The Catholic Church in Dallas is thriving and most parishes are filled to capacity every Sunday. A significant number of parishes in the metroplex have more than two Masses a day, and I know of one which has seven Masses on Sunday.
Many parishes throughout the United States are not as fortunate. They struggle with Mass attendance and their churches feel empty on Sunday morning. Some are moving to one Mass every Sunday and others are having to close down entirely. The majority of American parishes, however, appear to have stable and sizable congregations. Their problem is that their worship spaces are too big for their congregations. Their churches were built when their parishes were larger and their Mass attendance was higher.
So, what do you do when your worship space is too big?
Short of building a new church or renovating your worship space, few good alternatives come to mind. I have seen several churches rope off sections of pews in order to force people to sit closer together. This often looks tacky and too directive. I have also heard of churches moving into smaller spaces such as a “lower church” in the basement. That is not ideal either.
What are your thoughts? Have you seen other communities successfully navigate this problem? Please comment below.