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Mass attendance dips a second year

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Average weekend Mass attendance in the Diocese of Arlington has dropped slightly for a second year, according to the third annual Mass count. In 2017, 140,444 people came to Mass per weekend. In two years, that number dropped by 7,500 people to 132,944 attendees, a 5.5 percent decrease.


The data continues to show that most parishioners do not attend church on a weekly basis. Approximately 29.3 percent — less than a third — of the estimated 454,000 registered diocesan Catholics attended a Saturday vigil or Sunday Mass during the three weekends in October 2019 when the count was being taken.

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The diocese collected this data by having the 76 parishes/missions and the three campus ministries track attendance at the 410 regularly scheduled weekend Masses. Parishes typically have volunteers who count attendees during the offertory. Parishes are also responsible for maintaining an accurate database of parishioners.


Information from the Mass count report shows three parishes have added an additional Sunday Masses. An average number of weekend Masses per parish is five but 50 percent of parishes have six or more.


“The intent of the October count is to measure Catholic Mass participation in the Diocese of Arlington. It is hoped that pastors use the report, in consultation with their pastoral councils, to study the data they submitted and develop a strategy to strengthen their evangelistic plans and initiatives,” said Father Jamie R. Workman, vicar general.


 “The statistics from the October count that show Mass attendance has declined over the past few years, also presents Pastors with an opportunity to educate the faithful, not only on the importance of maintaining our Sunday obligation to attend Mass, but also on the value of celebrating the miracle of the Eucharist and the grace it brings to our lives.” 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020