While the Catholic Church's election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope Francis has sparked a slew of buzz among Catholics in San Mateo County, one thing is clear: the new Pope has thousands of more followers in San Mateo County than any of his predecessors.
According to U.S. Census data, the percentage change** of San Mateo County residents identifying as adherent Catholics rose 16.5 percent from 2000 to 2010.1952 1971 1980 1990 2000 2010 Catholics 72086 136455 133320 165966 205991 243634 Total Population 235659 556234 587329 649623 707163 718451 % of Catholics 30.6% 24.5% 22.7% 25.5% 29.1% 33.9%
Note: The percent increase between 2000 and 2010 is 4.8 percent, but the percent change from 2000 and 2010 is 4.8 percent divided by 29.1 percent, which is 16.5 percent.
Though the numbers say there has been an increase, Father Diarmuid Casey of St. Dunstan's Parish in Millbrae has personally noticed a decline in the Catholic population in the county.
"I have been told that the second largest religious body in the United States after Catholics are people who say they are ex-Catholics," Father Casey said. "They are called ‘nones' because when asked what religion they are on the census form, they write 'none.'"
He added that the large immigration of Hispanics to the area may account for the overall increase in Catholics. Casey was a pastor at St. Athanasius church in Mountain View for 15 years, but left because the parish needed a priest who could speak Spanish, he said.
"Of the 1,600 people who attended church every Sunday, 800 attended the Spanish mass," Casey said. "You also had about 10 times more Hispanic baptisms than any other ethnic group."
Silvia Chiesa, the Pastoral Associate and the Director of Religious Education at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Burlingame agreed, "I have definitely seen an increase in Hispanic children being enrolled in after school religious education classes."
Do you subscribe to the San Bruno Patch newsletter? It brings our latest stories, blogs, announcements and the day's calendar events to your in-box early each morning. Follow San Bruno Patch on Facebook and Twitter.
Do you have opinions, experiences and views to share? Consider becoming a San Bruno Patch blogger!
If there’s something in this article you think should be corrected, or if something else is amiss email the editor at email@example.com.