5 ways to take the dread out of religious ed
It was a typical Wednesday evening at the Parish Church. Gloria Jackson was preparing to meet her sixth-grade class for religious ed. This was the third class session in Gloria's short career as a volunteer catechist. Hers was a large, suburban parish and, because there were so many volunteer catechists, only those with problems received attention from the parish staff. Gloria was pretty much on her own with the sixth grade.
Big gifts come in small prayer groups
With a wink and a smile and a sueeze of the hand. Gilda Rodriguez naturally knows what question to ask, what personal thing to say to each person she greets. That's no small task in a group of 50 or so Spanish-speaking parishioners gathered at St. Cyril of Alexandria Parish in Tucson, Arizona. As they do every Thursday for two hours, the men, women, and even teenagers come together to pray, sing, and share the Word of God with each other.
Can the church get in step with stepfamilies?
Bette Hausman and Don Storck are in love and want to spend the rest of their lives together. If only it were as easy as scheduling the priest and ordering the cake for the Happily Ever After to begin. Storck prefers to complete his conversion to Catholicism first. The Pennsylvania couple must also wait for Storck's annulment to finalize. While they care for spiritual matters, Hausman's children make room for Storck inside their home.
Has the church been in the family's way?
The development of Christian family values is a central aspect of Christianity's ongoing self-interpretation in the 20th century. That development is linked to the growth of lay ministries, to the continuing reconciliation between the long-opposed body and the soul, and to the Vatican II shift toward seeing the church as being in service to the world (rather than the reverse). All of these changes are simultaneous, gradual, and interrelated.
Is your parish a good friend of the family?
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
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
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
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
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!