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Health & Spirit

White Christians are no longer US majority

Stan Finger, The Wichita Eagle on

Published in Religious News

"Now, it's a matter of if you go to church."

The Catholic Diocese of Wichita is defying national trends of average Mass attendance, however.

In 2016, average Mass attendance among U.S. Catholics was 22 percent, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate. In Wichita, that number is 52 percent.

The national survey showed the Catholic Church is undergoing a significant demographic shift. Nearly nine in 10 Catholics 25 years ago were white and non-Hispanic. Today, that figure is 55 percent.

"We've probably seen a little bit of that" trend, but it hasn't been nearly as dramatic, said Matthew Vainer, director of communications for the Wichita diocese.

Yet diocesan officials recognize that Wichita is defying national trends in numerous ways, Vainer said.

While priest shortages are widespread around the nation, the Wichita diocese ordained 10 priests this year and will ordain another 10 next year.

Last April, the Catholic Advance, the diocesan newspaper, said the diocese had 58 seminarians -- a ratio of one seminarian for every 1,845 Catholics, dwarfing the ratios in places like the archdioceses of Los Angeles or New York.

The Archdiocese of New York has a ratio of one seminarian for every 24,528 Catholics, according to the Advance, while the Archdiocese of Los Angeles has a ratio of one for every 46,667 Catholics.

"We are kind of our own little niche" in Wichita, Vainer said.

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