Since clustering their three parishes back in June, the Rush-Henrietta community has failed to release their Mass attendance totals. That is, until now. According to the cluster bulletin, attendance at these parishes has fallen 50% over the past ten years, far worse than the Diocese of Rochester average. I went through and performed my own calculations, and came up with an approximately 42% decline in Rush-Henrietta Mass attendance over the decade. That’s still shamefully bad. Let’s take a look at the Mass attendance numbers for each of these three parishes over the past decade, while analyzing all available attendance figures.
Church of the Good Shepherd (Henrietta) – Capacity: 663 – Decline since 2000: -688 (-53%)
Data unavailable from 2004-2006 and 2009
2008- 880 (Nancy DeRycke first year as “Pastoral Leader”)
2010- 615 (Barbara Swiecki first year as Pastoral Administrator)
Guardian Angels (Henrietta) – Capacity: 374 – Decline since 2000: -134 (-21%)
Data unavailable from 2004-2009
2010- 499 (Barbara Swiecki first year as Pastoral Administrator)
St. Joseph (Rush) – Capacity: 250 – Decline since 2000: -205 (-38%)
Data unavailable from 2004-2009
2010- 330 (Barbara Swiecki first year as Pastoral Administrator)
Total decline since a lay administrator was assigned sole leadership (calculated by attendance figures with a priest pastor/administrator minus October 2010 attendance)
Good Shepherd: -330
Guardian Angels: Unknown. 2005/6 totals unavailable. Ms. Swiecki assigned as administrator in June 2006.
St. Joseph: -100
T0tal Rush-Henrietta attendance 2000: 2,471
T0tal Rush-Henrietta attendance 2010: 1,444
Decline from 2000-2010: -1,027 (-42%)
One will notice when looking at the above figures that Mass attendance was largely stable from 2000 to 2003, with the possible exception of Good Shepherd, who experienced a 120 person decline. All three of these parishes were led by a priest at this time. The numbers really start to get interesting when lay administrators are assigned to these parishes. This unfortunate arrangement of dubious Canonical legality happened in 2006 for Guardian Angels, 2008 for Good Shepherd (perhaps earlier if one counts the co-administrator leadership toward the end of Della-Pietra’s priesthood), and 2010 for St. Joseph. Nancy DeRycke and Barb Swiecki have so far accounted for a 330 person decline in attendance at Church of the Good Shepherd. The figures are unavailable for Guardian Angels, but it is likely the attendance fell sharply during Ms. Swiecki’s tenure there. Lastly, St. Joseph’s attendance fell by around 100 persons since Barb Swiecki took the reigns. So what are the fruits of Bishop Clark’s lay-run parishes experiment? Less people in the pews, and nearly 1,000 souls put in peril in Rush-Henrietta.
I’m sure someone will quip, “but clustering caused the decline!” To an extent. These numbers were spiraling downward before the clustering and decrease of one weekend Mass per parish, especially at Good Shepherd.
But never fear, for “The Pastoral Council and the Evangelization Committee are working on ways to increase our attendance.” One can only imagine what kind of fluff these groups will produce.
2012 is quickly approaching, thanks be to God.
Click here to witness the fruit of another lay administrator, Sr. Joan Sobala, during her tenure at the once-orthodox and traditional, St. Anne church in the city southeast.