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 one 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.
Atlanta is not alone. Charleston has seen a 50% increase in parishioners over the last decade. Charlotte grew by a third, as did Little Rock. The Diocese of Knoxville, established just 25 years ago, is now the 25th fastest growing in the nation ”” and would rank near the top if those official figures counted as many as 60,000 unregistered Hispanic congregants, according to a diocesan official.