St. Mary Magdalene takes a planning census

St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church, Simpsonville, South Carolina (Photo/Diocesan Archives)

St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church, Simpsonville, South Carolina (Photo/Diocesan Archives)SIMPSONVILLE—St. Mary Magdalene Church is holding its first census to find out exactly how many people are in the rapidly growing parish.

After the final blessing at each Mass Dec. 4-5, one member of each family will be asked to fill out a census form, with a second chance from Dec. 11-12. The forms will also be available to download from the parish web site,

Staff members will compile the information into a database that hopefully will be available in January, said Kristin Johnson, chair of St. Mary Magdalene’s pastoral council.

The forms will request basic information about each person in a household, and give the option for people to note what sacraments family members have received, whether anyone is homebound or has special needs, and what languages are spoken in the home.

“The data will be a snapshot of who we are as a parish family,” Johnson said.

The information will drive planning in terms of faith formation education and initiatives, support for our parish’s families, staffing, fellowship and ministry, and facilities.

Council members and their pastor, Father Teofilo Trujillo, initiated the census because it will provide the first parish profile since its founding in 1989.

“We all were thinking along the same lines, and the Holy Spirit must have really led to that,” Johnson said. “We agreed that we really need to know who we are as a church.”

Earlier this year, 3,100 households were registered at St. Mary Magdalene, but Johnson said the number has likely increased. Recent data showed that more than 50 percent of members had joined in the past two to five years. Lately, many Masses, especially those in Spanish, have been standing-room only.

Two factors have contributed to the growth:  Many Catholics have moved to the Upstate to work for Michelin, BMW, General Electric and other companies, and the Hispanic community in Simpsonville has flocked to the church since Father Trujillo was assigned there in 2008.

Johnson’s family moved to Simpsonville 11 years ago because her husband Scott works with General Electric. She said St. Mary Magdalene quickly became a spiritual home.

“It’s a comfortable suburban parish,” she said. “There are a lot of folks here who are not from this area, and we get together and support each other. The atmosphere is very easygoing, and it’s just easy to come and find people you can relate to at our church.”