Boom: the astonishing growth of the Catholic Church in Texas

Who else but Rocco could put it all together?

Take a look:

Catholics — their presence increased nearly 60 percent since 1990 — have eclipsed Evangelicals to become the state’s largest religious group. In a matter of years, three of its dioceses have erupted to comprise more than a million members, each reflecting five-or-sixfold expansions over the last three decades. On a 25 percent growth in general population since 2000, the Dallas-Fort Worth “metroplex” is now home to nearly 2 million of the faithful in what’s just become the nation’s fourth-largest metropolitan area. Along the border, a majority of Brownsville’s 1.1 million Catholics are younger than 25; out East, rural Tyler’s taken to ordaining more priests than New York, and in the capital, Austin’s church of half a million — projected to double within a decade — is perhaps the Stateside church’s most energetic outpost, boasting the nation’s most celebrated Catholic campus ministry, to boot.

On the institutional front, the seminaries are expanding, freshly-built “mega-churches” are teeming, and local RCIA classes routinely set national benchmarks. By and large, the model of church is a decidedly post-Conciliar, 21st century one, blending Africans, Anglos, Asians and Latinos — each mostly migrants of some sort — into cohesive, vibrant communities. In a first, Rome’s designated headquarters for asignificant cross-country project lies not along the Northeast corridor,but in Houston, where the dedication of a new cathedral (above) since the last visit shut Downtown streets as an army priests processed toward it four across. Each named auxiliaries in their early forties, the last decade has seen four homegrown priests succeed each other as the nation’s youngest bishop. And of course, in the ultimate reflection of “the dynamic growth of Catholicism in the southern part of the United States, and especially in” this second-largest of them, for the first time its group crosses the “threshold of the Apostles” led by a figure in scarlet, one told by Benedict on his elevation that “Texas needs a cardinal.”

Read it all.

It is a reminder, I think, of hope and renewal — and one we desperately need these days.


  1. Yay! So happy to see this! Now I know where I’m moving if things become unbearable here in the northeast.

  2. ron chandonia says:

    We’re doing pretty well here in Georgia too. Plus the weather is better.

  3. “… each mostly migrants of some sort…” How much that innocent sounding statement hides. I would like to see the breakdown on the immigrant status of these new Roman Catholic Church members. What do you think the percentage of illegal immigrants would make up this “boom”? It is only by flaunting the laws of the United States that they are here. Illegally crossing our borders with the aid and encouragement of many priests in the Catholic Church just shows how lawless this institution is. By their fruits you will know them. *Lawless*.

  4. Deacon John M. Bresnahan says:

    My daughter and her family live in a large Catholic parish outside
    Atlanta. And it is exploding in membership–virtually all from American born Anglo converts. The Church is growing in many ways in many different parts of America.

  5. A&M is in College Station, not Austin.

  6. Rocco’s phrase “… each mostly migrants of some sort…” does not mean legal Hispanic migrants vs. illegal ones. While Hispanics do make up the largest immigrant group, Texas also hosts large numbers of Asian, African, and European immigrants. Those RCIA classes that are setting national benchmarks, and not mostly Hispanic. They are typically already Catholic. The majority of the population growth in Texas (and the church?) has been from other states, not other countries.

  7. Everything’s bigger in Texas. Even Catholicism!

  8. Oops, that sentence about RCIA should read:
    Those RCIA classes that are setting national benchmarks are not mostly Hispanic.

  9. My son has been down in Texas for work over the last two months. He has gone to a number of different Catholic Churches while there and spent time after mass meeting and getting to know the parishoners. What he found was that these texas Catholics, Anglo or Latino, take the teaching of the Catholic Church very seriously and would be considered very conservative if they were in parishes in the midwest. He believes the Catholic Church will benefit from the addition of these Catholics to the Church and the country. Most of the Latino’s who are illegal are not those showing up at Mass every week or getting heavily involved in the parish. There are services being formed in the parish to aid the poor and they are not looking for documentation on who to help, but they are not centered on illigal immigration support either. They told my son that “we support Governor Perry because he has been strong in working to help latino’s find jobs and in education, the two main concerns of Latino’s in general, and also is strong in areas of Catholic teaching in regard to the family and pro life issues.” My son came away with a very good impression of what the Church is doing in Texas and see’s it as the model for any state with a Catholic Latino population. The more we get them into and welcomed at Catholic parishes, the better it will be for both the Church and the country. Maybe our Lady of Guadalupe is sending the American Church the best she can bring to save our country and bring it back to God.

  10. Such good news. We are seeing such great signs for the Church. I hope they can package some of that wonder dust and ship it up to the New York area. ;)

  11. midwestlady says:

    This is actually the real story of the day! The Church in Texas is growing and that’s good. And the latest news is that the Church is growing around the world too, even in places where being Christian is really tough and hazardous like southeast Asia.

  12. midwestlady says:

    Yeah, well, Joanc57, parts of the Eastern Seaboard are experiencing a dramatic kind of cultural & religious implosion right now, and I’m sure it’s showing in the Churches there. Luckily, I’m in the Midwest, where it doesn’t seem as severe.

  13. I am a Texan, and a lot of the growth of the church here is coming through immigrants. However, a lot of it is also coming from native Anglo and Hispanic converts, as well as lots of people from all over the world who have settled here due to oppression in their own countries.

    One way or the other, the buildings are full and people are worshiping God. We don’t check for green cards at the door of the church (or the schools or the hospitals). When people come who have a need, either spiritual, physical or intellectual, we try to find a way to fulfill those needs. I’m an educator by profession and it’s not my job to check immigration status, but to educate kids. There are law enforcement agencies for that.

  14. Ron, you’d have to specify on that. We’re so big we’ve got just about any kind of weather you’d imagine, from desert to swamp to woodland to ocean shore and the climates that go with each. You can get whatever weather you’d want in Texas in a day’s drive, although usually it is hot all over in July and August (like Georgia). I live in the Panhandle, and I’d probably have to admit that just about any weather is better than ours up here.

  15. Are these Americans or immigrants?

  16. Daisy, why does it matter?

  17. But it is in the Diocese of Austin.

  18. I agree that I do not want our church’s or teachers to be in the business of immigration legality. That is a job for the government. I do not want to see church leaders who knowingly put in place programs designed to support illegal activity in some misguided way. Last time we had Bishops not following the law, we ended up with an abuse scandal. Lets help those in need, but not foster that which is against the law. If Church leaders do not like the law, then use the power of the Church to lobby for change. But lets not check for green cards at mass.

  19. JAY JOSEPH says:


  20. Hi JAY JOSEPH, I’m catholic also, but it’s not the only church created by god, also the Orthodox church is the same, withere in east europe and the middle east, and egypt.

  21. Here in Oklahoma we are feeling Texas’s catholic growth also. Ive seen an absolutly amazing amount of cross cultural communion here between the various segments of our faith. The latino, Korean, Indian catholics and all of their orthodox brothers and sisters are melding well into the new Oklahoman catholic arena.

Leave a Comment