The Gift of Hispanics to the Church

Over the last several years, considerable attention has been paid in the secular and religious media to the growth of Hispanics in the United States. Much information has come from the Pew Research Center and the US Census Bureau. From them, we have learned that the US Hispanic population grew 43% between 2000 and 2010, and that non-Hispanic whites will become a minority sometime after 2040. This Hispanic growth has the potential to radically change the face of America, both politically and religiously. Political commentators generally have stated that President Obama was re-elected in 2012, in part, because of strong Hispanic support.


Meanwhile we also learned the religious implications of Hispanic growth. The Protestant share of the population dropped between 1972 and 2010 but the Catholic share held constant because of immigration from Latin America and the larger families that Hispanics typically raise. An estimated one-third of all US Catholics are now Hispanic and this percentage is almost certain to grow in the coming decades. Continue reading

On a personal note: a miracle

This posting is more of a personal note than my normal research reports. Sometimes we read of modern miracles happening to other people, and marvel at God’s goodness. And then at other times we experience these same miracles ourselves, discovering that any words we use – like marvel, wonder and astonishment – all seem to be so inadequate. Still words are our only vehicle to share our experiences, and so we use them, however feebly.

Kate and Bp Malloy at Christmas party, smaller

My wife Kate entered the hospital in early November 2012 to have her right lower leg amputated due to the effects of long-term diabetes. The notion of an amputation was not extremely troubling to us and we both were somewhat prepared for it. In fact some doctors advised her 18 years ago to have it amputated then because of a diabetic syndrome called Charcot foot. She consulted with experts on diabetic podiatry at a university hospital and, as a result of their intervention, Kate was able to gain almost two more decades with the foot. So we were expecting this one day and were mentally prepared for it.

But along the way, both before and after the surgery, Kate had complication upon complication develop. Continue reading

Does stewardship work?

There is a common perception among leaders in the Catholic Church, both clerical and lay, that the promotion of stewardship is highly desirable. In addition to stemming from a positive theology, this perception is based upon the assumption that stewardship makes an important difference in the life of a parish, resulting in an increase in time, talent, and treasure. There is a dearth of solid methodological research, however, that addresses the key research question: Does stewardship actually work at the parish level? Continue reading

Counting Catholics: A Comparison of 3 Methods

Last time: The Catholic Research Forum method of estimating the Catholic population was described. This method makes use of the percentage of babies that are baptized, and the percentage of people that die and receive Catholic funerals. In this article the Catholic population derived from this methodology is compared to the results from The Official Catholic Directory and telephone polls.

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The best way to estimate the Catholic population

Many people, such as the media, who comment on the number or percentages of Catholics assume a Protestant model of church membership: someone is considered a member when he/she is officially registered in a parish. This emphasis upon registration within our culture is taken for granted. After all, people register for the social security system, drivers’ licenses, library cards, fraternal organizations and, other religious denominations. Why not assume the same with the Catholic Church? Continue reading

Tell me what you value and I’ll tell you where you worship: a parish typology based upon measures of importance

In the past Catholics had little choice in their parish: most attended the parish within whose boundary they lived. If they belonged to an ethnic group which had a parish in the area, they were also free to register at that parish. While boundaries still officially exist, their importance generally has been downplayed by church officials during the last 30 years. Many Catholics choose their parish from among the Catholic parishes available in their area. In many ways the expectation of being able to choose one’s own parish is taken for granted, like the expectation of being able to choose one’s bank or physician. Continue reading