Gene Michael is reporting that regular contributor Dr. Knowledge has come up with a weekend Mass attendance estimate for Sacred Heart Cathedral that is a real eye-opener.
[Dr. K.] estimates weekend Mass attendance at the Cathedral (five Masses in total) to be 470. He bases this on Mass counts that were provided to Rich Leonard’s blog by attendees at the Cathedral. He also factored in the weekly collection amount to come up with his estimate.
(It should be noted that Sacred Heart does not publish attendance figures in its weekly bulletin so the only way to come up with a figure is for people attending various Masses to literally count heads.)
Gene reports that the 2000 average weekly Mass attendance at the cathedral was 1,081. Dr. K.'s estimate of 470 therefore represents a decline in excess of 56% in just the last 8 years. By way of contrast the diocese as a whole has seen a 22.2% decline in Mass attendance in the 7 years ending in 2007. (The 2008 figure is due out any day now.)
A few years ago at the beginning of the Partners in Faith drive a former pastor told me that when Bishop Clark originally presented the idea of renovating the cathedral to the Priest Council, that body's initial recommendation was to forget about it. They favored, instead, designating one of the large suburban churches as the new cathedral and they had two main reasons for doing so: The obvious shift in the Catholic population away from the city and the much lower costs needed to transform a newer building into a cathedral. The bishop was not to be deterred, however, and so we are now stuck with this (nearly) empty shrine to his obstinacy.