ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – For the first time in twenty years, St. Louis is hosting the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops semi-annual general assembly.
It's a chance for St. Louis to show the country's 250 bishops its catholic culture.
St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson sat down for an exclusive interview with FOX2's Vic Faust.
Archbishop Carlson is thrilled to have this meeting in his backyard; especially, when he sees the St. Louis Archdiocese succeeding.
Wednesday June 6th marks six years in St. Louis for Archbishop Carlson. We haven't heard much from him since a little controversy involving a deposition he gave last summer about an abuse case from 70's against another priest but he and his team and the local catholic community have been preparing for this event.
He says "it is good for them to be able to show off what they do day in day out. The church is in very good shape in St. Louis.
While every Christian faith in our country has taken hits with a variety of allegations and a drop off in attendance, the archbishop sees promise in St. Louis, citing 37,000 people coming back to the faith in the last three years, thanks in part to a program called "alive in Christ" right now there are about 550,000 Catholics in the diocese.
Two things Carlson sees as major strengths are the catholic schools and vocations
"Were the largest school district in state of Missouri..40,000 kids 26 catholic high schools, 115 grade schools
About 95% of our vocations come from St. Louis great catholic high schools."
There are 38 dioceses similar in size but St. Louis has the number one priest to people ratio in the country.
He says they also just launched a 100 million dollar campaign into improve scholarships, improve facilities and have ambassadors in high schools.
You can also count Archbishop Carlson a fan of Pope Francis and the way he teaches catholic doctrine
He says "rules are the same.. But it is a new way of getting out teaching, you can give out all rules or talk about good news, the Holy Father is talking about good news.
Archbishop Carlson says St. Louis is called the "Rome of the West" because people here love the faith, its part of the culture, and oh yeah, St. Louis also has some great Italian food.