ZEBULON, NC (Catholic Online) – Childhood sweethearts, my husband and I married for the first time at Sts. Peter and Paul Russian Orthodox Church. After the beautiful, two hour long Liturgy complete with crowns and chanting, my mother remarked there was no doubt we had indeed been united by this sacrament.
Unlike some modern weddings which focus on flowery arrangements, self-appointed roles and individually crafted vows, ours followed tradition with its focus on the sacramental and not so much the selves. Of course, at 21 and 23 we’d have a lot to learn about life and marriage in the years to come.
Having married outside of the Catholic Church, our pre-cana consisted only of a few short meetings with the priest, who was to marry us. I remember only his encouraging me to convert and little else. We missed the boat, so to speak, on so many crucial lessons, but thankfully God always has a back-up plan.
Totally unaware of the Churches’ teachings, we contracepted early on until the time when we deemed ourselves ready to welcome another family member. What joy it seemed then to ask God to create a new life on our terms, in our time.
However, after the death of our firstborn we began to realize that life was far more fragile than we’d considered and our well-crafted life plans disappeared with his heartbeat. We desperately wanted more children and so I suppose our hearts were ready soil for God to plant a different kind of seed.
Browsing through a bookstore’s discount bin at the mall, I happened upon a thick book that grabbed my attention. Fertility awareness was the topic, and seeing as our attempts to conceive had taken much time and effort the first time around, it seemed the perfect read. I gobbled up that book and eagerly applied the newly found knowledge about my basal body temperature, mucus and cervical changes.
Fast forward six years and many changes later, my husband converted to the Catholic faith and we married “for the second time” in a little chapel at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. In truth, standing there surrounded by a few friends and flanked by a toddler and a baby, we had our marriage, which was already considered valid by the Catholic Church, blessed.
While our “first” marriage had united us together in that permanent bond of marriage, endowing us with the gifts to live out that vocation, I believe that “second” marriage made us evermore conscious of our need to rely on Divine Providence and our responsibility to actively grow together in our faith.
Like too many other young people, after our wedding ceremony we had created all too many excuses for sleeping in on Sundays and relegated Christ to Easter and Christmas those first few years. Thankfully, once our family size increased, so too did our knowledge of the necessity for faith, but still missing were those hard truths.
Though my eyes had been opened to the beauty of my fertility, unfortunately that initial method of fertility awareness was void of theological truth and thus allowed for contraceptive behaviors and devices during the fertile phase of the cycle. It also didn’t challenge us to include God in our family planning, though at the time we felt an internal stirring to openness. Thankfully, our Lord is patient and so He nurtured that sapling and in time He would redirect its growth.
By the time we were celebrating our tenth anniversary, we’d been blessed with one son through adoption, two more birth sons, and our first daughter had entered the world. By all accounts our cup was overflowing, but in reality we were standing on the precipice of divorce, contemplating the looming pit of broken vows and broken dreams.
Well-meaning friends and family worried about our children and about divorced parents trying to raise them apart, so they encouraged us to protect ourselves. Protect ourselves, especially, against the possibility of anymore conceptions. Really, with four children already, many people couldn’t understand why we’d ever want more. Their advice seemed reasonable, so we took it and reverted back to contracepting during the fertile time.
We chose to work through our trial with a Christian therapist, who instructed us in reading the Bible. Little did this faithful, Protestant therapist know, not only was he helping to heal our broken hearts, but he was leading us deeper into our Catholic faith. For the first time, we began reading God’s Word separately and together. A deeper and more intimate relationship developed between the three of us (Christ, my husband and me) and we developed a thirst for more.
Truthfully, I knew something wasn’t right in our contracepting, but I couldn’t quite figure out what that “something” was. When I’d contracepted in our early years, I …
Holy Post is intended as a forum for everyone who has an interest in today’s great religious issues. You will find a range of commentary on religion and society, internecine battles within faith and the meaning and purpose of religious beliefs and observance. All views are welcome and being religious is not a requirement to join in the comment sections.
If you would like write a story for us, please drop a line to editor Charles Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 416-383-2472 to let him know what you have in mind.
Also, feel free to send him comments and suggestions.
