2017 Parish Survey Results

We are very happy to share with you the results of our most recent survey. The joy and effort of our staff and volunteers continues to bear fruit in our community. Thank you to all our parishioners who took the time to share their valuable insights!

Who took the Survey?


137 parishioners completed this anonymous survey between April 2-10, 2017.  The survey was announced at all Sunday Masses and a web link was made available through (a) two emails, (b) the parish web site, and (c) social media.

Holding steady with last year’s results, our October count showed that 700 persons attended Mass on average on Sundays. Based on the survey results, the parish is mostly a student and young adult parish, with 77% of respondents being under the age of 30 and 85% under the age of 40.

75% of survey respondents were undergraduate or graduate students. Undergraduates were the largest student group (55%), and graduate students were a major presence (20%). A quarter, or 25%, of the respondents were permanent local residents, which included university faculty and staff.

How would you rate your overall experience at St. Agatha - St. James?


95% rate their overall experience of parish life as “excellent” or “good.”  This is an increase compared with last year:  “excellent” from 46% to 52% and “excellent” and “good” from 90% to 95%.



To what extent does the parish and its ministries encourage you to open your heart to Jesus and to following His Way?

Almost everyone surveyed said that St. AJ encourages them to open their hearts to Jesus and His way. 60% find that St. AJ ministries “greatly” encourage them, and 37% are “moderately” encouraged.  Over a hundred parishioners made comments on why their experience is positive, with each of the following receiving numerous mentions:

  • The homilies
  • Liturgy and reverence
  • Fr. Carlos and the priests
  • The Sodalit brothers
  • The “atmosphere” and the beauty of the Church
  • Many activities being offered
  • The music
  • The Newman Center
  • The welcoming community
  • Fellowship and friendship

About 68 people responded with suggestions for improvement.  By far the most mentioned suggestion is for the liturgical music to be improved.  Other areas in need of improvement that received several mentions are:

  • Intellectual engagement
  • Mass scheduling
  • More involvement and activities for non-student parishioners
  • Improvement in the facilities.

Rate your experience attending Sunday Masses

(% Rated Excellent or Good in 2017, % Rated Excellent or Good in 2016)

Reading of Scripture: 95%, 90%

Care in the Celebration of the Mass: 95%, 91%

Homilies: 92%, 87%

Feeling Welcome: 91%, 87%

Sound System: 80%, 63%

Participation of those around me: 75%, 62%

Music: 72%, 65%

Confession: 92%, n/a

There were mostly positive responses regarding the experience of attending Sunday Masses.  Music and participation continue to not be rated as highly, but they are higher than last year.  The new sound system had the most significant rise from 63% to 80%.


What do you specifically most like about the celebration of the Mass?

There were many positive responses. Here are some illustrative quotations:

“Father Carlos' homilies! I feel that he really tries to relate to the majority population at St. AJ (college students). He keeps himself connected to what's going on in our lives, and his homilies are always appropriate, thoughtful, and interesting!”

“The mass is always celebrated reverently.”

“I also enjoy the service music and hymns.”

“The church itself is beautiful, even if it's a bit tattered in places.”


What specific improvements would you like to see in the Mass?

Some illustrative quotations:

“The only thing I think really needs improvement is the music.”

“The homilies are so important in any parish, but I think they are really important in a university parish community.  I like the homilies, but I really want the priests to have time to prepare them well.  This is when the most people are touched by word of God and reflections on it.”

“Continue community building… more choir support.”

Rate the activities in which you personally participated

Participation in activities beyond Mass varied.  For each of the following activities, most of the 137 respondents did not participate, but those that did rated them very positively.


What specific things do you like about these activities?

As with last year’s survey, overwhelmingly, parishioners like the opportunity to meet, make friends, and bond with other people. Hospitality after mass is very well rated. Many highlighted the experience of inclusiveness, being welcome, fellowship and friendship.

The activities/events were appreciated for three other reasons:

  • The variety of activities available: “I am glad that the parish has all of the activities listed (in survey).  They all serve different needs.   I like the mere availability of these diverse activities.”
  • The spiritual enrichment: Adoration, Bible Study, Faith Formation, and the Processions: “Adoration - I am a big believer in the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. I like that it is candlelit and quiet. It gives you a moment to just be still and have a peaceful moment with God.”
  • Christ in the City: “Christ in the City- I love going in small groups so you get to know the people in your groups on the way over and back and simply sitting with those on the streets and learning about their life and their struggles.”


What additional activities, or specific improvements, would you like to see in these activities?

Only about a quarter of respondents offered suggestions for activities.

  • The most commonly cited suggestion/comment revolved around the issue of students and non-students inhabiting a university oriented parish (7 mentions): “Anyone who comes to Mass is a parishioner.  We simply have permanent residents and students of all types coming to the same church.”
  • As with last year, a common suggestion was to have more social events or programs for young adults, graduate students, or community members (5 mentions): “I would like to see more within the Young Adult group geared towards helping navigate through young adult life, rather than the recent focus on liturgy.”
  • Better communication of already-existing events (5 mentions): “I did not know that many of these activities existed. They should be advertised more.”


Final Remarks:

  • Overall there were many positive comments about the liturgy, people appreciated the care, reverence and beauty with which the liturgy is celebrated, and find it meaningful in their lives.
  • Music is mentioned as being uplifting and positive, but it is also mentioned as being in need of general improvement. Clearly music is important to those who come to Sts. AJ.  Some would prefer it to be more traditional whilst others more “upbeat”.
  • Many people commented on the sense of friendship, fellowship, community, and welcoming in our parish.  The hospitality and sense of unity and community are clearly something very important to many people.  The Sunday hospitality and the sharing of parish meals with their great sense of coming together as a family were much appreciated and are very important to our parish.


For a PDF version of the survey results, click here.