Catholics Improved Relation to God During Quarantine
According to an informal survey among 108 Catholics in the (mostly) Pittsburgh region:
- 64% indicated that their relationship with God improved during the COVID quarantine
- 31% said it stayed the same, and only
- 5% said it worsened.
- 59% expected the way they practiced their faith after the quarantine to be deeper
- 35% about the same, and
- 5% less profound.
The survey was conducted by Pathways to Lay Leadership (PLL)*, a locally led lay Pittsburgh group. It was not intended as a scientifically selected cross-section of all Catholics. Rather it was designed to take the pulse of area Catholics who were known to be active in some religious entity in addition to their parish. The conclusion is that they found valuable ways of seeking out God, despite the drawbacks of the quarantine.
When asked what they found valuable, they responded:
- 59% cited Online Masses
- 46% Personal Interactions with family and friends
- 36% Catholic-themed online programs (like APP’s** Zoom Speaker Series)
- 30% In-person Masses
- 21% Community with recently created Lay Groups (like CCOC)***
- 21% Activism in Social Justice Issues
- 14% Service Opportunities Independent of the Church, and
- 10% Service Opportunities Associated with the Church.
When asked about who sponsored their preferred online masses:
- 26% cited their traditional parish
- 25% a Catholic community other than a parish
- 13% a parish in another diocese, and
- 9% a parish in their traditional diocese.
- About 15% said they did not like online masses.
Jim McCarville, the member of PLL who designed the poll, said, “it recognizes that lay and religious organizations, parallel to parishes, played an important role in helping Catholics maintain and significantly improve their relationship to God during this quarantine time period.” He said he hoped that “the message would not be lost on parish and diocesan planners as the community emerges from the COVID quarantine, or worse, that these lay and religious communities might be viewed by dioceses as competitors to the parish.”
He added, “Catholic parishes in Pittsburgh and other places have undergone a series of difficulties in recent years from the sexual abuse scandal of some members of the clergy, the closure and consolidation of many parishes due to declining numbers of clergy, and the lack of (or acceptance of) significant lay and female leadership in the Church.”
He said he “hoped that parishes would bounce back, but it is also an important opportunity to realize that there are other ways of doing things and especially an opportunity to cultivate lay leadership and non-traditional outreach mechanisms to spread the word.” He concluded, “We have to remember that it is all about building up the kingdom of God, and that is not just measured by parish attendance.”
The results related here are as of June 3, 2021. The survey remains open.
This survey was conducted with the support of the following organizations, as well by the support of the Pittsburgh based Sisters of Divine Providence.
*Pathways to Lay Leadership (PLL) is a collaboration of concerned and committed lay Catholics
promoting co-responsibility of the laity and the realization that we are called, gifted, and sent. PLL seeks to educate, encourage, and prepare the laity to identify concrete ways that they can use their gifts and talents in leadership roles for the purpose of furthering Christ’s mission entrusted to the Church.
**The Association of Pittsburgh Priests (APP) is a diocesan-wide organization of ordained and non-ordained, women and men, who act on our baptismal call to be priests and prophets. Our mission, rooted in the Gospel and the Spirit of Vatican II, is to carry out a ministry of justice and renewal in ourselves, the Church and the world. www.associationofpittsburghpriests.com
Fr. Regis Ryan, President, Jim McCarville, Vice-President, firstname.lastname@example.org.
***Catholics for Change in our Church, an independent organization of concerned, committed Catholics, based in Pittsburgh, PA, formed to affirm the laity’s rightful role of co-responsibility in the Church. Kevin Hayes, President, email@example.com; Gretchen Jezerc, firstname.lastname@example.org