On Sunday, the liturgy of the Catholic Mass will include the often-quoted-out-of-context argument against same-sex marriage: “God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”
Catholics, would you please read the entire story? People were quizzing Jesus about divorce, not marriage. One huge argument against same-sex marriage is that it will destroy the family. What has divorce done for the family? If we really want a theocracy, how about saving our families with a constitutional amendment against divorce, — or, at the very least, multiple marriages?
Let’s allow just one shot at marriage. Choose carefully. If you can’t make it work, you’re done.
On the other hand, let’s look at economics. Divorce and remarriage provide jobs — lawyers, social workers, law enforcement, counselors, wedding planners, caterers, event centers. Even the Catholic church has cashed in on annulments.
VATICAN CITY (RNS) Fifty years after the Second Vatican Council revolutionized life inside the Roman Catholic Church, hundreds of bishops from around the world are gathered in Rome to confront an external threat: a mounting tide of secularization.
The Synod of Bishops on “New Evangelization” brings together 262 top church leaders for a three-week summit at the Vatican, joined by lay experts and representatives of other Christian groups.
In a wide-ranging speech aimed at setting the tone for the bishops’ discussion, Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl called on Christians to “overcome the syndrome of embarrassment” about their faith with a more assertive offense against the “tsunami of secular influence” that is sweeping away “marriage, family, the concept of the common good and objective right and wrong.”
Wuerl has been appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as the “relator general” of the synod, with the key task of summing up the main points of the bishops’ discussions.
The synod is timed to coincide with the anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), which not only transformed the laity and liturgy of the church, but also reoriented the church’s engagement with the modern world.
Benedict, who attended Vatican II as a young theologian, has called for a “Year of Faith” to mark the anniversary. He will celebrate a solemn Mass with the few surviving council fathers on Thursday (Oct. 11).
While the council marked a moment of renewal and enthusiasm for the church, Wuerl said it was followed by decades of poor teaching and substandard worship — “aberrational liturgical practice,” he called it — that made “entire generations” of Catholics incapable of transmitting the faith to their children and to society at large, ushering in today’s secularized society.
Symptoms of this trend are a decline of faith and a shrinking number of Catholics in the Western world but also in traditional Catholic strongholds such as Latin America. Church marriages are decreasing, too, while divorce is all but mainstream.
Catholic leaders in the U.S. and Europe are also worried about a perceived rise of “aggressive” secularism, which they say wants to curtail the church’s role in the public sphere and reduce faith to a private exercise.
But in an off-the-cuff meditation in front of the gathered bishops on Monday morning, Benedict was careful to frame the debate as a positive proposal of the church’s timeless doctrine to contemporary society.
“Our role in the new evangelization is to cooperate with God,” he said. “We can only let people know what God has done.”
“New evangelization means announcing the faith to those regions that have been Christian for centuries but are now swept by the winds of secularism and religious indifference,” said professor Ilaria Morali of the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.
She stressed that while it is important for the church to harness modern technology to “spread the good news,” the essential part of new evangelization is “revitalizing” the church itself, letting Christians rediscover the “joy” and the “responsibility” that comes from faith.
Also on HuffPost:
By Linda Cunha-Ricchio
The Institute for Leadership in Ministry welcomed the Class of 2015 for the new academic year on September 5. The incoming 83 members of the combined English and Spanish classes come from 28 parishes in the Diocese of San Jose.
The Institute reflects the rich tapestry of cultures which make up the local Church of San Jose. Cultures and traditions represented include Chinese, Filipino, Hispanic, Indonesian, Vietnamese, and American.
Coming together as the ILM community, students learn from one another, minister to each other and are formed as leaders who will work together in collaboration to serve the diocese.
The Institute is a three-year program which provides formation in Catholic theology, pastoral ministry and spirituality; and training in leadership.
Candidates for the Institute are recommended by their pastors and are typically already involved in pastoral ministry having demonstrated a potential for leadership. They also must be willing to make a personal commitment to their own formation.
Over 725 men and women have graduated from the Institute and returned to serve in their parishes in many areas of ministry including administration, faith formation, liturgy, and pastoral care.
Graduates have also served the greater community through their work in detention ministry, immigration reform, as well as other areas of social ministry. The Institute has trained individuals for leadership in the Diocese of San Jose since 1997.
This is part one of a series.
Although the term “new monasticism” has been floating around ether of the contemplative world for several decades, it has remained difficult to define.
