US Catholic Faith in Real Life

The communion conundrum for Catholics with celiac disease

Catholics with celiac disease struggle for inclusion in the church's one body.

By Jean P. Kelly | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
Article Your Faith

My three teenage daughters and I sat on jackets on the sidewalk. We were part of a much larger human jigsaw puzzle, one that morphed every few minutes from sitting to standing to kneeling on the sandpapery concrete in front of a Subway in downtown Philadelphia. 

We couldn’t see the altar except on the jumbotron, but no one hesitated saying the response: “Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” 

Not another youth center: A parish devotes resources to the senior community

The Cathedral of St. Peter used affordable senior housing to meet the needs of the marginalized right on their block.

By Jay Bouchard | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
Article Justice

Sixty-nine-year-old John Eckford is always ready to welcome a guest to his one-bedroom apartment. On the table next to his front door are displayed two small bottles of London dry gin and strawberry daiquiri mix. Eckford describes his home as “a bachelor pad.” It features two white leather couches, a flat screen television, and matching red cookware.

Would you leave your parish because of the priest?

Parishioners and their priest must work together to create a vibrant parish community.

By Rosie McCarty | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
Article Your Faith

When I was growing up, my family belonged to a vibrant, close-knit parish community. It was a parish with a lot of history—my dad grew up there, and many other families had also been members for decades. My siblings and I were baptized there, made our first communions there, and dutifully attended Sunday school there week after week. 

Crying babies have a place in the pew

How can parents pass on the faith if they’re sequestered during Mass?

By Rachel Mans McKenny | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
Article Your Faith

The host is raised upstairs, at least I imagine it is. I’m not in the sanctuary. Instead, I’m in a basement room, where the wires in the ceiling lead to a speaker box in the corner of the room. From that box sounds the blessing of the simple bread and the feast of the body and blood of Christ. The boy sitting at the table below the box holds out his Lego sculpture, and his mother says, “Isaiah, are you showing her your dinosaur?”

For Catholics with special needs, a religious education that includes

The church is a place where all are welcomed and where everyone belongs.

By Jennifer Szweda Jordan | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
Article Your Faith

When Wendy Zimmerman wanted to join her boyfriend, Eddie Knack, for Sunday Mass, it took some doing.

Zimmerman has an intellectual disability that precludes her from driving and living fully independently. So over four weeks, a staff member from Zimmerman’s group home attended church with the couple. Each time the worker explained to Zimmerman where to exit in an emergency and where the restroom is so that Zimmerman would feel safe and comfortable. 

Now Zimmerman and Knack attend Mass on their own. They sit right up front.

How (and how not) to address racism in the church

A pastoral letter from the U.S. bishops won’t solve racism. Becoming an intercultural church might.

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

In 1979 the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a pastoral letter on racism entitled “Brothers and Sisters to Us.” It was significant because it was the strongest statement by the U.S. bishops declaring racism a sin. However, a problematic title to this otherwise dynamic document seemed to perpetuate exactly this racial “us” versus “them” the document itself was trying to alleviate. Just who is “us”? critics asked, pointing out how the title implied that the American church’s membership and leadership was of European descent.

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.