5 Reasons Catholic Parishes Are Closing

In this episode of The Catholic Talk Show, the guys are joined by Fr. Josh McCarty from Pastoral Parish to discuss major problems in the parish model and why so many parishes have closed or are on a path to closure.

Episode 134:
In this episode, we will discuss:
• What are the warning signs a parish may close?
• Why registering for a parish makes little sense
• Why the modern understanding of parishes is flawed
• Do parish councils help or hurt?
• How culpable are priests for parishes closing?
• And much more!

Show Notes:

• Get A Demo of Pastoral Parish software for Priests

• Get the Hallow App FREE for 30 days!

• Handcrafted Rosaries, Crucifixes, Home Altars from The Catholic Woodworker

• Get 50% off your first box from Catholic Month.ly!


13 comments on 5 Reasons Catholic Parishes Are Closing

  1. Andrea says:

    Hi Guys,
    Registration or official membership in a parish is a club as well as a tool I agree with Fr. Josh McCarty and Ryan Scheel. My own parish encompasses a chapel situated within a local airport and another church in my town which had stood on its own until its pastor retired and the pandemic struck.

    Priests are overwhelmed with the amount of duties imposed on them due to the needs of the parishioners and churchgoers today. They wear too many hats.

    LOL! Your giant Slovenian head Ryan Scheel is impressive! I love how you mention its square footage for storing data. There is a need for a digital diocese. The Mass is livestreamed why not confessions being made in Face Time. Face time marriage preparation is already happening. Infrastructural changes to meet the needs and keep up with the technology.

    My old parish, from my childhood, in Boston has survived all the changes and downsizing to date which is phenomenal but it has always been a parish serving the poor and immigrants. That has not changed in my lifetime. The faces have changed but not the demographics. This probably goes a long way in explaining its survival.

    Fr. McCarty is a self-professed nerd who built a Pastoral Parish care software. Fr. Rich uses it and it is a useful technical tool. It sounds like a critical application for today’s world. The main website is Pastoral Parish.com if anyone wants to review it. Fr. McCarty focuses on his priestly duties and his team works on integrating the software into a particular parish to meet its needs.

    I agree, again, with Ryan Scheel about how sad it is to see Church buildings torn down especially since most of them are well over a hundred years old and filled with hundreds of sacramental memories. The death knell for many was when their school was closed. That was the start of the end of the Catholic sprawl that occurred in the 1950’s. Church buildings took up an entire city block back then.

    My parish in my town is now called St. Michael the Archangel. I just love its new name and St. Michael was probably the Guardian Angel assigned to Jesus.

    Matthew 18:20. “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

    God bless us everyone,

    1. John says:

      Has anybody thought that people began reading the Bible and recognized Gods truth. Not the Popes rules, regulations and rituals. Calvary Chapel church has a congregation of 25,000 every weekend in which 60% used to be Catholic including many of the pastors. Seek the truth and the truth will set you free.

  2. E vR says:

    The response or lack of response by Catholic parishes around me and across the US during the COVID-19 ridiculousness really has caused a lot of disgust with the Catholic church, priests, and bishops. Literally, about 2 months ago, one parish in New Jersey allowed Confession only for those that were “vaccinated.” We have Fr. Molokai as a saint and the parish priest at the church in New Jersey in this day and age was too afraid to take Confessions unless his parishioners accepted an unapproved non-vaccine, that even used fetal cells in the development of the non-vaccine or in the actual non-vaccine injection. Parishes bowed down to government overreach and failed to serve parishioners, starting in the time of Lent in 2020. Priests and bishops should have been brave. I get that they are only human, but they’re our shepherds.

    Another priest who quarantined himself decided to pray the Rosary live daily on Facebook. At first I joined along, even though this Rosary was prayed in Spanish. However, after a few weeks of accepting names of ill or departed family members, he literally told my close friend’s family that they needed to not mention their departed brother, who had been hospitalized initially for COVID-19 and died of bacterial pneumonia; he told them that they were impeding on others who wanted to mention their own family members on the Facebook comment feed. All the while, the priest mentioned his own immediate family members every single night. I don’t blame him for mentioning his own family, but he shouldn’t be discouraging others from praying for or asking for prayers for their family members either.

    We need leaders in the church, not more sheep that rely on governmental figures to determine how or when to worship and open to serve our Catholic communities.

  3. Zoe says:

    Doesn’t registration also help with recording the Sacraments?

  4. Tim says:

    Good podcast very astute. But the answer is simple as is most things in life. Churches are closing because the laity does not come. They do not come because the Mass has been trivialized into a show, with showtimes starting at 8 and 10. They do not believe in transubstantiation. The Bishops lost their authority to statist politicians who closed their doors for a virus. They didn’t even resist. The priest speak lukewarmly about damnation and mortal sin, and topics such as abortion. I am a novus ordo Catholic who will now be attending the Latin Mass with my wife and 5 children.