Catholic incarnations of the new monasticism movement have sprung up since the 1970s in Europe and the United States. Some have come in the form of third-order or lay associates programs in religious communities.
More recently, the term has been adopted by evangelical young adults who embrace a radical commitment to social justice, often living in communities based in some of the poorest neighborhoods in the country. A visit to newmonasticism.org takes one to the virtual base camp of this version of movement, including their fundamental values, their “School of Conversion” and an introduction to their communities across the nations.
It also offers a link to the evangelical new monasticism’s highly popular books, including their recent Common Prayer: A liturgy for ordinary radicals. The text is remarkable in that it was produced by young men who grew up in a Christian denomination that is not only allergic to liturgy; it is adverse to any prayer that isn’t spontaneous (with the exception of the Lord’s Prayer, of course). Tradition seems to be speaking to even the most nontraditional of Christians.
This form of the new monasticism is by far the most visible, thanks in part to the support and promotion they receive from rock star progressive evangelicals like Jim Wallis and Tony Campolo. But true to its evangelical roots, this new monasticism is also rigorously Christian, less oriented toward the mystical qualities of traditional monasticism and, it appears, not inclined to engage with the spirituality of non-Christian contemplatives.
An emerging interpretation of new monasticism, however, promises to broaden the movement in ways that might welcome larger numbers of young adults who find themselves drawn to the spiritual practices of multiple faith traditions. In the recently published “New Monasticism: An Interspiritual Manifesto for Contemplative Life in the 21st Century,” Adam Bucko and Rory McEntee explore their vision of what the “new monk” might look like, what it means to be a monk in the world, and the crucial role elders play in mentoring younger contemplatives.
In the manifesto, Bucko and McEntee, both 30-somethings who were raised Catholic, bring their connections to interfaith spirituality to the milieu of new monasticism. Both have been inspired deeply by Catholic mystics whose spiritual lives drew from the contemplative wisdom of the East and the West, like Thomas Merton, Fr. Bede Griffiths and Fr. Henri Le Saux (also known as Abhishiktananda).
Rather than calling their vision “interfaith,” though, they use the word “interspiritual,” a term coined by McEntee’s mentor, Br. Wayne Teasdale.
“Brother Wayne believed that the world’s wisdom traditions were moving beyond the stage of dialoguing about one another’s beliefs and rituals,” McEntee told me in a phone interview from his home in Los Angeles. “Interspiritual means that once that deep respect and trust has been established among different spiritualities, we can actually move to the next level of sharing our mystical realizations with one another on an experimental level.”
McEntee first met Teasdale through a tutorial on Thomas Merton that he was taking as an undergraduate at Lake Forest College in Illinois. He and Teasdale crossed paths again at the 1999 Parliament of the World’s Religions.
“Every evening of the conference, Brother Wayne would invite a group to join him for conversation and White Russian cocktails,” McEntee laughs. “We would be there for hours. It was the start of my first spiritual mentorship.”
Teasdale, who died in 2004, invited McEntee to stay at the monastery in Chicago where he lived.
“I worked with Brother Wayne on the next Parliament. From that point, my whole focus has been the spiritual path,” he said.
In addition to being a mathematics teacher in Los Angeles, Rory is also currently the administrator for the Snowmass InterSpiritual Dialgoue, formerly known as The Snowmass Conference, founded in 1984 by Fr. Thomas Keating.
In addition to the mystics of the 20th century, McEntee and Bucko are equally inspired by contemplatives in action like Dorothy Day, Mother Teresa and Catherine Doherty. Bucko’s first exposure to the prophetic work of justice came as a child in Bialystok, Poland.
“I still have memories of activist priests being killed by the totalitarian regime,” Bucko said. “They understood that saying yes to God requires saying no to injustice.”
Bucko immigrated to the U.S. in his late teens and studied theology and philosophy at St. John’s University in Jamaica, Queens. (Full disclosure: Bucko and I were actually friends and fellow religious studies majors at St. John’s in the late 1990s.) After graduation, he moved to India to live in Sewa Ashram, an “experimental community of the poor,” Bucko says, “where prayer and activism met beautifully in sacred service offered to victims of AIDS, abuse and social estrangement.”
Although the level of illness and poverty he witnessed was unthinkable to most American imaginations, he was transformed by the high-risk outreach work he performed alongside the ashram’s leaders, many of whom were Hindu. But perhaps the greatest impact on his consciousness came one day when members of an American Evangelical Church, who had largely funded the ashram, shut down the center because the staff was not trying to convert its guests into “confessing Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.”
