The percentage of multicultural Catholic parishes in the U.S. is on the increase, according to research by the Georgetown University-based Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA). The report also indicates that some 29.7 million U.S. residents who self-identify as Hispanic or Latino are estimated to be Catholic, representing about 59 percent of the 50.5 million people of this race in the country.
Membership of Hispanics in the Catholic Church is growing, reaching to 38 percent, according to the study as presented by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Non-Hispanic whites are still the majority at 54 percent of the national Catholic population.
The study, Cultural Diversity in the Catholic Church in the United States, was done to help estimate the size and distribution of Black or African American, Asian American or Pacific Islander, Hispanic or Latino, and American Indian or Alaskan Native Catholic populations in the United States, as well as the locations of Catholic parishes known to serve these communities.
CARA located parishes that self-identify as serving or are known to serve racial, ethnic, cultural, and/or linguistic groups in the nation to create the first comprehensive listing and mapping of multicultural parishes. This research was commissioned by the Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church of the USCCB.
CARA estimates there are approximately 6,700 multicultural parishes in the United States, many located in the South and West. The Official Catholic Directory lists more than 17,400 parishes in the country. In a second phase of this study, CARA will conduct in-pew surveys of parishioners in a national random sample of these parishes.
CARA’s research on multicultural parishes has found these to be, on average, larger than parishes in general. Multicultural parishes average 1,445 registered households, compared to 1,168 for parishes in general. Overall, about three in ten U.S. parishes (29 percent or 5,000) celebrate at least one Mass a month in a language other than English or Latin.