US Catholic Faith in Real Life

How to stop embezzlement in your parish

Parishes should adopt transparent and accountable financial processes.

By Charles Zech | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
Article Lifestyle

Catholic parishes and dioceses in the United States face a financial scandal: Embezzlement occurs at an alarming frequency.

In 2007 my Villanova University colleague Robert West and I conducted a study of diocesan financial practices, including incidences of embezzlement. We surveyed diocesan chief financial officers and found that 85 percent of reporting dioceses had experienced embezzlement within the last few years, many more than once.

What is official liturgy?

Liturgy often changes to meet the needs of the faithful, says Father Mark Francis. Nowhere is this more evident than during the Christmas season.

By A U.S. Catholic interview | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
Article Your Faith

For many Catholics, the word liturgy brings to mind processionals with incense and a crucifix, Eucharistic prayers, or the Communion Rite. Vestments, incense, and music may be floating around in our mental pictures as well. But what about other kinds of faith practices? Eucharistic adoration or devotions to patron saints? The blessing of the animals on the feast of St. Francis or the celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe? Are these celebrations also liturgical? Or are they merely popular reflections of our faith based on each parish’s individual nationality and culture?

We need coffee hour now more than ever

Catholics are responsible for building a community within our church. Parish coffee hour is the ideal place to start.

By Molly Jo Rose | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
Article Your Faith

We move around a lot. Academics are sort of like military families in that way. Since our marriage began in 2008, my husband and I have attended six Catholic churches. Six times we have pushed ourselves into a community—often tightly knit—that didn’t always have room for us. Of those six church communities, exactly two of them regularly offered coffee and doughnuts after Mass. I am certain of this number. My son, who judges a church on its willingness to extend him the courtesy of a post-Mass doughnut, is sure of this number.

Pre-Cana needs an upgrade

Marriage prep programs should accommodate couples who don’t fit the traditional ideal.

By Annarose F. Steinke | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
Article Lifestyle

A few weeks before my husband and I started a Catholic marriage prep program—what most people refer to as Pre-Cana—I started chemotherapy for Hodgkin’s lymphoma. My diagnosis shot us into a galaxy worlds beyond our Pre-Cana homework. While fielding numerous questions from canned worksheets about our future roles as parents (including the year we expected our first child to be born), we’d pore over the latest studies of Stage I Hodgkin’s treatments and fertility. As a result, our Pre-Cana experience was not the most enjoyable one. 

Hats in church: A heady issue

Should women wear hats to church or not? Apparently the question still isn't settled in the minds of some Catholics.

By Brian Baker | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
Article Your Faith

When I started doing research for the essay I wrote in the May 2016 issue of U.S. Catholic, I was surprised to find out that the church never issued an edict on head covering until the 20th century. It wasn’t until 1917 that the very first Code of Canon Law introduced requirements—and even then in the Latin Rite only. Canon 1262 stated that women must wear “chapel veils” or other head coverings.

We're already here

Even in this modern age, the church is slow to acknowledge women’s abundant contributions to parish life.

By Jessica Mesman Griffith | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
Article Your Faith

On January 21st of this year, the Vatican announced a change to the Roman Missal, per the request of Pope Francis, that women would no longer officially be excluded from the foot washing ritual during Holy Thursday Mass.

A great many Catholics (myself included) responded, “Huh?”

I had no idea women weren’t invited.

Urban renewal?

Urban renewal was meant to usher in new, modern cities. But what were once vibrant Catholic communities are now parking lots and office parks.

By Kim Etingoff | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
Article Justice

In 1950s New Haven, Connecticut, the streets of the Oak Street neighborhood are filled with the fragrant smell of tomato sauce. Church bells ring, calling parishioners to Mass. The streets are lined with dozens of small grocery stores, drug stores, and cafés. It’s a working-class, dynamic community, and it feels like home.

Today, it’s impossible to find that scene in Oak Street. Instead, the neighborhood is home to parking lots, empty streets, and office buildings.

Stop celebrating the sacrament of departure

How can we change our approach to confirmation so that teens stop seeing the sacrament as a “graduation” from faith?

By Father Mark R. Francis, C.S.V. | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
Article Your Faith

There’s an old joke about two pastors discussing the problem of bats in the attic of their respective churches. “I’ve tried everything,” Father Brown complains to Father Smith. “Exterminators, electric wires, traps, poison—everything—but I just can’t seem to get rid of them.” Father Smith smiles and says, “Don’t worry. I have found the perfect solution. I had the bishop come to confirm the bats . . . and they never returned!”

The exodus hits home

Is our Catholic parish structure inadequate for supporting the needs of adult Christians?

By Father Bryan Massingale | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
Article Your Faith

Recently, my sister celebrated her “re-baptism” as a member of the American Baptist church. Like me and her other siblings, she was baptized and confirmed Catholic, graduated from a Catholic grade school, and attended Catholic high school religious education. As an adult, she was a very active member of her parish. Over the years, she was involved in youth ministry, retreat leadership, and liturgy planning. She also belonged to a women’s spirituality circle, meeting regularly with other middle-aged adults seeking to grow in their understanding of faith and commitment to discipleship.

Are there rules for decorating the church during the holidays?

Trying to decorate the church for Advent? Two church documents offer guidance on the subject of church decor.

By Victoria M. Tufano | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
Article Your Faith

There are surprisingly few official rules about decorating churches, much to the chagrin of those who have been crowded out by Christmas poinsettias or engulfed by Easter lilies. At times, admittedly, the altar looks like it's been attacked by a rioting mob of florists.