“People were practically being resurrected back to life by the care they were given by people at the ashram, and yet it wasn’t good enough for this church,” Bucko said. When he eventually left India, Bucko brought the wisdom and passion that he learned to the U.S., where, for years, he worked in the streets trying to rescue homeless and runaway youth.
In 2004, Bucko and his friend Taz Tagore cofounded the Reciprocity Foundation, an award-winning nonprofit that empowers New York City’s homeless and at-risk youth to break the cycle of poverty. Many of Reciprocity’s students have run away from home, so Bucko often finds them by wandering Manhattan’s Port Authority bus terminal in the wee hours of the morning.
“As soon as they step off the bus, there is a chain of pimps waiting for them, ready to promise them ‘the future that they dream of,’ ” he said. “Our job is to catch the kids before they become victims of this never-ending cycle of horror, abuse and prostitution.”
In addition to helping them find shelter, teaching them life skills and trying to connect them with internships and employers, the staff of Reciprocity also guides them in being in touch with their spirits. There is a teacher who leads them in yoga classes, and some eventually go on retreats at a Buddhist monastery in upstate New York.
“But we don’t start with Buddhism or yoga,” Bucko said. Instead, they employ a “whole person” approach to each student.
“We ask them bring all aspects of themselves into the room,” he said. “Their fears, their hurts, their beauty. We sit with it together and hold it and are present to it. And if we sit long enough, something will emerge. It really is a contemplative process, but it is a more experiential approach to spiritual direction and spiritual friendship.”
Bucko and McEntee’s paths crossed in 2010 at a meeting of another emerging group known as the Young Contemplative Alliance.
“Adam was a leader in the group, and I learned about it at the last minute,” McEntee said. “We even didn’t get to talk until everyone was leaving the meeting. We realized how similar our journeys had been and how we both sensed the same movements of the spirit in the new generation of contemplatives. It was the start of this two year dialogue we’ve been having.”
A shared retreat at the Sky Farm Hermitage in the hills of Sonoma, Calif., planted the seeds that would grow into the manifesto.
“While we were there, Sr. Michaela Terrio, one of Sky Farm’s hermits in residence, gave us an article she had recently read about being monks in the world,” McEntee said. Terrio began her religious life as a Cloistered Poor Clare Nun for 17 years and, after a trip to India, became a student of Fr. Bede Griffiths.
The article, which drew heavily on Fr. Ramon Pannikar’s book Blessed Simplicity, gave McEntee and Bucko a framework for imaging how young adults can embody an interspiritual new monasticism in a postmodern world.
“If you look at the demographics, the number of young people who identify as ‘spiritual but not religious’ is quite high,” McEntee said.
Both he and Bucko were concerned that some young people only know the spirituality offered by New Age thought.
“Adam and I share the belief that the real contemplative depth is in the traditions. Depth and wisdom are often lost in the translation to New Age spirituality, which can be shallow in certain areas,” McEntee said.
“The manifesto is a response to something we’ve been feeling in our hearts for a long time,” Bucko said. And apparently it is resonating with the hearts of both old and young contemplatives alike. The manifesto has “gone viral” since the pair began emailing it to friends and colleagues during the summer.
“We would send it one friend, only to find out she had already received it from two other sources,” Bucko said.
Much as Bucko and McEntee want to live and serve in the world, they are aware that growing secularism, individuality and the decline of interest in institutional religion and religious communities threaten to overshadow, if not extinguish altogether, the richness that Eastern and Western spiritual traditions can continue to offer humanity.
“Our generation has a great responsibility,” Bucko said. “If we don’t figure out how to take the best of our traditions and pass them on, they may not be there in the future.”
Part two of this series, which will offer an in-depth look at the manifesto, will appear next Monday.
[Jamie L. Manson received her Master of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School, where she studied Catholic theology and sexual ethics. Her columns for NCR earned her a first prize Catholic Press Association award for Best Column/Regular Commentary in 2010.]
Editor’s note: We can send you an email alert every time Jamie Manson’s column, “Grace on the Margins,” is posted to NCRonline.org. Go to this page and follow directions: Email alert sign-up. If you already receive email alerts from us, click on the “update my profile” button to add “Grace on the Margins” to your list.
