US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Is your parish a good friend of the family?

U.S. Catholic | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

When I wrote a column several years ago about our church's silence on wife and child abuse, I was stunned at the number of letters I received from ordinary faithful Catholics living in abusive families. One short letter summed up the many:

"My husband abuses us physically and verbally all week long, but is considered a pillar of the parish because he ushers, counts money, and receives Communion every Sunday. We've heard dozens of sermons on volunteering in the parish but not one on abuse as a sin. Does the church ever think of what the family's like outside the pew?"

What I learned from Father Dan

By Margaret Brennan | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
Many gay priests have served and continue to serve our church well. Let's not make them scapegoats for the sins of others.


IN OUR CHURCH AND IN THE MEDIA THERE HAS BEEN MUCH TALK about the recently released Vatican instruction on vocation discernment and gay seminarians. As a middle-aged, married woman and the mother of two teenage children who has worked for most of her professional life in ministry, why should I care to add to that debate? Shouldn't I just leave the commenting to a gay priest or seminarian?

For crying out loud, let's keep kids from disrupting Mass

By Joel Schorn | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

It happened again last Sunday, as it has happened other Sundays. A young couple arrives-usually late-with an infant and toddler in tow. After making a commotion in the back of the church, taking off coats, extracting the toddler from his buggy, and assembling an array of child-care accessories, they walk to a seat in front of the church-almost as in solemn procession-during one of the readings, thereby becoming the center of attention. For the duration of the Mass, the baby fusses, and the older child, unattended, runs back and forth up and down the aisle.

Wherever two or three thousand are gathered

By Robert J. McClory | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

The 1,200 people who packed Olivet Baptist Church on Chicago's South Side on a chilly Monday evening last December were assured by the event's organizers that the meeting would begin on the dot at 7:30 and last one hour and 15 minutes. They delivered on both counts. This was but one in a series of assemblies sponsored by United Power for Action and Justice, a massive citizens' organization created in 1997. The gathering-a racial rainbow from city and suburbs-included white collar, blue collar, and no collar.

Who moved my tabernacle? The ruckus over renovation

By Robert J. McClory | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

There are many issues about which Catholics disagree these days-birth control, divorce and remarriage, sex education in schools, the ordination of women, the rights of homosexuals, the silencing of theologians, to name a few. Yet all these hot buttons cool to relative insignificance compared with one issue capable of generating white hot incandescence among the faithful: church renovation!

Does it pay to work for the church?

By Robert J. McClory | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
Laypeople who make a living in the church love what they do--but don't always love the pay.


Picturing the perfect priest

By Heather Grennan Gary | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
Our readers have some strong ideas about how to build a better clergy--from training to ordination requirements to personal traits that make a priest great.


All you Priests, Seminanians, and those considering the ordained life out there may want to sit down, put your feet up, and take a deep breath before you read any further. The results of our special survey, "What do you want in a priest?" are in. More than 800 readers and other Catholics weighed in with their opinions, and many of their wish lists make the Easter Vigil look short in comparison.

How to build a better priest

By Father Robert Barron | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

"For too long we've had a preferential option for mediocrity in the priesthood," laments Father Robert Barron, assistant professor of systematic theology at Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein, Illinois. "Teilhard de Chardin said the priest calls down fire on the earth," says Barron. That's a far cry from "organizer of ministries," which is one of the dull-as-dishwater descriptions Barron remembers from his seminarian days. "Who's going to be lit on fire by a term like that?" he fumes.

It's fun to be Catholic

By Father Andrew Greeley | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

In its best moments Catholicism is the happiest of the major world religions. It is permeated by the reverent joy of Christmas night, the exultant joy of Easter morn, the gentle joy of First Communion, the satisfied joy of grammar school graduation, the hopeful joy of a funeral Mass, the confident joy of a May crowning. Catholicism is shaped by the happiness of hymns like "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel," "Adeste Fideles," the "Exultet," and "Bring Flowers of the Fairest."


Parishes with Pull

By Paul Wilkes | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

There are certainly many new approaches to spirituality and belief these days, but the parish remains the place most Catholics go to for sustenance. In fact, two thirds of all American Catholics are registered parishioners. While a varied lot, to be sure, they all are looking for-albeit in many different ways-a transcendent connection to God and guidance for their life's journey, a place where they will be at once nurtured and prodded. Catholics today seek not just to be on the rolls of an institution to fulfill their religious obligations; they want a spiritual home.