Diocesan News

Baptisms in Diocese of Brooklyn Rose in 2022 After a Decade in Decline

(Photo Illustration: Faby Rodriguez)

PROSPECT HEIGHTS — Baptisms inched back in the Diocese of Brooklyn in 2022 following a near decade-long decline, according to the latest data released. 

Meanwhile, diocesan leaders are waiting on data from 2023 to determine if the pandemic, or immigration, made unusual contributions. 

Still, the data from 2022 was welcome news, said Father Joseph Gibino, the vicar for evangelization and catechesis for the diocese, whose office collects the data.

“To see that the Catholic community is growing is always a very good thing,” he said.

The data from 2022 is the most recent available from Father Gibino’s office. It reported in late 2023 that the previous year saw 1,733 more baptisms than in 2021. 

These numbers show the first increase after the steady drop that began in 2013. That year, the diocese recorded 17,118 baptisms, but each subsequent year saw fewer babies at baptismal fonts in the diocese. 

By 2021, 6,850 baptisms were recorded. But that number shot up to 8,583 in 2022. 

“Now, how do we factor COVID into that?” Father Gibino asked. “Because that could explain why we would have had fewer baptisms in 2020 or 2021. 

“I mean, the churches were closed. And even after the churches opened a lot of parents were still hesitant to have babies baptized; restrictions were still pretty much in place.” 

But Father Gibino said another factor for the increase in 2022 might be the influx of immigrants bused up from the U.S. border starting in the summer of that year. 

Data takes a long time to be collected from the more than 170 parishes in the diocese. Still, it’s important information that helps leaders address downward trends in religious involvement across denominations in the U.S.

Father Gibino said catechesis is a solution for the annual drops in Mass attendance. 

Parishioners from throughout the diocese agreed with him through the synod process that asked people in the diocese to offer their opinions about the Church.

Father Gibino has previously noted that the three most recent generations of adults don’t feel adequately prepared to catechize. But, he added, it is not enough to have a child baptized; parents must be the first and best witnesses of the faith of children.

To that end, diocesan leaders have added another option beyond the traditional classroom-based model of catechesis.

Now, with encouragement from the diocese, more parents are involved in the faith formation of their children. Instead of dropping them off for weekly catechesis, the parents are teaching their kids at home.

The diocese helps parishes conduct faith-formation meetings to train parents how to teach the basic tenets of the faith and how to pray together as a family.

The goals are to boost the numbers of parents and children growing in the faith, which in turn could result in greater Mass attendance, plus more marriages, and, yes, baptisms.