Local Catholic clergymen and laypeople, supported by the Archdiocese of Guam, are seeking solutions from a declining island faithful flock.
A survey circulating local chat groups and social media platforms states that “in several recent presentations, Archbishop Michael Byrnes has advised that Catholic baptisms, Catholic weddings, Catholic school enrollment and even church attendance is down while Guam’s population has increased.”
The survey alleges that less than 50 percent of Guam’s population presently identifies as Catholic, and calls for the collaboration of the remaining “folks in the pew, to present our thoughts and have some input in our future.”
According to the 2010 Census, Guam’s population of 159,358, at the time, rounded out to about 75 percent Roman Catholic and 17 percent Protestant, with the remainder identifying as other denominations.
Tony Diaz, communications director for the archdiocese, confirmed the suspicions in the survey and said Coadjutor Bishop Byrnes is also aware of its circulation. He supports its cause.
A local deacon and longtime Catholic within the archdiocese wrote and disseminated the survey, but chose to remain anonymous in accordance with the mission of the survey.
Through a grass-roots effort, the deacon hopes the community will contribute their vision of the archdiocese 10 years down the line.
“How would you like to envision the Archdiocese of Agaña in the year 2028? We know where we are now, but, where do we, as a people of faith, want to be going?” the survey asks.
Despite the slew of recent church abuse allegations, the deacon reassured parishioners of the path forward, stating that the issue “will be over before the start of the next decade and we need to think beyond the present and the path we should be on.”
The deacon, along with other Catholic laymen, is preparing a white paper, or formal documentation, of the responses they receive, which will be submitted to Byrnes for review.
“This is a long-term effort to find out what the people of Guam/the Archdiocese really want to see in their future. The agenda should be theirs,” the deacon told The Guam Daily Post.
Although the discussion was not prompted or mandated by Byrnes, he will take into account the responses the deacon receives.
“The archbishop and archdiocese welcomes it as we try to unite across all fronts and move forward,” Diaz said on behalf of Byrnes. “It’s a journey that’s going to take many, many steps, but we’re grateful for the many individuals helping.”