Connecticut is one of the most Catholic states in the nation, with about 40 percent of residents saying they are Catholic. But if we’re just looking at the number of churches, some areas in the state are far more Catholic than others.
We put together a list of the nearly 450 Catholic churches in the state, using data from The Catholic Directory, a site devoted to keeping an updated list of Catholic churches in the world. It is likely this dataset isn’t complete, since it does not come from a centralized database. (And if you spot an inaccuracy, it may be worth letting them know.) But using that data, we can glean five broad trends:
Litchfield County has the most Catholic churches per capita
Litchfield County, in the northwest corner of the state, has about 1.5 times more churches per resident than the rest of the state. The county has fewer than 200,000 residents, but there are 33 churches. This rate is skewed by the handful of tiny towns with a single church, like Norfolk (population 1,500) and Canaan (population 1,150).
Rhode Island may have an influence
On the eastern border of the state, there are also high rates of Catholic churches per resident. This might be because those towns border Rhode Island, the most Catholic state in the nation, with about 54 percent of residents saying they are Catholic.
Towns with older populations have more churches
There is a moderate correlation between the rate of Catholic churches in a town and its median age. The clear outlier on the low end is Mansfield, home to the University of Connecticut, where the median age is 21 and there is only one church for about 26,400 residents. On the higher end, small towns with older residents, like Sharon and Canaan, stick out.
We also correlated this data with population and income. There is only a slight correlation with both: Smaller towns and those with lower median incomes tend to have more Catholic churches, but this a weak correlation.
Some larger towns have one church per 5,000 residents
Looking at towns with populations larger than 10,000 prevents smaller towns from skewing the data. That’s what the map below does, and it shows a few larger towns with high rates of Catholic churches per resident — Derby, Norwich, Plymouth and New Britain.
Churches are more evenly distributed than Dunkin’
Below is map, with a dot for every Catholic church in Connecticut.
We make a lot of dot maps at TrendCT, and one striking thing about the map above is the relatively even distribution of Catholic churches in even the most remote parts of the state.
If we look at the distribution of Dunkin’ Donuts or 24-hour restaurants, they cluster near big cities. And while there are large numbers of churches in New Haven, Bridgeport, Waterbury, Stamford and Hartford, the even distribution of churches across the state ensures that no Catholic has to drive very far on Sunday.