Question: Pastoral Letters

The final stages of dissertation writing, as it turns out, are not conducive to a prolific blogging career. I do hope to have two posts up soon– one about voucher initiatives across the country and another about an excellent new book on parish closures.

However, I am writing today with a shameless plea.  In the course of my continuing research I have developed a question that seemed like it might be best answered by the Catholic Conversation’s readership.

If one were to be interested in tracking down all the pastoral letters ever written about Catholic education [or any other topic for that matter] in the United States… where might the best place to look be?


Habits in the News: The Power of Image

Emilio Morenat. The Chicago Sun-Times: “Vatican waging a War on nuns” by Carol Marin (4/20/2012).

Last week, the Vatican’s Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith released the results of its on-going doctrinal assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), the larger of two umbrella organizations representing the majority of women religious in the U.S.  Since then, the story has been picked up by hundreds of media outlets across the U.S. and abroad, and these stories have already led to campaigns in support of LCWR sisters.  Many others have discussed and will continue to discuss the details of the Vatican’s recent decision to reprimand the largest leadership organization of women religious in the United States.  The substance of this story is surely important to readers of “The Catholic Conversation,” but I have been especially fascinated by the pictures and images that accompany these news stories. Continue reading

Back in Action

Sorry, I’ve been away traveling and the blog has been relatively silent as a result.  However, I am back and we should have posts up soon.  I’m looking forward to a post (or two or three) discussing the LCWR situation from a sociological viewpoint.  We are also hoping to have a post on school vouchers and their consequences for Catholic school enrollment, and much more this month.  Finally, I’ve gotten some passionate comments from readers that I want to include in our conversation (along with responses), so look for all of that coming soon to The Catholic Conversation.

Redefining the Public Discourse at the Local Level: A Look at Two Catholic Parishes and their Attempts to Define Church Discourse

I am currently working on a Master’s Thesis project at Loyola University Chicago examining parish cultures around politics. The study focuses on two ethnographies in the Archdiocese of Chicago[1] – 1) an ethnography of St. Mary Magdalene Parish, a self proclaimed social justice parish with a collective narrative of “All are Welcome,” and  2) St. Pius Parish, an active parish in the Archdiocese working on issues regarding respect for life. A finding I am currently working through is an unexpected focus at both of the parishes on human sexuality. Continue reading

“Intentionality” as a Growing Trend in Parish Ministry

As a pastoral planner and researcher for the Diocese of Cleveland, I spend a lot of time tracking ministry trends.  One that has my attention at the moment is the degree to which parishes are becoming more intentional, organized and participative in their consultation and ministries.

This movement toward intentionality can be seen through a number of indicators, specifically the increasing use of mission statements, parish pastoral councils, and pastoral planning by parishes, as well as the broadening of consultation with the laity in the exercise of parish leadership.
Continue reading