Preaching “Out of Season”

CARA is a non-profit research group based in Washington, DC that studies the Catholic Church. Some statistics on its recent blog are worth reflection.

How many people in the US have been Catholic some time in their lives?  About 97 million.

Have many currently consider themselves Catholic?  Over 74 million.

How many go to church only on Easter and Christmas?  Over 50 million.

How many attend Mass at least once a month?    Over 36 million.

How many attend Mass weekly?  Over 17 million.

How many are actively engaged in their parishes? About 3 million.

There are about 17,000 Catholic parishes in the United States, which are important sources for evangelizing those who infrequently or never practice their faith. They also have a significant role in reaching out to the unchurched.

But are parishes the only sources for bringing the gospel to others? We’re experiencing a priest shortage, that shows no signs of ending. A parish-based evangelization depends on a resourceful, innovative clergy. Without resourceful, innovative priests, I don’t see how we can evangelize from the parish alone. We need to turn to other sources for evangelization.

Seems to me the media in its many forms has a role.

I think too this is a time for Christian movements beyond the parish to arise to meet the need to preach the gospel, “in season and out of season.” Let’s pray for new movements, and also let’s pray that some of the older religious communities and lay groups rise up again.

Our time is certainly “out of season.” But that’s when preaching needs to be done.

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