The 80/20 Rule and Traditional Catholicism

If you’re unfamiliar with the 80/20 Rule, also known as Pareto’s Principle, it’s the principle that a minority of producers is responsible for a majority of the results.

This all started in Vilfredo Pareto’s garden. Pareto, an Italian economist, noticed that 80% of the peas that he harvested came from roughly 20% of the pea pods. He went on to see if this ratio held in other areas and was most known for an 1896 study in which he noted that 20% of Italians owned 80% of the land.

The phrase “80/20 Rule” later came into popular use and most people understand the principle broadly. Where it might be of most practical use, however, is in relation to our role as Catholic laity.

If you have had the chance to travel around the Catholic world, as several of our owners have, you would have observed the 80/20 rule in relation to many Catholic Mass centers: 80% of the organizing, fundraising, cleaning, and errands are done by 20% of the population of the Mass center. In some places, the ratio might 90/10. Worse? 80% of that 20% in some locations are, by all measures, elderly (over the age of 60).

How can we help? As we said in our very first article here, do not wait to be asked by clergy. Be proactive. Ideas include:

  • Asking if there is help needed in cleaning the church or the priest’s residence
  • Finding out if the clergy is adequately fed
  • Finding out if the cars are maintained (this will always be cheaper if done by a capable volunteer)
  • Finding out if the clergy have rides to the airport
  • Inquiring about IT needs, like a website or a social media presence
  • Finding out what the financial position of the mass center is, i.e. are there any special causes for which fundraising can be done?
  • Creating fundraising events around the liturgical year, like bake sales around Easter time or scapular sales in July (month of the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel) or a parish raffle anytime of the year

It is very rare that a priest will tell someone that he has everything handled and don’t worry, he doesn’t need any help. Priests are not wanting for ideas or projects. Rather, they lack trusted lay volunteers who can actually execute, not just talk a good game.

The 80/20 Rule would seem to apply to salvation as well, as Our Lord often says things like, “narrow is the gate, and few there are who find it,” and “many are called, few are chosen.” Do you wish to be part of the 80% who enjoy the fruits of the 20% who actually pitch in and help during this great crisis of our time? Or do you wish to be part of the 20% who, without trumpets or fanfare, quietly do the necessary work to enable our priests to do what only they can do?