Parishes need to look beyond CCD and focus on faith formation for adults.
The very first Mass I attended scared and confused me so much I’m still surprised I went back. I was about 16 and it was a LifeTeen Mass at the local cathedral: lights dimmed, incense, and a lot of standing, kneeling, and responsive prayers that were foreign to my unchurched self. Yet the mystery and reverence surrounding the Eucharist at that Mass later combined with the irresistible witness of liberation theology, and I found myself a Catholic convert as a sophomore in college. I could relate to St. Paul falling from his horse, as I too abandoned all previously held religious beliefs.
The benefits of parish-hopping.
My husband, John, and I are newly married and also new residents of a smallish town in central Connecticut, where we work in adjoining dioceses. During this time of limbo, we frequently find ourselves at a different parish each weekend for various reasons from professional to personal. It’s a different lifestyle than we are used to, but we rejoice in the opportunity to see the best of what is happening in communities large and small, progressive and traditional, urban, suburban, and rural.
Churches in Washington State are building real connections with prison inmates.
Sam Middleton had already been in prison for 26 years when the letters started coming. One day he had a pile of five unopened envelopes, addressed to him from people he had never met. Each return address was from a family in his hometown of Bay View, Washington.
Lay-led celebrations are the lifeblood of the church.
It’s so often the women, it seems. Since that first Sunday morning when the myrrh-bearing women made their way to the tomb, it’s so often the women. The ones who teach catechism to the children, prepare the casseroles for the funeral luncheons, coordinate volunteers for the homeless shelter, lead the decades of the rosary before Mass, gather on Monday mornings to count the collection from the weekend liturgies, visit those who are shut in to bring the Eucharist and companionship.
Are parishes answering Pope Francis' call to care for our common home?
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.” U.S. Catholic surveyed readers to find out how parishes across the United States are answering this call.
An increased demand for lay ministers means some are burning the candle at both ends.
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.
How ministering with a parish's youngest and oldest members reveals the mystery of God.
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.
The American Catholic Church is at a crossroads. Will it choose safety or discipleship?
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.
Ordinary Catholics once played an important role in the selection of bishops. What changed?
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.
‘U.S. Catholic’ readers share how they pray.
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.