British writer Charles Wentworth Dike once quipped, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."
For the last few years we have seen in the press lots of statistics that would suggest that the Catholic Church in America is in decline: huge numbers of Catholics leaving the church, etc. A more careful analysis by CARA at Georgetown would point out that, our exit numbers are huge because we are huge. The good news, however, is that the Catholic Church's retention rate (the percentage of those who grew up Catholic who still self identify as adult Catholics) is higher than any religious groups but the Jews, and Mormons.
Does this mean we should abandon the New Evangelization? No! What it means is that there is a reason to remain filled with joy over what has been accomplished in the two millennia.
In the first reading we continue to hear how St. Paul expanded the church to include all peoples. Each of us must continue that mission in two ways: inviting those who have not truly heard the Good News of Jesus Christ, and reaching out to those are by virtue of their baptism truly members of our Church but have drifted (or sometimes run) away from the practice of that faith.
We are still the largest religious group in America. Let us hold on to the Matt 16:18
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.