born to be leaders and look to older men to teach them how preserve, protect and defend the honor of God.

    As boys in the 50s and 60s, we didn't have to look at fake, painted fingernails wrapped around a cruet as Alysse hands it to the priest and then flips her head around to get her hair in position.

    No wonder real boys don't want to be on the altar, The sanctuary is the breeding ground of future priestly vocations.

    I've ramble too much. Thanks for putting up with me.

    –Sic transit gloria mundi!

  8. Sister Emily says:

    CHOIR: Not to mention the young girls on the altar swaying from side to side, chewing gum with their mouths half open and their arms folded..(St. Annes) (unless things have changed there)

  9. So true, Sister Emily, so true. We would show up at least 15 mintues before Mass to setup; now the priest shows up 15 minutes before Mass to do what the altar servers are supposed to do. What the hell is wrong with this picture. The priest serving the servers. This whole scenario is whacked out.

    See you at the communion rail, Sister Emily.

  10. gretchen says:

    Choir says:

    One thing I question is the 52% of weekly Mass attendance in the pre-Vatican II days. I would have thought it was much higher. Say closer to 75 to 80%.

    I believe the graph is showing current Mass attendance by age demographic. The 52% refers to the current attendance percentage of people who were born pre-Vatican II.

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