From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Parish profiles: statistics help tell the story

by Father W. Roy Floch, for the Inland Register

(From the March 21, 2002 edition of the Inland Register)

What does the average parish in the Spokane Diocese look like? Can we draw a normative picture of how Catholic life proceeds in most parishes?

These seem like simple questions. However, as the parish list below demonstrates (arranged, in Gospel fashion, from least to most), there is a wide variation between our parishes merely in terms of size, ranging from six to 1,751 families. The kind of religious education or liturgy at St. Joseph, Jump Off, will be appreciably different from that at St. Mary, Spokane.

Ordinarily, the total number of diocesan families (24,702) divided by the number of parishes (81) would appear to give an average size. But that result, 305 families, is 50 times larger than the smallest parish and one-fifth the size of the largest parish. The variation in size is so extreme that comparisons to reach an average seem ridiculous.

A parishioner-mathematician suggested that a solution would be to divide the parishes into two groups and find the average in the groups. Looking at the list, how do you divide them?

The 14 largest parishes together contain just over one-half — 12,629 — of the diocesan families. Put another way, one-half of all our Catholic families live within less than one fifth (17 percent) of the parishes. The other half of the diocesan families are spread out through 67 parishes, with a variation between six and 630 families. The average of these 67 parishes – 10,437 divided by 67 – is 156, or 26 times the size of the smallest parish. Again, a parish of six families hardly seems comparable to a parish of 630. Should we divide the total again, perhaps into three groups?

The 41 smallest parishes contain 2,066 families. Put another way, one-half of the parishes taken together contain less than a 10th of the total diocesan families. Fifty percent of our parishes are under 136 families, 36 parishes (44 percent) are under 100 families, and 25 parishes (31 percent) are under 50 families. Expressions like “the tail wagging the dog” and “Samson and Goliath” come to mind, but which is Goliath and which is Samson?

If the intent is to reach most of the families in the diocese, something directed at the largest 14 parishes will succeed. If the intent is to reach most of the parishes, that’s another ballgame entirely.

If a diocese were meant to be a collection of homogenous parishes, then how many dioceses do we have one, two, 81-plus? If you want to compare your parish to others or use some program that has been successful in another parish, how useful will that be?

These probably are a pastor’s rambling reflections produced by long winter nights. St. Paul wrote letters to the Church of God in various places. There is a sense in which the Church of God in Jump Off and Pasco are each complete parts of the Body of Christ, sharing in the fullness of the One who fills the universe in all its parts. Each parish also has its own gifts and its own problems which nevertheless are not totally unlike those elsewhere. Perhaps it is also true that all comparisons are odious.

The real miracle and work of God’s grace is that there is any similarity at all in this vast diversity. That is the truly Catholic “one and the many” we enjoy in Christ.

(Father Floch is pastor of the parishes in Wilbur and Odessa.)

Parish, Number of Families
St. Joseph, Jump Off: 6
St. Bernard, Ione: 11
Holy Trinity, Washtucna: 12
St. Jude, Usk: 17
St. Catherine, Oakesdale: 17
St. Ambrose, Lind: 19
St. Joseph, Dayton: 19
St. Patrick, Curlew: 20
Pure Heart of Mary, Northport: 23
St. Joseph, LaCrosse: 24
St. Joseph, Metaline Falls: 25
Our Lady of Perpetual Help, St. John: 26
Mary Queen, Sprague: 26
Sacred Heart, Springdale: 27
Our Lady of Sorrows, Kalispel: 30
Sacred Heart, Tekoa: 32
St. Mark, Waitsburg: 36
Holy Rosary, Rosalia: 36
St. Francis, Harrington: 36
St. Michael, Reardan: 38
St. Agnes, Ritzville: 40
Holy Ghost, Valley: 46
St. Rose of Lima, Keller: 50
St. Joseph, Odessa: 50
Immaculate Conception, Davenport: 50
Our Lady of the Lake, Tum Tum: 52
St. Joseph, Rockford: 52
St. Genevieve, Twisp: 56
Sacred Heart, Kettle Falls: 57
St. Philip, Ford: 60
Our Lady of Lourdes, West End: 60
Sacred Heart, Wilbur: 62
Holy Rosary, Tonasket: 70
Immaculate Conception, Republic: 82
St. Anthony, Newport: 85
St. Boniface, Uniontown: 98
St. Paul, Eltopia: 110
Sacred Heart, Wellpinit: 120
Immaculate Conception, Oroville: 120
St. Ann, Spokane: 130
St. Gall, Colton: 136
St. Michael, Inchelium: 150
St. Patrick, Colfax: 165
St. Joseph, Spokane: 180
St. Mary’s Presentation, Deer Park: 190
St. Joseph/St. Mary, Omak: 200
Our Lady of the Valley, Okanogan: 200
Holy Rosary, Pomeroy: 200
St. Vincent, Connell: 215
St. Rose of Lima, Cheney: 237
St. Anne, Medical Lake: 250
Sacred Heart, Nespelem: 250
St. Mary of the Rosary, Chewelah: 252
Mary Queen, Spokane: 287
Sacred Heart, Brewster: 295
St. Francis of Assisi, Spokane: 300
St. Francis, Walla Walla: 325
St. Anthony, Spokane: 345
St. Francis Xavier, Spokane: 375
Immaculate Conception, Colville: 380
Sacred Heart, Pullman: 400
Sacred Heart, Othello: 450
St. Patrick, Spokane: 512
Assumption, Walla Walla: 520
St. Paschal, Spokane: 524
St. Joseph, Otis Orchards: 575
St. Joseph, Colbert: 630
Holy Family, Clarkston: 651
St. Augustine, Spokane: 705
Sacred Heart, Spokane: 724
Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes, Spokane: 760
Our Lady of Fatima, Spokane: 782
St. Patrick, Walla Walla: 800
St. John Vianney, Spokane: 854
Assumption, Spokane: 875
St. Peter, Spokane: 880
St. Charles, Spokane: 1,010
St. Aloysius, Spokane: 1,400
St. Thomas More, Spokane: 1,437
St. Patrick, Pasco: 1,600
St. Mary, Spokane: 1,751
Total Families: 24,702
St. Thomas More Newman Center, Pullman: 900 students
SS. Cyril and Methodius Byzantine Catholic Parish, Spokane: 29 families
St. Henry, Coulee Dam (Diocese of Yakima): 120 families

(Based on the Spokane Diocese Catholic Directory, 2001-2002)

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