Mass Attendence is at an All Time Low Since The Pandemic


Debby Hudson

Even though the COVID surge has decreased, mass attendance is at an all time low! Did COVID impact peoples willingness to attend in-person mass?

March 9th 2020…a day that the world was changed forever. Thinking back to this day, I remember excitement flooding my body as I heard the news that we would have two whole weeks off of school! However this excitement quickly subsided as the two weeks turned into a month, another month, and, eventually it was decided that I would end my 7th grade school year on Zoom. Besides online school, grocery store shortages, masks, social distancing protocols, and more, religion was significantly impacted by the outbreak due to a decrease in church attendance.

In the midst of Covid-19, it was decided by the church that it wasn’t safe to attend Mass; therefore, many churches adapted by live-streaming their Masses. However, now that the virus has significantly improved, people still are not attending Mass.

The pandemic and the decrease of Mass attendees did not directly change the beliefs of Catholics as 73% of Catholics claimed how their faith was “extremely important to them” both pre-pandemic and now. However, a survey conducted by ALTEA illustrates how 38% of Catholics agreed that due to Covid, they became accustomed to not attending Mass.

To explain the importance of Mass to its congregants, the Catholic Church states that everyone must prioritize attending Mass every Sunday, as well as the Holy Days of Obligation: Christmas, Palm Sunday, Ash Wednesday, etc.. However, a study conducted by the Pew Research Center found that on average, 39% of Catholics attend Mass once a week, 45% attend Mass monthly/yearly, 12% attend Mass less than yearly, and 5% of Catholics NEVER attend Mass.

With many Catholics claiming that they are simply, “too busy” for Mass, the Church advocates that unless you have a legitimate reason for not attending, it is considered a sin. When calculating the time you spend at Mass per year, one can see that attending Mass on Sunday takes only 53 hours out of your ENTIRE year (54 hours out of leap years) There are 8,760 hours in a year, if 53 of these hours are spent attending Sunday Mass, only 0.61% of your year is spent at Mass.

A one hour mass is simply 4.17% of one’s day and 0.6% of one’s week, why are Catholics still not attending? Since the start of 2023, research demonstrates that an average American spends 3 hours and 15 minutes of their day on their smartphone. It is a prominent issue when the world is tripling the amount of time that could have been spent at church, on a device,

As of now, 43% of Catholics attend church regularly in 2023, compared to the 62% of Catholics that attend church regularly during 2020. This 19% decrease is the largest increase that the Catholic Church has seen in nearly a decade.
According to the Barna Survey, a decrease in Church attendance can cause insecurity and anxiety among parishioners making them feel like a “less devoted Catholic.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains how it is only acceptable to skip Mass if you have an illness, are a caretaker, or when charity volunteering would require a Mass absence. After surveying students around campus, I found that only about 30% of them or 3 in 10 of the students regularly attend Mass. This data proves that our campus has been influenced by the decrease in attending Mass “trend”.

Sophomore Ana Radilla claims that “[her] faith life is enhanced by attending Mass. As a devoted Catholic [she] prioritizes attending Mass on Sunday and Holy Days of Obligation.” Radilla says, “Online Mass has definitely contributed to the loss in parishioners at my local parish. I attended an online Mass over COVID, but now that the church is open again, I believe that unless one has a valid reason that prevents them from going to in -person Mass, in-person Mass is ultimately far more fulfilling than watching a Mass through a screen. Various Catholic websites including and OurSundayVisitor claim, how “Simply watching Mass on TV does not fill the Sunday Mass obligation, unless one is faced with a disability preventing their attendance.”

Radilla claims that she has “definitely noticed a decrease in Mass attendees and it’s sad to see the lack of parishioners when connecting with others through the ‘Our Father’ and ‘Peace be with you’.” It is never too late to start or restart attending Mass, anyone can begin by attending a quick 30 minute morning Mass before school begins from 7:15am-7:45am. From this, students can find a love for Mass and feel pure excitement to attend Sunday Mass.

Overall, now that the surge of the virus has significantly decreased, Catholics should prioritize attending Mass. Honestly, with weekly Mass attendance taking less than 1% of one’s week, it is a low commitment activity with an extremely high reward, individual fulfillment gained from spending time with God.