For the past 15 years, the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University has been guiding pastors and parish leadership through developing pastoral plans by providing sound research on parishioner attitudes and concerns. This research provides the opportunity to hear many voices from parish constituencies and to develop one plan for your parish community. Click the button below for more information:

Parish Surveys Overview

CARA knows you are busy. Parishes are growing, merging and changing all the time. Staff time is being stretched, and the work is multiplying. We know you need to plan for the future, but have little time to do so. We have streamlined our parish surveys to minimize time investment while maximizing results. We know that youare watching your budget. We know you are pinching every penny and maximizing every dollar. Our parish surveys are designed to save you money while getting the answers you need to plan effectively for the future. Click the button below for an overview of pricing:

Pricing Overview

We know you need answers. Demographic shifts, changes in Mass attendance, and increasing outreach to targeted populations makes even the smallest parish's pastoral plan seem like a moving target. Over the past 15 years, CARA has developed a nationally-tested bank of questions to get the data you need on the topics that concern you most. Using our seven areas of parish life as a framework - including leadership, stewardship, evangelization and others - we know how to ask questions about the challenges facing parishes today.

CARA knows you need clear answers to the questions driving your pastoral planning. We know that while parishes across the country may be facing similar issues, each parish is unique in its approach and scope of service. We know that in the world of parish planning, not one size fits all. That is why we developed our parish services selector - an interactive tool to help you determine just which services might best fit your parish:

Parish Services Selector

Parish Survey Reports:

Generally, there are two kinds of standard parish survey reports that parishes can request. The first, the Parish Narrative Report, outlines the findings of the parish survey, and includes some sub-group analyses. The second, the Parish Comparative Report, includes both the findings of the parish survey and sub-group analyses and comparisons to parishes nationally.

Narrative Example Comparative Example

Frequently asked Parish Survey Questions:

What sorts of things should I be thinking about if I want to do a survey in my parish?
Using more than a decade of pastoral research, CARA has developed a framework to guide parish planners in focusing their parish survey. CARA's Seven Elements of Parish Life (click here) should be prayerfully read, and time should be spent discussing each area in relation to your particular parish and pastoral needs. You should also check out our interactive parish services selector to determine your parish's research needs.

How do I choose which questions to ask?
Parishes are asked to select between 60 and 80 questions from CARA's nationally tested bank of question. Parishes are also encouraged to craft questions that meet the unique needs of their community. A more detailed description of the process of choosing questions is available here. A typical survey is the front and back of one sheet of paper.

How are data collected?
For a variety of methodological reasons, data are collected in-pew (click here for an overview). Parishes select one weekend for dissemination of the questionnaire in-pew. At each Mass, pastors are encouraged to give a short homily, followed by distribution of the survey and collection after a period of about 7 to 10 minutes for completion.

How long does this process take?
Depending on the number of people involved in crafting the questionnaire, a parish survey can take as little as 8 to 10 weeks. The majority of time is spent carefully choosing questions, designing the questionnaire, and inputting data. CARA researchers can work with your parish to meet your timeline.

How much will a survey cost my parish?
Parish surveys and reports costs will vary depending on the level of detail your parish requests, as well as additional services your parish needs. An overview of the typical costs of a parish survey can be found here. Additional services, including parish focus groups, town hall style meetings, and other qualitative data, as well as Geographic Information Services (GIS) mapping, customized PowerPoint Presentations, and more, can be discussed with a CARA researcher.

How can I find out more about parish surveys?
Contact Melissa Cidade, Parish Survey Director, by calling (202) 687-1290 or by email. Or, follow us on Twitter: @ParishSurveys or on Facebook!