US Catholic Faith in Real Life

As lay ministries flourish, overworked ministers struggle with burnout

An increased demand for lay ministers means some are burning the candle at both ends.

By Teresa Coda |
Article Your Faith

Sue Antoinette, a retired youth minister in Cincinnati, spent her career being attentive to others’ needs. But she didn’t always receive the same in return. Because Antoinette worked with kids, she found that people tended to take her work less seriously. She even remembers a time when a priest patted her on the head.

To find the holy, minister across generations

How ministering with a parish's youngest and oldest members reveals the mystery of God.

By Jeffrey Essmann |
Article Lifestyle

When I first started going to my parish about four years ago one of the things I was looking for, other than a schedule of Masses in English (I live in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood in Upper Manhattan), was community—though I freely admit I hadn’t a clue what community meant. For me, as with so many 21st-century types, it was a fairly free-form concept, a vague desire (at times an ache) for some sense of connection, belonging, or relationship.

To rescue a sinking church, think mission not membership

The American Catholic Church is at a crossroads. Will it choose safety or discipleship?

By Jack Jezreel |
Article Your Faith

In Louisville, Kentucky, my hometown, there is a lifesaving parish called St. William. Every week, the single Sunday liturgy in the modest church building in an impoverished neighborhood is filled to capacity with a passionate mix of young and old; black, white, and brown; and religious and lay from dozens of zip codes. 

Is your parish sustainable?

Are Catholics taking seriously Pope Francis' call to combat climate change?

By The Editors |
Article Lifestyle

In May, 2015 Pope Francis released Laudato Si (On Care for Our Common Home). In his second encyclical, the pope urges Catholics to be mindful of their environmental impact and to actively work for environmental justice. He says of the importance of sustainability, “Many things have to change course, but it is we human beings above all who need to change.”

Have parishes taken this message seriously?

Image: Unsplash cc via Motah

Why aren’t bishops elected?

Ordinary Catholics once played an important role in the selection of bishops. What changed?

By J. Peter Nixon |
Article Your Faith

In 374 the bishop of Milan’s death sparked a deep conflict over the election of his successor. Fearing a threat to public order, the local governor, a man named Ambrose, appeared at the cathedral to appeal for calm. His eloquence so impressed those assembled that they began to chant his name and demanded he become bishop. Ambrose would go on to become a doctor of the church and the man who baptized St. Augustine. 

How Catholics pray is as diverse as the church itself

‘U.S. Catholic’ readers share how they pray.

By Shanna Johnson |
Article Your Faith

In 2018 Pew estimated that 50 million Catholic adults live in the United States. That’s a lot of Catholics—and we don’t all practice our faith the same way. From daily Mass to meditation and yoga, there are many ways to pray. U.S. Catholic surveyed readers to find out how they connect with God. 

Do flags belong in Catholic churches?

Nothing in the church’s liturgical books or canon law regulates the display of flags in churches.

By Joel Schorn |
Article Your Faith

After September 11, 2001 and the subsequent war on terrorism, the American flag became more visible than at perhaps any other time in U.S. history. From car antennas to window decals to lapel buttons to commercials, it seems the flag is now everywhere. But what about in Catholic churches?

Does the church have too many ministries?

The church's multitude of ministries hinders parish involvement, says this Catholic.

By Patricia Morrison |
Article Your Faith

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, the daily running of the typical parish was a fairly straightforward and Spartan process.

OK, lest I be thought an ossified curmudgeon, let me clarify that statement with some (albeit heavily abridged) church history: Almost as soon as the Holy Spirit propelled the church into the neighborhood, the organizational instincts of its members sprang into play.

Should you force your kids to go to Mass?

One parent reflects on why she doesn’t make Mass mandatory for her children.

By Claire Zulkey |
Article Your Faith

As a child I attended a K–8 Catholic school and went to church with my family every Sunday. For me, Mass was a thing to get through so that we could go home and have donuts for breakfast, what I thought of as the reward for going to church. 

My brain rarely connected with what I heard from the altar. Most weeks, as I sat in the pew, my mind wandered, and I played mental games to pass the time, such as discovering how many of the alphabet’s letters were in that week’s bulletin. (If it was all 26, I won.)