Understanding the Attitudes and Behaviors of Active and Lapsed Catholics

Joy and Grievance in an American Diocese: Results from Online Surveys of Active and Inactive Catholics in Central Illinois was a survey conducted by Benedictine University at the request of Bishop Thomas John Paprocki. The surveys were prompted by the results of the 2011 “October Count” presented to the Presbyteral Council of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois at its March 2012 meeting, which showed a 30 percent decline in attendance at weekend Mass since 1996. The information led Bishop Paprocki to meet with Dr. William J. Carroll, president of Benedictine University, about developing a strategy to study why some Catholics were no longer attending Mass and, in some cases, left the Church altogether.

Professors Phillip Hardy, Ph.D, Kelly Kendra, Ph.D. and Brian Patterson, Ph.D. from Benedictine’s Lisle campus conducted two studies of Catholics in the Springfield diocese: one aimed at those who had lapsed or drifted away from the church and another for those registered and attending a local parish. A volunteer sample of 575 inactive parishioners was recruited to complete an online survey from November 2012 through March 2013. A volunteer sample of 827 active parishioners was recruited to complete an online survey from February through March 2014.

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