CARA Parish Life Surveys: Illuminating Parish Life Through Research


For more than 20 years, CARA has been meeting the research and planning needs of parishes like yours! In our work with over 900 parishes, we designed our Parish Life Surveys (PLS) to help parishes develop pastoral plans that are attentive to the needs of the people of the parish community. Using a survey tailored to the needs of your parish but with CARA’s nationally-tested bank of questions, your parish can use the survey to gain a broad perspective about many facets of parish life or to focus in on specific needs such as stewardship, evangelization, or issues facing parishes being clustered or merged. Rather than just hear from those already most involved in parish life, our surveys will give voice to a cross-section of parishioners and others attending Masses and functions at your parish. Our surveys typically include questions about satisfaction with aspects of parish life, needs assessments, attitudes, and demographic and religious characteristics. Our prices and levels of service make it easier to find just the right fit for your parish’s needs. To dig deeper into what a CARA Parish Life Survey offers explore the links below. If you have any questions or wish to start the process of designing a PLS for your parish, please contact CARA Associate Mary Ellen Fise at or at 443-416-1804.

View Format

Typical Survey Format

This is what a typical questionnaire looks like – about 100 questions with evaluations of aspects of parish life, needs assessments, and measures of demographic and religious characteristics.

View Process

Parish Life Survey Process

Depending on how quickly the parish can come to consensus on what to include in the survey, the entire process can take as little as 12 weeks.

View Elements

Seven Elements of Parish Life

These are the building blocks of what is measured in our CARA Parish Life Surveys.

View Design

Designing Your Parish Life Survey

Instructions for creating a survey that best fits the needs of your parish.

View Questions

Including Open-Ended Questions

Open-ended items are an opportunity for your parishioners to communicate what they most want you to know or consider.

View Survey

Why In-Pew Surveys Work Best

If you want to hear from all of those attending Masses and functions at the parish, not just those most involved, the survey needs to be administered in a way to maximize participation.

View Report

Sample Comparative Report

A sample of one of the two types of reports CARA offers.

View Services

Parish Life Survey Services and Prices

Descriptions of the two types of reports CARA offers as well as the charges for them and for other services available.

Next Step

What to Do After Report is Delivered

CARA Associate Mary Ellen Fise will work with your parish to ensure you receive the maximum benefit from your Parish Life Survey.