About CARA

The CARA Vision

pic-2CARA is a national, non-profit, Georgetown University affiliated research center that conducts  social scientific studies about the Catholic Church. Founded in 1964, CARA has three major dimensions to its mission:

  • to increase the Church’s self understanding
  • to serve the applied research needs of Church decision-makers
  • to advance scholarly research on religion, particularly Catholicism.

CARA has more than 50 years of experience in quality social science research on the Catholic Church. We offer a range of research and consulting services for dioceses, parishes, religious communities and institutes, and other Catholic organizations. CARA’s longstanding policy is to let research findings stand on their own and never take an advocacy position or go into areas outside its social science competence. All CARA researchers have advanced degrees in relevant academic disciplines as well as pastoral experience. CARA researchers are active in the academic community publishing and presenting research about the Catholic Church.

For more information about CARA’s beginnings read the following Review of Religious Research article from 1967 by Francis X. Gannon entitled, Bridging the Research Gap: CARA, Response to Vatican II

What We Do

CARA is a full-service, applied social science research center that studies Catholicism and the Catholic Church. Some of the things we can do for our clients include:

  • Surveys (online, mail, telephone)
  • Focus Groups (in-person and online)
  • Personal Interviews (in-person, telephone, online)
  • Demographics/Planning (diocesan, parish, schools, charities, social services)
  • Trend Analysis, Forecasting, and Projections
  • Mapping
  • Annual Data Collection for Organizations
  • Program Reviews
  • Market Research
  • Experiment Research (e.g., pre-test, post-test)
  • Archival/Historical Research
  • Grant Research (i.e., conducting research for a client’s grant project)
  • White Papers
  • Presentations/Speaking
  • Writing and Reporting (academic, Catholic press, news)
  • Data Entry/Database Creation and Maintenance
  • Independent, Tailored Analyses

Although CARA is usually considered to have been a product of the Church’s increasing openness to science and research resulting from the Second Vatican Council (1962 to 1965), CARA’s origins go back even farther. As early as 1951 the superiors of U.S. missionary institutes called for a national research center to help reshape the missioner’s role in the emerging Third World churches. But the immediate impetus for such an organization was an article in 1961 by Richard Cardinal Cushing, on “The Modern Challenge of the Missions,” in the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Boston.

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Archbishop Aymond

Currently under the direction of board chair
Most Rev. Gregory Aymond, D.D. Archbishop of New Orleans.
CARA has a history of strong leadership and service to the Church.

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The Richard Cardinal Cushing Medal

This medal is named after the Boston archbishop who was one of the  principal founders of CARA. and is awarded annually to a person or organization that has advanced Church research through their active support of research and their understanding of its uses.

Mr. Robert Lockwood;
Mr. Fred Hofheinz;
Dr. Francis J. Butler;
Rev. Paul Philibert, OP;
Msgr. Philip J. Murnion;
The Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism; 2004
Sr. Mary Peter Traviss, OP; 2005
Msgr. Francis J. Maniscalco; 2007
Rev. Mario B. Viscaino; 2008
Br. Bernard F. Stratman, SM; 2009
Bishop William Friend; 2010
The Raskob Foundation; 2012
Mr. Neil Parent; 2013
The Oblate School of Theology; 2014
Sr. Mary Ann Walsh, RSM; 2015
Dr. Timothy Matovina; 2016
Gregory Erlandson; 2017

Deacon Gerald Dupont; 2018

The Rev. Louis Luzbetak, SVD Award for Exemplary Church Research

The Luzbetak award, named in honor of CARA’s first executive director, is given annually to a researcher who has made a significant lifetime contribution to research on the Catholic Church.

Dr. Ruth Narita Doyle;
Rev. John A. Coleman, SJ;
Sr. Marie Augusta Neal, SNDdeN;
Dr. Dean R. Hoge;
Dr. Ruth A. Wallace; 2004
Sr. Katarina Schuth, OSF; 2005
The Glenmary Research Center; 2006
Dr. James D. Davidson; 2007
Dr. Anthony M. Stevens-Arroyo; 2008
Dr. William D’Antonio; 2009
Sr. Miriam D. Ukeritis, CSJ; 2010
Rev. Francis Sheets, OSC; 2011
Dr. Robert Miller; 2012
Sr. Patricia Wittberg, SC; 2015
Dr. Michael Cieslak; 2016
Mr. Mark Mogilka; 2017
Center for Church Management, Villanova University; 2018