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Re: New Issue: Declining Enrollment in Rel. Ed programming reversed!

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  • firstnamemcneil
    ... percentage of our Catholic folks participating regularly in worship. These same folks often choose not to have their children participate regularly in
    Message 1 of 8 , Jun 1, 2007
      --- In dre-talk@yahoogroups.com, Dan1schwie@... wrote:
      >
      > Tim,
      >
      > About declining enrollment. Across the US we see declining
      percentage of our Catholic folks participating regularly in worship.
      These same folks often choose not to have their children participate
      regularly in faith formation programs - for lots of different
      reasons. My experience is that this is more evident in large metro
      areas than small towns and rural areas. However, an institution with
      strong leadership will find find ways to turn that around. For the
      last 35 years we as a church have not had the leadership (that us)
      to turn that around. Regular Mass attendance in 1960 was at about
      75% and CCD/Catholic Schools had close to 80% participation at that
      time. In 1995 those numbers had dropped to below 50%. And the
      decline continues. Many suggest only 40% attend mass regularly or
      maybe lower in our large metro areas. Some of these figures are 1995
      studies from the Life Cycle Institute of Catholic Uni. and the book
      Catholicism USA from CARA. If we continue to blame others - other
      the times are changed, people don't care, its the technology age,
      etc) for this decline rather than our own leadership, then the
      decline will continue. If we continue to do what we have been doing
      for the past 40 years, waiting for our "customers" to come to
      our "great products", then we will continue to decline. We have
      great customers and great products but too few of the customers are
      come to the products! Changes come when we acknowledge our problem
      and start making changes in services and products. Or maybe common
      business sense won't work for the Church where we can leave it to
      the Spirit and Prayer!
      >
      > Dan Mulhall suggested a survey of the parish to see who is out
      there. He is very much on target. We need to know our parish - and
      not just those families who come to enroll in our the parish. Do we
      know the many who live in our midst but are not enrolled but see
      themselves as Catholics?
      >
      > A way to do this, if you are looking for children who should be
      in your programs, is to ask the public elementary schools in your
      parish for their enrollment figures and work from these numbers. If
      your public schools have declining enrollment, then you know
      families with children are in decline and your parish will see that
      also. If that is not the case then you had better find your
      faithless flock because they are there.
      >
      > How to use the school demographics? In Houston, students are
      zoned to their elementary school. There are transfers but generally
      the numbers are stable. The transfers balance. You will need some
      help finding what the religious make up of the public school
      students are (schools keep ethnic, economic, learning figures but
      not religious). Usually there are statistics on the population make
      up of your county/city/town. Here in Houston, we know that 70% of
      the Hispanic children are Catholic, 20% of the non-Hispanic white
      are Catholic, and then the African American and Asian (these hold
      about 10% of our Catholics) make up the remainder. With these
      statistics, I find the base numbers of Catholic children who we
      should be serving (not necessarily who should be coming to us) but
      who we should be going out to serve who "live in" our parish but are
      more than likely not registered with us or any other parish.
      >
      > In my current parish we were serving 10% of the Catholic children
      living in our parish with catechesis when I arrived. They simply
      were not coming to the parish for formation - was it the parents,
      the program, the kids interest, time factor? Part of it was a lack
      of contact with the families where they were. We had an expectation
      of their coming to us. When we switched catechesis to that of going
      out to them, we tripled enrollment in two years. We now offer
      catechesis at eight different times - three times at the church
      campus and six times after school on the public school campus. Since
      99% percent of the parish children are in the public schools, it
      made sense to serve them where the parents already had gathered
      them. Nationally only about 12% of the Catholic students are in
      Catholic Schools. The state forces parents to register the children
      in school. Why not take that help and serve them where they are?
      Parents want the best for their children. If we provide this, then
      the parents will respond.
      >
      > Now the challenge is to build the outreach to the other 70% we
      haven't reached. Next year means adding programs at two more
      secondary schools. We especially need to find our confirmation age
      students. In our diocese, we have 35,000 first communions each year
      but only about 6,000 confirmations. Where have all the youth gone?
      They're at the public schools. Where are all our confirmation
      preparation programs? At the parish. The two don't come in contact
      much. Sunday mass is empty of teens as well as many other folks.
      Remember Jesus went to the highways and byways. He didn't set at
      home with his mother in Nazareth. She even got in the act and seems
      to have traveled with him!
      >
      > Public school catechesis is constitutional. See the Good News
      Club versus Milford decision of the Supreme Court in 2001. Here in
      Houston, we have 250 YMCA programs on the campus of the public
      schools but less than 10 catechesis clubs on public school campuses.
      If the YMCA has a message to give kids that is Christian centered at
      public schools then we have an even a more important message that is
      Catholic centered for the public school campus. If we have the
      courage to witness outwards with it rather than wait at
      our "comfort" Church centers.
      >
      > Have a good time going out.... It will work for them but it will
      mean harder work for you.
      >
      > Dan
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > -----Original Message-----
      > From: tomrinkoski@...
      > To: dre-talk@yahoogroups.com
      > Sent: Wed, 25 Apr 2007 1:48 PM
      > Subject: [dre-talk] New Issue: Declining Enrollment in Rel. Ed
      programming
      >
      > Wednesday 25 April 2007
      >
      > Greetings and Salutations!
      >
      > I am witnessing a declining enrollment over the past 4 years in
      our regular elementary religious ed programming and am wondering if
      it is a shared stat or just peculiar to our parish. This shows up
      both in overall enrollment numbers as well as very poor attendance
      patterns. The decline in overall enrollment number is not a huge
      drop, but it is slow and steady. I have all sort of theories, but no
      hard evidence.
      >
      > Is this a shared phenomenon?
      >
      > in the smiles and stories of Jesus,
      >
      > Tom Rinkoski, Director
      > Family Faith Formation & Youth Ministry
      > St. Augustine Parish & Student Center
      > Gainesville, FL
      >
      > __________________________________________________
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      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

      Dan,

      You are on to something. The task is to go out not just sit around.

      M mcneil


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