All posts tagged: parish life

“For the Life of the World”: Nourishing the Catholic Imagination for Liturgical Celebration

In the life of the Church, the liturgy, especially the Mass, is something of a lightning rod. Mass attendance (or lack thereof) is viewed as the basic litmus test for a parish’s vitality, and many programs and initiatives are undertaken at the parish and/or diocesan level for the purposes of either increasing the numbers of those who attend Mass regularly or making the Mass a more meaningful experience for those who already go. Why this emphasis on the liturgy, and particularly the Eucharistic celebration of Mass? At the surface level, it’s because the Mass is the central point of entry for most parishioners into the life of their church. If the Sunday Mass is poorly attended, it’s a safe bet that other parish programs like catechesis, youth and young adult ministry, and sacramental preparation are probably struggling as well. As goes the Sunday Mass, so goes the parish. At a deeper spiritual level, the Eucharistic liturgy is most often the central focus of parish ministry because it is in the liturgy that “the work of …

Embracing Parish Life: Step 4—Getting Involved

Editors’ Note: This is the final article in a series that seeks to make parish life more accessible to Catholic young adults. To learn more, see: Embracing Parish Life: Step 1—Choosing a Parish, Embracing Parish Life: Step 2—Registering at a Parish, and Embracing Parish Life: Step 3—Tithing. In thinking about writing this series for young adults on embracing parish life, I began by informally surveying young adult Catholics in my social networks. The 85 people who responded to my Google survey represent an atypical sampling of Millennials (my social networks are exceptionally Catholic-y): 80% attend Mass at least weekly, 80% are registered at their parishes, and 83.5% donate to their parishes at least occasionally. And, yet, only 55.3% of these respondents can definitively say that they feel like they are part of their parish communities. We go to Mass, we’re registered, we donate, but we don’t feel like we belong. What are we missing? In reviewing my [not particularly scientific] data, I found it interesting to look at the differences between those who are involved in their …

Embracing Parish Life: Step 3—Tithing

Editors’ Note: This is the third article in a series that seeks to make parish life more accessible to Catholic young adults. To learn more, see Embracing Parish Life: Step 1—Choosing a Parish and Embracing Parish Life: Step 2—Registering at a Parish. I love budgeting. It might be a slight obsession. My friends and coworkers can attest to my willingness to tell anyone and everyone how wonderful and important it is to budget. The first expense category on our monthly budget is “Giving,” which includes two separate items: giving to our local parish and giving to a charity or cause (we choose something different each month). I share this not to gloat but to share our strategy; if giving wasn’t the first thing on our budget, we’d easily find other ways to spend our money. In Deuteronomy, God tells the Israelites to give the “first fruits” of the harvest (Dt 26:2), or, in other words, to offer some of their crops to God before they take any for themselves. In God’s infinite wisdom, he knew that I could …

Embracing Parish Life: Step 2—Registering at a Parish

Editors’ Note: This is the second article in a series that seeks to make parish life more accessible to Catholic young adults. To learn more, see Embracing Parish Life: Step 1—Choosing a Parish. Throughout my 20s and into my early 30s there have been some “defining moments” that have made me feel like I’m slowly but surely reaching adulthood. Getting my car’s oil changed, purchasing and cooking a Thanksgiving turkey, and planting tulip bulbs and various other flowers in my yard are just a few of those moments. Registering at my parish is another. I found that something about registering at a parish and receiving my offertory envelopes in the mail each month made me feel more grown up. Maybe my “cradle Catholic” upbringing has something to do with it. Regardless, registering at a parish is an important step for any Catholic young adult. But, you might be asking yourself, I can go to Mass at any parish without registering, so what’s the difference? Why register? For starters, registering is helpful for the parish. Every …

Embracing Parish Life: Step 1—Choosing a Parish

Transitioning from a worshipping community at a college or university to a worshipping community at a “regular” parish can be challenging, both for recent graduates and for those of us who have been out of school for several years. This series seeks to make parish life more accessible to Catholic young adults, because belonging to a diverse community of believers and learning to be engaged in the care of that community are incredible opportunities to encounter God’s love and grace. Choosing a parish can be tricky. In the last year, our parish has experienced a few clergy transitions, which have, as you might imagine, affected the “feel” of the parish. Now, my husband and I are deciding whether to stick it out and reinvest in our current parish or to take a look at some other parishes in our area that are closer to our home. Like many new college graduates and transitioning young adults, we’re in the process of choosing a parish. Here are four questions we’re considering as we decide which parish to …

The New Evangelization in Suburban Detroit: A Sociological Case Study

In response to Pope John Paul II’s call for Catholics to implement a New Evangelization (NE) in order to revitalize the Church, parishes in the Archdiocese of Detroit have been attempting to implement the NE through the day-to-day efforts of parishioners, lay leaders, and pastors. In particular, beginning around 1992 and gaining momentum from around 2005 to at least 2012, evangelization committees increasingly have been formed in Detroit parishes as part of the broad push of the Catholic Church’s efforts at the NE. Among church leaders, professionals, and academics, it is often taken as common sense that if new ideas or policies need to be implemented, then they should set about the task of informing people through educational efforts. Yet field observations and the theorists I draw upon point in another direction. Rather than educational or implementation efforts guided primarily by rational communication and bureaucratic procedures, I observed affective/emotional communication and practices as more accessible, more widely shared, and as a more effective means of evangelization. In the case study that follows, participant observational methods …