EASTON, Mass.—Holy Cross Family Ministries and the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University teamed up for a four-part study on Catholic parents and families leading up the World Meeting of Families in September.

The first report, an overview called “The Catholic Family: 21st Century Challenges in the United States,” was released at the Catholic Media Convention on June 26.

 “Deepening our knowledge and understanding of these young families is central to our development of activities and initiatives that enhance their spiritual well-being and health.” said Rev. Willy Raymond, C.S.C., president of Holy Cross Family Ministries. “They are the future of our Church and society. Some of the data is remarkably different from the studies on Catholic adults as a whole. This information is invaluable as we plan and grow our outreach to families. It will also be of great benefit to all those who are ministering to these young families.”

Last fall, CARA conducted a national poll of more than a thousand adult Catholic parents ages 25 to 45 to measure the practice of faith and use of media in families.

“This study gives us specific insight into what is happening in Catholic families today,” said Mark Gray, CARA senior research associate. “We don’t often have the opportunity to do an entire survey on one sub-group of the Catholic population. However, doing this research during the Synods on the Family seemed especially important. I’m glad we were able to do it because we ended up being surprised by many of the findings.”

Among the results:

  • Catholic families are more racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse than the overall Catholic population. About 53 percent of all Catholic parents self-identified as Hispanic or Latino compared with 32 percent of all Catholics.
  • Most Catholic children are being raised by married Catholic parents—about eight in ten Catholic mothers and fathers are married and less than 1 percent are widowed, while about 3 percent have never been married and 13 percent are singled and living with a  partner.
  • Frequency of Mass attendance is similar between Catholic parents and all adult Catholics—about 22 percent—yet a larger proportion of Catholic parents attend Mass less than once a week. Catholic parents with three or more children are much more likely to attend Mass at least once a month.
  • While more than 93 percent of parents say it is very important for their children to celebrate Sacraments, most Catholic parents do not have their children enrolled in Catholic school-based or a parish-based religious education programs. In all, more than two-thirds, 68 percent, do not have any of their children enrolled in formal Catholic religious education.
  • About 66 percent of parents say that it is very important for their children to celebrate First Communion, while only 61 give the same importance to Confirmation.
  • Overall, 71 percent of parents agree “somewhat” or “strongly” that prayer is essential to their faith. Only about 36 percent pray at least once a day, however. An additional 23 percent pray at least once a week.
  • And when they pray, parents most commonly pray for the wellbeing of their families (83 percent). Only 16 percent of parents say they pray the Rosary at least once a month.
  • More than four in ten Catholic parents read their church bulletin.

Other HCFM/CARA reports and their release month are:

  • The Catholic Family Today, July;
  • Practice of Faith in the Catholic Family, August; and
  • Catholic Families and Media Use, September.

Read the first report and subscribe to receive the other reports on the HCFM website.

HCFM and Ave Maria Press are apostolates of the Congregation of Holy Cross, United States Province of Priests and Brothers.