Sunday Mass Attendance

2023 Report


This report demonstrates a positive trend in Mass attendance. In tandem with fewer Masses and scheduling changes, we saw church utilization increase, moving us closer to our target.

Take a deeper look at the findings of the 2023 attendance report.

Mass attendance increased

Fewer Masses were offered

Church utilization is up

Sunday Mass Attendance

Sunday Mass attendance increased in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati 4.5% from October 2022 to October 2023, continuing a rebound in participation since the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021 we saw more than a 52% return, another 6.5% in 2022, and 4.5% in 2023. While we remain down from our 2019 pre-pandemic attendance, three years of increase is a strong and encouraging trend for our archdiocese that will hopefully continue as Families of Parishes focus on the vision for the future and the “Why” at the root of the Beacons of Light project: “To proclaim the Gospel and make disciples in this particular time and place.” Participation in the Eucharist, and in particular Sunday Mass, is a foundational principle in Beacons of Light.

It’s encouraging to see that Sunday Mass attendance at 67 churches has returned to pre-pandemic levels. Yet 97 churches are still more than 20% down from 2019.


After reducing over 100 Sunday Masses across the archdiocese since 2019 we are nonetheless seeing a steady increase in Mass attendance. One factor that could impact Mass attendance is changes to the number of Masses for the Sunday obligation a Family of Parishes offers. The parameters of Beacons of Light define how many Masses Church law allows each priest to celebrate daily and how to calibrate the number of Masses offered in a church based on utilization of seating. These parameters exist not only to guard against over-extending our priests, but also to result in church buildings that are at least half-full for any given Sunday Mass, fostering greater participation.

Over the last two years, many Families of Parishes have begun to adjust their weekend Mass schedules to conform more closely to these parameters. Outcomes have varied from Family to Family and parish to parish but overall, changes in Sunday Mass schedule have not adversely affected attendance. Specific situations require investigation to better understand the underlying root causes given there does not appear to be a correlation or causation between the two factors when looking at the local level.



The regular Mass schedule for a Family of Parishes may not assume more than two Masses per day per priest.

Church Utilization

In 2023 we have an overall average across all churches of 48% utilization, up 14% from 2021, and near our target of 50%. From 2022 to 2023, 68% (144) of churches improved their utilization for Sunday Masses. This means that churches are fuller, meaning more vibrant liturgical celebrations and a better use of human and physical resources. In some cases, the increased utilization results from simply reporting capacity more accurately to an archdiocesan standard (27”). In most cases this improvement in utilization is due to a careful reduction in the number of Sunday Masses. There are still 58 (27%) of our churches with declining utilization numbers (13 of these have been declining for over two years) which need attention to this matter.

Whereas many smaller churches have appropriately adjusted their Sunday Mass schedule to reach an appropriate level of utilization, many larger churches have further work to do in this regard.



A regularly scheduled Mass for the Sunday precept must have annual average attendance of at least 50% of the church capacity.

Movement of Worshipers Between Churches

The impact of Beacons of Light and the groupings of parishes into Families upon Mass attendance cannot be measured beyond the total increase from 2022-2023 of 4.5%. Actual attendance is not taken at Mass and parish registration status does not perfectly match attendance at the parochial church. Further study will need to be undertaken to assess if people are moving more frequently between churches in their Family, among other Families in their deanery, or to other churches beyond the deanery. Pastors and parish leaders may be able to observe such patterns with reporting tools available at the parish level.