Statistics and Trends

Statistics and Trends

Catholic Trends in St. Louis

From the trending data that the Archdiocese of St. Louis has been collecting over the past 80 years, there has been significant declines in many of the major data points that require a better use of our Archdiocesan resources to change the trends. These resources include our human resources (clergy and lay leaders), financial resources, physical structures, and parish locations across the Archdiocese.

About our Diocese

  • The Archdiocese of St. Louis is 178 parishes encompassing the City of St. Louis and 10 surrounding counties – a large and diverse territory: urban, suburban and rural.

  • Our local church has been declining for several decades as older Catholics die and there are insufficient number of young Catholics to take their place.

  • This is best exemplified by the significant decline in the number of births and baptisms in our diocese.

  • As our Catholic population has moved from the city to the near suburbs and from the near suburbs to the farther out suburbs, this has resulted in too few priests in large parishes and too many priests in small parishes.

  • Our diocesan priests are aging and number of priests to serve our Catholic population is declining.

  • Over the past decade, Mass attendance has been on a steady decline. The long-term implications of COVID are unknown, but the rebound in Mass attendance from 2020 to 2021 still leaves us 25% below pre-COVID levels.

Our Catholic population continues to decline

  • In 2021, the number of Catholics in the Archdiocese of St. Louis dipped below 500,000 for first time since the 1960s.

  • We have more baptisms than funerals and we have nearly 1,000 enter the church each year. Our numbers should be growing by 2,000 per year.

  • As many as 5,000 Catholics are “leaving” the Church – OR – not re-engaging in the Church after high school or college.

Our Catholic population is aging resulting in fewer young people

The Landscape in the United States

  • In the last decade, the percentage of the adult population claiming no religious affiliation (the "nones") grew from 17% to 26%.
  • In the last decade, the percentage of the millenial population claiming no religious affiliation grew from 27% to 40%.

The Landscape in the Archdiocese of St. Louis

  • Our baptism and marriage trends reflect the national landscape, as they are half of what they were 20 years ago.

Weekly Sunday Mass attendance continues to decline

  • Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mass attendance was declining between 0.5% to 1% per year.

  • Mass attendance hit a record low in October 2020 which is attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • While Mass attendance in October 2021 showed a significant increase from 2020, it was still 25% lower than Mass attendance in October 2019.

  • In 2019, only 33% of our pews were occupied during the typical weekend Mass. By 2021, only 25% of our pews were occupied during the typical weekend Mass.

Fewer Baptisms have resulted in fewer children in Catholic schools and PSR

  • Though we educate a higher percentage of children in our Catholic schools than nearly any other diocese (37%), enrollment continues to decline.

  • During the last decade, PSR enrollment has declined faster than day school enrollment.

  • Our current model of Catholic elementary schools cannot continue.

    • Only 40-50% of our elementary school children live in the boundaries of their parish school.

    • The cost to educate our students continues to outpace tuition increases.

    • Parish investment in our schools continues to absorb an increasing percentage of parish funds available to support other parish ministries.

Our Priests are aging

  • 35% of our diocesan priests (74 priests) serving in parishes are 65 years of age or older.

  • These 74 priests could retire in the next 10 years.

  • Though priests’ retirement age is 75, the average age of retirement for our diocesan priests has been 71.

  • By 2026, we will have fewer diocesan priests to serve in parishes than the number of parishes we have.

  • Our largest parishes will still need to be served by 2-3 priests.

Our finite resources need to be realigned to enable vibrant ministry

Click here to download these statistics and trends as a Powerpoint presentation

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Archdiocese of St Louis
20 Archbishop May Dr.
St. Louis, MO 63119
(314) 792-7005

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