The decline of the Catholic Church in America was happening rapidly before COVID-19. Returning to the methods that produced the radical decline in Sunday Mass attendance along with the low numbers of marriages, baptisms, catechumens, and overall members practicing their faith would be both ignorant and fatal. What we need now is a shift that runs away from the patterns of the previous decades and runs toward the apostolic fervor of the early Church.
Now that COVID-19 restrictions and its effects are beginning to loosen, there is a push for society, country, and church to return to “normal.” The implicit claim in this notion is that the way these spheres were operating pre-pandemic were worthwhile. In regards to the Church, the claim would be that the “normal” modes of operation were highly successful in forming and molding intentional disciples. However, the opposite is true.
Both before and after the pandemic, major percentages of the Catholic faithful decided to live out their life with God in the background at best or absolutely absent at worst. It has become commonplace for parishes to funnel children through faith formation and sacramental preparation knowing and accepting that between First Holy Communion and Confirmation they will disappear for a time, and that after Confirmation they will disappear forever.