American Catholic parishes throughout the country have been shrinking since the 1960s. John J. Pideret, S.J., and Melanie Morey bring fifty years of experience in Catholic colleges and universities where they had extensive contact with young Catholics and New York City parishes. In this volume they discuss the general problem of declining parishes and specify several solutions to the various underlying issues. The authors employ four basic principles-narrative, norms, benefits, and practices-to increase Mass attendance, to strengthen a broad Eucharistic culture, to encourage a wider use of prayer, and to establish enduring religious education. This book is an important resource for every Catholic church.
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Rev. John J. Piderit, S.J. is president of the Catholic Education Institute and former president of Loyola University Chicago. He is coauthor with Melanie M. Morey of Catholic Higher Education: A Culture in Crisis. Melanie Morey is senior director for research and consulting at NarrowGate Consulting, a division of the Catholic Education Institute.Review:
Father John J. Piderit, S.J. and Melanie M. Morey once again exercise their critical insight to identify the pressing questions which affect parish life in the United States today and propose practical strategies to address those questions. Drawing on their analysis of our Catholic past, they challenge our imagination to apply effective solutions to issues that touch the lives of all engaged in the life of the local Church. (Msgr. Paul R. Sanchez, Pastor, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel RC Church, Astoria, NY)
The parish is the most dynamic center of Catholic life in the Church. Dr. Morey and Fr. Piderit have offered a thoughtful study to guide church leaders in continuing to renew the culture of the parish so that it can meet and transform the challenges of a secular, often oppositional, wider world. (Dr. Mary Cross, Archdiocese of Seattle)
This is a spirited book. Motivated by love for the Church and in keeping with the Church's mandate to preach the Good News, Fr. Piderit and Dr. Morey analyze the problems afflicting modern day parish life with the intention of revitalizing it. The beauty of the book is that they do not simply list problems (such as a decline in Mass attendance and widespread ignorance of why Mass attendance is important) but that they provide instruments that may be repeatedly used to assess and correct the discrepancies we see between the ideal and real in parish life. Dead-on, too, is their emphasis on the importance of vital parishes to the (secular) culture at large. As one who works in a European setting where the problems identified here are all the more acute, I welcome this analysis and the wealth of specific, practical suggestions it offers. (Timothy P. Shilling, Center for Parish Spirituality, Nijmegen, The Netherlands)
There is no issue more important in American Catholic life than that presented in the title of this book, 'renewing parish culture.' It is the parish that is the fundamental unit of formation of Catholic life, from liturgy, to spiritual and ascetical practices, to catechesis, to social concerns, to support for marriage and family. There are so many difficult issues involved! This book dodges none of them and offers cogent analysis and sage advice on all of them. I recommend it enthusiastically. (John Cavadini, University of Notre Dame)
This book would be an excellent point of departure for discussions at both the parochial and the diocesan levels. Informed by a sophisticated social theory and theology, Renewing Catholic Parishes arrives at some very concrete proposals. It is designed not only to be read and discussed but also to be used. (Commonweal, September 2009)
It is easy to be enthusiastic about this book! By framing the challenge in terms of rebuilding a "Catholic culture," Piderit and Morey make a significant contribution to the renewal of Catholic parish life. The strength of the book lies in its realistic diagnosis of the challenges faced at the parish level, its conception of the best response as the restoration or creation of a strong Catholic culture, the structure it offers for tackling this project, and its many creative and practical recommendations on how to begin and carry it out. (Sister Sara Butler, M.S.B.T., St. Joseph's Seminary, Yonkers, NY)
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