The Changing Demographics of the Catholic Community in Columbus, Ohio

Columbus, Ohio is home to a large Catholic population, with 278,528 Catholics and 105 parishes. The city has a long history of Catholic presence, beginning with the arrival of Iroquois tribes in 1650 and the conversion of a small group of Mohawks and Onondagas to Catholicism. In the 1850s, Catholics were victims of the Knowing Nothing Party, who opposed their presence in the city. In 1816, Columbus was designated the capital of Ohio and the Catholic population grew. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus is welcoming to Latinos, with 15 parishes offering Masses in Spanish.

The Pontifical Josephus College, the only papal seminary outside of Italy, was founded in Columbus in 1888 by Joseph Jessing for German-speaking Catholics. African-American Catholics have also had a long and hard struggle to be allowed a place in the Church. At 24%, Catholics are more likely than their non-Catholic counterparts (9%) to believe that sexual abuse in the Church is a thing of the past. Bishop Earl K. Wagner has noted that compared to the large populations of Cincinnati and Cleveland, Columbus has not been a Catholic city.

In response to demographic changes, declining priesthood, aging infrastructure and budgetary challenges, the diocese published a “pastoral plan” on Wednesday to review the structure of its 105 parishes that extend across 23 Ohio counties. The Catholic Church does everything possible to serve holistically, including offering help to those in need and working to build a family community within parishes. Latino Catholics maintain their culture through their unique parishes. Nor did they like Catholics teaching their children in parochial schools rather than in secular public schools. The demographics of the Catholic community in Columbus, Ohio have changed significantly over time due to immigration, population growth and other factors. Despite this, Catholicism remains an important part of life in Columbus and continues to be an integral part of its culture. The diocese is taking steps to ensure that all members of the Catholic community are welcomed and included.

They are also working to ensure that parishes are able to meet the needs of their communities by providing services such as Masses in Spanish and outreach programs for those in need. The diocese is also looking at ways to improve infrastructure and reduce budgetary challenges. The changing demographics of the Catholic community in Columbus, Ohio are reflective of larger trends across the country. As immigration continues to shape our nation's religious landscape, it is important for churches to remain open and welcoming to all people regardless of race or ethnicity.

Eloise Goodier
Eloise Goodier

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