Every year the Loyola community gathers for the Mass of the Holy Spirit, which is the university’s biggest spiritual event of the year according to Ken Weber, associate chaplain for Liturgy and Music.
“We celebrate this Mass every year because we believe that every year offers new opportunities for growth and for glorifying God,” said Weber in an email. “From the addition of new faculty, staff, and students, to new physical enhancements to our campus, to new opportunities to serve the city of New Orleans and beyond, the beginning of each academic year calls forth from us a desire to renew our relationship with God through the grace of the Holy Spirit.”
Mass of the Holy Spirit is an annual Catholic mass that celebrates people, particularly students and law officials, seeking guidance from the Holy Spirit. Churches across the nation honor this tradition and Loyola is among those who honor this tradition.
“This Mass is unique among all
other Masses in that it is celebrated specifically to invoke the power of the Holy Spirit to guide and support all the efforts of the university community to fulfill the university’s mission throughout the year,” said Weber.
Weber also said that the mass is “an expression of the joyful and unifying nature of the Holy Spirit.”
According to Weber, there will be a lot of unique things included in this mass. The opening procession will include student athletes carrying 200 yards of red fabric and students, faculty, and staff will process with their respective college banners.
“The entire university community is invited to come together to pray for the guidance and aid of the Holy Spirit as the new academic year begins. As a Jesuit, Catholic university, we celebrate God’s gift of God’s creative, sustaining Spirit which graces us with every opportunity to grow intellectually, socially, morally, and spiritually,” said Weber. “Students are invited to celebrate this mass with each other because doing so articultes their unique identity as part of a Jesuit university.”
Mass with each other because doing so articulates their unique identity as part of a Jesuit university.”
Mass will be held Thursday, Sept. 13 at 11:30 a.m. in Holy Name of Jesus, and all 11 a.m. classes will be canceled so faculty, staff, and students can attend.
Hannah Iannazzo can be reached at email@example.com
The Irish Times – Tuesday, September 4, 2012
RITE REASON: One of Maupassant’s short stories casts the celebration of Mass in a revealing light, writes
DR KEVIN WILLIAMS
SINCE THE International Eucharistic Congress last June, several contributors to this column have written of the Catholic Church’s rich theology of the Eucharist.
One of the most compelling avenues to an understanding of the impact of the Eucharist on the lives of individuals is through responding to the treatment of the sacrament in great works of literature.
Imaginative literature has the potential to reveal insights that illuminate our ways of looking at the world.
An example of a text of such a character is a famous story entitled La Maison Tellier (The Tellier Establishment) by Guy de Maupassant. The story deals with the First Communion Mass for a small child in a remote Norman village. The girl’s aunt comes to the event with a group of her friends from the town of Fécamp. The mood is set for the event by a description of the choir singing before the Mass. The priest says the preparatory prayers and then the Kyrie Eleison is sung and “a strong emotion, an anxious anticipation, the approach of the ineffable mystery clutched at the hearts” of the congregation.
As the liturgy continues, the priest stammers “very softly the mysterious and supreme words”.
It is then that one of the aunt’s friends starts to weep as she remembers the innocent days of her own First Communion. These tears are “contagious” and soon affect the “whole gathering”, which also begins to sob. As the priest transubstantiates the “body of God”, a “devote awe” seizes the communicants.
Then it comes to the part of the liturgy where the children “shivering with a divine fever” approach “the holy table” to receive for the first time “the sacred host, the body of Christ, the redemption of the world”.
This prompts the eruption of “a sort of craze . . . the rumbling of a delirious crowd, a storm of sobs with stifled cries”. The priest is so affected by emotion that when he finishes distributing Communion, his legs start to give out under him and, after he has drunk “the blood of his Lord”, he throws “himself down in an act of frantic thanksgiving”.
As the people calm down, the priest moves between the rows of communicants, who are lost in “ecstasies of happiness”, and then proceeds to address the congregation. “My dear brothers, my dear sisters, my children,” he announces, “I thank you from the bottom of my heart; you have just given me the greatest joy of my life. I felt God descend upon us at my beckoning. He came, he was here, present.”
The celebrant then goes on to address directly the female visitors in the following words, “Thanks above all to you, my dear sisters, who have come from so far away, and whose presence among us, whose obvious faith, whose active piety have given us all a salutary example.”
