Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In reviewing our parish membership last week, Pat Kowite, Coordinator of Finance shared the following statistics on the age groups with our parish.  I thought you might find her findings interesting as well as how we are responding.

For the first time ever, a 5-year age group has topped 15% of our parish.  It is the 0-5 year olds and they total 15.6% of our parish.  They are followed by the 6-10 year olds and then the 11-15 year olds.  The 41-45 year olds come in next at 8.3%.  The median age in the parish is 30 years of age.  The most consistently increasing groups are those over 75. The numbers are small, but they keep growing.  Adults in all age groups up to age 40 have shown a steady and consistent decline in percentages.  According to a report by the Pew Research Center in February 2010, the decline in adults and specifically young adults is not unique to us at St. Francis. Though on the surface if you attend the 9:30 or 11:30 Mass you may find it hard to believe that the Church is declining, these local and national statistics provide reason to pause.

Our pastoral council in collaboration with the pastoral staff has been attentive to these trends within the parish.  Our current strategic initiatives are designed to confront the decline in numbers (quantity) and more important in the participation (quality) and engagement of our parishioners.  By way of reminder the current initiatives are in the side bar.

In the past month, the pastoral council and pastoral staff have been reading the book “The Other 80%: Turning Your Church’s Spectators Into Active Participants,” by Scott Thumma and Warren Bird.  In the preface they raise a question that is faced by virtually every church in America – a question that we face at St. Francis.  “What will motivate less-connected or less-active members to move toward a life of discipleship and of living out the faith in community?”  Currently I am collaborating with Scott Thumma to respond to this challenge in very practical ways, and need your help and participation.  This past week I sent an email to several households asking individuals to complete an online survey.  The purpose of this questionnaire is to help us think about St. Francis’ present life and plan for the future.  The survey not only asks several sets of direct questions about the church’s dynamics, it also includes sets of broader questions regarding St. Francis’ current ministry and your own involvement and demographics.  Every individual member of the church age 15 or older is urged to complete a survey. Please work independently and complete your survey separately. It is important that everyone participate in this!  You may also access the survey at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/StFrancisCatholicCommunity  Please complete the survey by this Tuesday, March 6.  I regret that it is cost prohibitive to send “hard copies” of the survey to parishioners.  Your responses are anonymous.

Thank you for your participation.  I hope you enjoy filling out this survey and that in addition to assisting our church, you find it a helpful means of reflecting on your faith and the meaning of your experience as a member of The Catholic Community of St. Francis of Assisi.  

I look forward to sharing with you the results of the survey.

In the peace of Christ,
Fr. Mark