    1. Suzanne says:

      I agree with you Tim. It seems the reverence and holiness in some churches is lukewarm to say the least. There have been too many changes; In some churches I have visited one can barely distinguish where the altar is, where pews are facing each other and not in worship and adoration to Jesus. Why are the new churches being built auditorium style and not built to the specifications from some of the older churches – from our Lord Jesus Christ. We go to to church to worship God, Our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. We should face the original altar, as priests do in the Ad Orientem mass which for me anyway, is beautifully reverent, and holy. I came across this video which explained a lot, and aligned with my soul. Hopefully, we can bring this back to more parish’s. I’ve personally have seen attendance rise when our dear parish priest says mass this way.
      Glory to God! May He continue to bless you and your family.

  5. Salvatore Scafidi says:

    Registration gets the parishioner a signed statement from the pastor that documents, to the satisfaction of the IRS, his or her charitable donations.
    This society has been marinating in secular humanism since the end of WWII; it doesn’t want to hear about sins of the flesh, self-denial, penance, death, judgement, Heaven and Hell. We have delegated the corporal works of mercy to the various levels of government, never mind about subsidiarity . And when we have cardinals, bishops, and priests actively defending (and in some cases promoting) “alternative lifestyles” and kowtowing to reputedly Catholic politicians with regard to the discipline surrounding the Holy Eucharist, you can excuse the laity for being confused and adopting similarly cavalier attitudes towards the sacraments. None of this should surprise anyone familiar with the scriptures. See Luke 18:8 for Jesus’s expectations for the health of the faith, and 2 Thessalonians 2:3 about the Great Apostasy.

  6. Victor of Sardis says:

    Hat Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL, Slovenian.

  7. Laura Breunig says:

    I’m okay with my priest not hanging out at the local bar. I think more than the priest not being out in the public, parishes in general lack a presence. We, lay people of the parish, should be out in our communities serving. Should the priest participate, sure! But the Church needs to have a presence, not just the priest.

  8. Pat says:

    Awesome episode! Especially after working in a parish for 25 years, now retired.

  9. Patrick says:

    I can understand the parishes closing and turning the building into a chapel… but how can we sell the buildings? My diocese (Diocese of Buffalo) has sold and is preparing to again sell Catholic Churches to the highest bidders! Cannon Law 1270 says we must subject these to a prescription period of 30 years!

    “Can 1270- Immovable properties, precious movable objects, and the personal or real rights and claims which belong to the Apostolic See are subject to a prescription period of one hundred years; those which belong to another public ecclesiastical juridical person are subject to a prescription period of thirty years.”

  10. Susan Irene Kennedy says:

    Wow, as I listened to all the ancillary reasons that were discussed for parishes closing I am literally in shock that the root of the problem never was touched on. Yes, churches are closing because parishioners aren’t coming to church. The root of the matter is why aren’t people coming to church.

    The Church and the priests, bishops, the Vatican have killed the authority of the Church. To be clear, the pedophiles from the parishes straight to the Vatican, and the others who have enabled them, passed them to another parish or helped them in any way are in large part responsible for the demise of the Church. I have had conversations with friends, family, relatives who are sickened by the above. And they are gutted; done.

    Have any of you any idea how enraged we Catholics are about being left to attempt any resolution about illegal and immoral activity that went on right under our noses. Felonies were committed while we trusted and sent our children to the one place we thought they would be safe. Crimes were committed. To this day I have never heard this discussed openly with us. We don’t heal overnight and until the clergy talk openly to us we won’t heal. It is only been presented to us via the news. Welcome to the digital world. Do we have to beg? Your friends and parishioners are livid, questioning, and hurting. And you can’t be real and name this as the top reason churches are closing? The Church has lost its credibility.

    I fully realize there are many wonderful priests but the secrecy in which the Church is run leaves us to not know who those priests are. My fifty year old daughter and her husband are a prime example of what I am talking about. She was raised by us as a Catholic and truthfully was a bit rebellious when it came to attending Catechism classes in high school but she went. Fast forward to her early adult life and preparing for marriage to a great young man who became a convert. They were model Catholics, attending Mass and leading a Christian life. My daughter became a high school Confirmation teacher and was instrumental in getting one young man to be confirmed. He had arrived the first night stating he would attend but only for his parents but there would be no confirmation. Later when she had a child, she taught summer catechism for five years two weeks every summer.

    Tragically, they have stopped all church activities and she and I had this discussion recently. Her words, “ We will not be participants in a Church where felonies to children were committed and covered up and until all people, gays, LGTBQ, etc are welcomed in the front door of the church in the same manner and rules that apply to everyone else there is no way we wish to be a part of that.”

    “ It” has been shoved under the rug. My daughter’s words are clearly a cry for help. But no one is listening. Legal actions have been forthcoming but the people who have tried to absorb this tragedy are not being heard and they are hemorrhaging away from the Church. When there are no people in church buildings, churches are closed. When there is no trust in the Church , church buildings are closed.

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