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Posted September 8, 2006

Facts and Figures That Are Changing Parish Structures

There are 18,891 parishes in the United States.

There are 42,528 priests in the United States -- more than one-quarter of them are retired, sick, or otherwise unable to minister actively.

Within the next 20 years, 29,000 of the priests serving in the U.S. today will be over the age of 75. In that same 20 year period, if the current rate continues, only some 9,000 new priests will be ordained.

Currently, more than 30,000 lay ecclesial ministers have parish leadership roles, and some 15,000 permanent deacons are serving in parishes.

With the number of Catholic in the U.S. steadily growing 2% per year the parish continues to flourish.

On one hand, parishioners are more and more educated and able to provide community leadership.

On the other hand, many parishioners retain their immigrant sense of church they grew up in. In every part of the country there is a significant increase in multi-cultural diversity, with parishioners speaking many languages and longing to be ministered to in their native tongues.

Approximately 3,125 parishes do not have a resident pastor. Most of these parishes are led by pastoral associates or business administrators, who have been hired by the non-resident pastor. Some 700 of these parishes are led by a parish life coordinator (PLC) who has been installed by the bishop under Canon 517.2.

Two-thirds of U.S. dioceses have installed at least one PLC. Forty-three percent are women religious, 26% are lay women and men.