Sunday, December 26, 2004

Crunching the numbers
... and some Christmas snacks! Okay, let's crunch the Christmas attendance numbers.

First, to set the scene, the normal weekend attendance (read: non-Christmas). This parish has four weekend Masses: Two Saturday Vigils (one English; one Spanish) and two Masses on Sunday (one English; one Spanish). On average, about 376 people attend English Masses over the course of a weekend; about 520 for Spanish Masses. Weekend total is 896 people. That's a normal weekend (I didn't use figures from the Our Lady of Guadalupe weekend, which were off the charts!).

Now, unfortunately I don't have an exact count of attendance at Midnight Mass, but I estimate that there were about 300 in attendance. Christmas Day Mass had 149 in attendance. That's a total of 449 for the Solemnity of Christmas, a shortage of 447 people, basically half of the normal attendance. Now, I realize using these figures exactly is tough since there are many guests at Christmas, out-of-towners, and the infamous Christmas/Easter Catholics. I know many people were traveling.

Now, attendance for today, Sunday, December 26th -- this is where it gets interesting. We had 213 people in attendance for English Mass and 438 for Spanish Mass. If you compare normal average attendance at English Mass with attendance at English Mass today, you notice that the figure is down by 163 people. If you do the same comparison with the attendance at Spanish Mass today, the figure is only down by a bit less than 100. In other words, attendance today at English Mass was down by about 43%; attendance at Spanish Mass only by about 16%. The English-attending crowd both by real numbers and by proportion were much more absent today. However, their absence remained fairly consistent over the course of Christmas and today (since those in attendance at either of the Christmas Masses were largely English speaking). That would lead me to believe that such folk probably were away traveling. Taking into consideration the English attendance today, the presumed number of English speakers at Christmas Masses was a bit inflated, but that can be explained by the many guests we had in town or passing through. I am surprised by the numbers at Spanish Mass today, which were totally inconsistent with what I saw at Christmas Masses. I thought many, many of them returned to Mexico. Lack of attendance at a Christmas Mass seemed to confirm that suspicion. However, the packed house today at the Spanish Mass, seems to point to something else (that is, unless everyone mysteriously drove back from Mexico on Christmas Day and made it to Mass early this afternoon).

It is a very curious situation. I don't remember there being such a disparity between Christmas attendance and average normal attendance last year at Spanish-speaking Masses. I might need to do some catechesis regarding Holy Days of Obligation.

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