He goes on to describe them as the edification of the parish and tells the congregation that it is “sometimes enough for a single, select ewe to make God decide to come down upon the flock”.
The irony of this commendation is that the women are prostitutes and the girl’s aunt is the madam of the brothel in which they work – a fact of which the reader is all the time aware.
Overall, the story can be read as an ironic reversal of the conventional profile of participants at the Eucharist.
To receive the Eucharist worthily, a person must be in a state of grace but women who make their living as sex workers would, in principle, be considered unlikely to be in the state of grace. Yet the women are represented as kind, sympathetic, warm-hearted and generous-spirited, and capable of exercising a powerful religious influence.
What Maupassant shows is that those whose lifestyle is at odds with traditional moral theology can exhibit many of the qualities that are commended in the Gospel.
The story contains a further ironic resonance because the contribution of the prostitutes to the liturgy will remind readers of Jesus’s acceptance of Mary Magdalen and the adulterous woman.
God indeed does work in mysterious ways.
Dr Kevin Williams lectures in Mater Dei Institute, Dublin City University, and is working on a study on religion and the literary imagination
Father Greg Reynolds leads Mass at the Inclusive Catholics service in South Yarra, where one first-time visitor brought his dog along
Fr Greg Reynolds wants his church of dissident Catholics to welcome all – ”every man and his dog”, one might say, risking the non-inclusive language he deplores – but even he was taken aback when that was put to the test during Mass yesterday, reports The Age.
A first-time visitor arrived late at the Inclusive Catholics service in South Yarra with a large and well-trained German shepherd. When the consecrated bread and wine were passed around, the visitor took some bread and fed it to his dog.
Apart from one stifled gasp, those present showed admirable presence of mind – but the dog was not offered the cup!
Fr Reynolds, a Melbourne priest for 32 years, launched Inclusive Catholics earlier this year. He now ministers to up to 40 people at fortnightly services alternating between two inner-suburban Protestant churches.
The congregation includes gay men, former priests, abuse victims and many women who feel disenfranchised, but it is optimistic rather than bitter.
Yesterday a woman, Irene Wilson, led the liturgy and another, Emmy Silvius, preached the homily. Two more passed the bread and wine around.
Fr Reynolds – his only clerical adornment a green stole around his neck – played as small a role as he could.
FULL STORY Dissidents preach a new breed of Catholicism (Age)
Archbishop Hart protests Catholic ridicule
CONGRESS-SURVEY Jul-24-2012 (880 words) xxxn
Black Catholics’ faith, ties to church are strong, says researcher
By Mary Ann Garber
Valerie Washington, executive director of the National Black Catholic Congress, prays during a conference Mass July 20 in Indianapolis. (CNS/Mary Ann Garber, The Criterion)
Catholic News Service
INDIANAPOLIS (CNS) — Black Catholics are more engaged in their faith than their white counterparts, according to a historic national survey conducted by two University of Notre Dame professors in 2011.
It also found that culture and faith are closely integrated in the African-American community.
Donald Pope-Davis, a sociologist and one of the researchers, told National Black Catholic Congress XI participants July 19 that key findings of the survey indicate that black Catholics express their faith with greater vitality, and 86 percent believe that integrating African-American religious expression into the liturgy is important.
Survey respondents also affirmed the desire by black Catholics to become more knowledgeable about the complexities of the Catholic faith as well as the church’s traditions and history, Pope-Davis said during his keynote presentation at the congress, which was held July 19-21 in Indianapolis.
“Faith Engaged: Empower, Equip, Evangelize” was the theme for the congress, which focused on the discussion and approval of a pastoral plan for black Catholics as its main task.
More than 2,200 participants — including bishops, priests, deacons, men and women religious, laypeople and youths — represented dioceses from across the country.
“The energy has been very high here, which is a good thing,” Father Kenneth Taylor, pastor of Holy Angels Parish in Indianapolis and director of the archdiocesan Office of Multicultural Ministry, said during a break in the congress sessions July 20.
“We are issuing a national pastoral plan at the end of the congress, and we’re going to need a lot of energy, motivation and commitment to implement it,” the priest told The Criterion, Indianapolis archdiocesan newspaper.
