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Larry Ford wrote:

Hi, guys —

Sorry to bother you with this, but I'm doing research for a client and having trouble finding the answers.

  • If you can, please tell me what, in terms of families, constitutes a large, medium and small parish?

I'll give you credit in the research documents I have to turn over to my client.


  { What, in terms of families, constitutes a large, medium and small Catholic parish? }

Bob replied:


I would stop by a Catholic parish and ask if you could borrow a Catholic Directory for the diocese.

There you can obtain statistics on all kinds of variables:

  • sacramental indexes
  • parishioners, and
  • other key data.

From that, you could compare the largest to smallest population [and/or] sacramental indices.

From Wikipedia:

The sacramental index is a statistic sometimes used by Roman Catholic bishops as a rough approximation of how active a parish is, based on the occurrence of sacraments or rites of passage. The precise formula varies.

In the Archdiocese of Boston, the sacramental index for a parish is calculated by adding the total numbers of baptisms and funerals, and twice the number of weddings.

That, in my view, is the best way to obtain an objective measurement.


Bob Kirby

Fr. Jonathan replied:

Hi Larry,

Yes, it varies by the diocese.

If you want a national index you need to try:

  1. the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops), or
  2. perhaps the Kenedy directory

Fr. Jonathan

Larry replied:

Bob and Father,

Thank you very much!

I appreciate it.


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