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BG Falcon Media

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BG Falcon Media

St. Joseph Catholic Church welcomes newcomers as church attendance rises

Abbie Spillis describes the increase in Mass attendance at St. Joseph Catholic Church.

Abbie Spillis, the director of engagement and marketing at Saint Joseph’s Catholic Church in Maumee, said the church is a place for everyone to come as they are regarding Mass attendance and membership during an interview last week.  

As part of a concerted effort, the members of St. Joseph’s parish staff have been finding ways to encourage and support both new and existing parishioners and to provide a welcoming environment for faith and community. Spillis explained in an interview Thursday what her role has been managing the influx of people since she was hired in 2022. 


Q: When did the increase in Mass attendance at Saint Joe’s begin rising so significantly? 

A: The increase in Mass attendance started rising significantly when we instituted the Weekend Experience, and I believe that was a little before my time in November of 2021. So, coming out of COVID, we started having a staff person here on Sundays, answering questions and leaving the office open. Then since November of 2021, we have 262 new families that have joined… We’re on the brink of 2,500 registered families at Saint Joe’s, which, break that down and that’s 10,000 people. 

Q: Why do you think the increase happened? 

A: I think the increase happened because when I started, they instituted Amazing Parish. The Amazing Parish is a program that churches put out that basically says open your doors, welcome everybody, be here with the people… So really switching our model to supporting the people, and not making it hard for them to get in touch with us. And then there was a real shift when COVID hit, and I think people really found out that faith is what they desired. Then we were trying different things here and just being more hospitable… people really started being drawn back. 

Q: Have you done anything as Director of Engagement and Marketing to encourage the increase? 

A: I think just being there for people, trying to learn as many people’s names as possible… but a big thing is just not hiding behind the parish window, so really engaging out there… a lot of people think that if you’re not Catholic or if you’re just visiting that we’re going to shun them, well, no, that’s instantly wrong… I want to try to support people no matter what… It’s hard for me because I see us growing, and our Mass attendance growing, and our attendance at volunteer events… my big fear now is that I’m going to miss ministering to someone who really needs it, or we’re not going to have a seat for somebody who wants to draw themselves closer… Knowing how the Holy Spirit has moved and transformed the campus… I can’t worry about that, I just have to be myself, open the doors for people, support them, answer questions, and if I continue to do that, He will take care of the rest. 

Q: What do you feel the parish as a whole has done to manage the influx of people? 

A: As a church, we have 55 different committees and ministries… and then you have people who don’t know each other, but we have this beautiful parish that comes together, so really opening up Soup and Bread to all ages… We’ve really tried to switch up making sure that we thank everybody, task big or small, because 17 parish office staff members can’t minister to 10,000 people; it takes every single one of us… even though we do have our specific lanes, we all overlap, we support each other, we come together… so, I think that’s been able to help us minister and really disciple a lot more people that way, too. 

Q: Do you feel there have been any negative impacts of the influx or anything that was difficult to combat? 

A: Right when I started in January 2022… Father Eric (Schild) was still fairly new because we were just coming out of COVID… so he would have a quick conversation with somebody, or a homily that really stuck with somebody, and that would draw them to continue to come… For a while, I saw him leaving as a challenge because then what we’re going to do is see him go and… sweating that numbers were just going to plummet. I can firmly say that I don’t feel that anymore. His homily or his radical hospitality are drawing people in, but they’re finding something else that really gets them to stick here at Saint Joe’s. 

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    Elaine RaglowOct 24, 2023 at 10:00 am

    What about your inviting new members to a breakfast or brunch, that I heard the parish does. That seems really important.