Congress presentations began on a scholarly note with Pope-Davis analyzing the results of the extensive survey conducted with Notre Dame professor Darren Davis for the first time last year. Co-sponsors were the National Black Catholic Congress office, the University of Notre Dame president’s office and the university’s Institute for Church Life.
There are significant “within-group differences” among African-American Catholics, Pope-Davis said, which reflect considerable diversity of experiences.
“This is good news,” he said of the findings. “Prior to this study, there were many people that thought our black Catholic community was in disarray.”
The survey found that “religious engagement of blacks is greater than among whites (59 percent to 35 percent),” Pope-Davis said. “By almost every measure of religious engagement, African-American Catholics are considered stronger in their faith than white Catholics.”
He said “three distinct areas” of religious engagement were measured — spirituality, emotionality and social interaction.
Black Catholics “have a history of using religious expression as a social and cultural way in which we engage in the community,” he said. “For many of us, going to Mass, participating in the sacraments and engaging in the life of the parish is also a social opportunity. This is an important finding because for us our faith is not just a religious conviction. It is also a cultural nuance that helps us think of the world in a particular way.”
Other important findings show that weekly Mass attendance is higher among African-American Catholics than among white Catholics by a ratio of 48.2 percent to 30.4 percent, Pope-Davis said, but many black Catholics who go to church regularly are not registered in a parish.
“One of the interesting things — and this may come as no surprise to you — is that one in four African-American Catholics perceive some form of racism in their parish,” he said. “This is a concern because our Catholic faith tells us that we are one in the body of Christ and we express our faith as a community.
“Yet, we know that in some of the communities and some of our parishes there is a perception of segregation,” Pope-Davis said. “This becomes a problem, and this is a key finding that we think needs to be addressed and will be part of the pastoral plan.”
Asked about the scope of racial inclusiveness in parishes, he said, 31.5 percent of black Catholics indicated that they are uncomfortable at church because they are one of the few people of color in their parish and 25.9 percent of black Catholics think fellow parishioners avoid them because of their race.
About one-fourth of the black Catholics surveyed also said fellow parishioners reluctantly shake their hands, and they have experienced racial insensitivity from their priest.
“This is a problem particularly given the centrality of priests and religious in the church,” Pope-Davis said. “If the shepherd marginalizes people, what should he expect from the community that he provides service to?”
Survey results can help improve the potential for growth in the church, he said. “Thirty-six percent (of respondents) are satisfied with the targeting of black vocations. We want that number to be closer to 80 percent. … Forty-five percent are satisfied with the promotion of racial integration in the church.”
“All of the historical data that we have found indicates that cultural identity … is an important part of who we are,” Pope-Davis said. “We know that education is a game-changer for us in our society, particularly in this economy.”
On a spiritual level, he said, “If Christ is the centerpiece of your existence, then how you see your faith will be informed by that foundation.”
- – -
Garber is senior reporter at The Criterion in Indianapolis.
- – -
Editor’s Note: Results of the national survey of black Catholics is available at www.nbccongress.org/special-report/2011-black-catholic-survey.asp.
Copyright (c) 2012 Catholic News Service/USCCB. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed.
CNS · 3211 Fourth St NE · Washington DC 20017 · 202.541.3250
- a catholic prayer
- belief of catholics
- bible and catholic
- bible of the catholic church
- catechism of catholic
- catechism of catholic church
- catechism of the catholic
- catechism of the catholic church
- catholic beliefs
- catholic bible study
- catholic books
- catholic christmas cards
- catholic church
- catholic church bible
- catholic church catechism
- catholic church history
- catholic church online
- catholic doctrine
- catholic faith
- catholic first communion
- catholic guide
- catholic hymns
- catholic information
- catholic mass
- catholic missal
- catholic news
- catholic prayer book
- catholic prayers
- catholic source
- catholic sources
- catholic theology
- catholic topics
- catholics and the bible
- confirmation gifts
- doctrine catholic
- holy cards
- holy spirit catholic
- liturgical calendar
- prayers for children
- prayers for the catholic church
- resources catholic
- roman catholic doctrine
- roman catholic faith
- roman catholic teaching
- roman missal
- spiritual catholic
- st charles borromeo
- st francis de sales
- st john the evangelist
- st rose of lima
- sunday homilies
- the catechism of the catholic church
- the catholic catechism
- the catholic prayer
- the catholic saints
- the roman catholic faith