What is the secret behind the growth in Catholic parishes throughout our country? In studies seeking to understand why some parishes are growing - and needing to build larger facilities - three factors have emerged as key to vibrant parishes: excellence in music, proactively welcoming, and a homily with a concrete message. And I listed those factors in the order parishioners identified as most important. In other words the number one factor in growing a vibrant parish is excellence in music. That makes sense to me. Music can move the heart, excite and uplift the soul, and engage people across generations. Maybe better put, excellent music can move the heart, uplift the soul, and engage people. In addition, the research demonstrates that the genre of the music is a critical component to whether it deeply connects with the listener. Common sense: your favorite type of music is a personal choice.
How is the above concretely implemented to ignite vibrancy and growth in a parish? A parish makes a commitment to excellence in the music at it’s Masses, and discerns the genre of church music that engages the people of the community - those presently attending Mass, and those who are not coming to pray Mass. In the Catholic Church the genre of music basically breaks down to: Gregorian Chant, Traditional Hymns, Praise & Worship music. Over 40+ conversations, twelve Conversation with Father Michael gatherings (totaling 153 people), and parishioners speaking with me after Sunday Masses, it is clear that our parishes would be best served by offering more than one type of music over our weekend Masses. In other words, if traditional hymns engages and nurtures your spiritual life, there will be Masses for you. If Praise & Worship music lifts your soul, there will be Masses for you. I am excited to share that beginning in November the music offerings at our weekend Collaborative Masses will be (A=St Anthony, M=St Mary): Saturday - M - 4:00pm Traditional Hymns, A - 5:30pm Traditional Hymns, Sunday - M - 7:00am No Music, A - 8:30am Traditional Hymns and Praise & Worship music (and monthly Kids’ Choir), M - 10:00am Praise & Worship Music, A - 11:30am Praise & Worship music, A - 6:00pm Praise & Worship music.
Next week I will share more on the research concerning how growing parishes are proactively welcoming.
Blessings on your week.