Protestant South Becoming a New Catholic Stronghold (2013)

st-_dominics_monastery_courtyardDixie Catholics credit the strong Southern sense of community, and dialogue with faithful Protestants, with helping to power the Church’s growth there.

LINDEN, Va. — In the waves of turbulence that rippled throughout the Catholic Church in the 1970s, the nuns of St. Dominic’s Monastery found themselves forced to leave their longtime home in Wisconsin in search of a new one.

The nuns moved to a temporary residence in Washington, D.C., while looking for a permanent setting conducive to the cloistered, contemplative life they sought to lead. It would be more than two decades before they found one. When they did, it was in what may seem a most unlikely place: the rural northeast of Virginia, considered one of the Protestant Bible Belt states of the South.

The story of St. Dominic’s Monastery’s southern move may be the story of U.S. Catholicism. New data shows that some of the fastest-growing dioceses in the country are deep in the U.S. South.

The third-fastest-developing diocese is Atlanta, which saw the number of registered parishioners explode from nearly 322,000 in 2002 to 1 million in 2012 — an increase of more than twofold, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University. Atlanta also has the largest Eucharistic Congress in the country, with an annual attendance of about 30,000, according to an archdiocesan official. Source

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