New Evangelization vs. Vatican II Rhetoric: A Response to New Research

Many thanks to Mike McCallion, Benjamin Bennet-Carpenter, and David Maines for their relevant research on the New Evangelization (NE).  The NE is a topic of special interest to me, having received much of my faith formation and education in the Archdiocese of Denver, an archdiocese that closely aligns itself with the NE mission.  This close alignment of missions is tangible throughout the diocese, most explicitly by the renaming of the center which houses the Archdiocese of Denver’s two seminaries and the majority of its offices to The John Paul II Center for the New Evangelization after the visit of the Pope John Paul II to Denver for World Youth Day in 1993.  The diocese’s website describes this center as being “on the frontlines of the Church’s modern ‘crusade’ for the ‘New Evangelization.”

In Denver, I interacted with several influential NE organizations, both formally, as an employee of one, and informally, through various archdiocesan events.  These organizations include the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) and the Augustine Institute, both founded and based in the archdiocese, as well as active communities representing many of the lay ecclesial movements which McCallion et al. describe as key NE agents, including the Neo-Catechumenal Way, Opus Dei, and Communion and Liberation.  To a large extent, my experience of the NE in Denver resonates with McCallion et al’s description that the “NE is a thoroughgoing effort to reconstitute the primary social dynamics both inside and outside the Catholic Church within global society.”  Yet when the authors present the conflicting rhetorics of NE and Vatican II ministry professionals in the Archdiocese of Detroit, much of my experience of NE professionals’ rhetoric differs. Continue reading

Welcoming youth to faith-filled futures (cont’d)

Since I linked to Marian’s San Damiano program yesterday, I figured I should show a clip from the ICL’s very own ND Vision today.  If folks know of (or are connected to) other great programs like these and especially if you know of short videos showcasing them that I could link to, please feel free to e-mail me and I will make posts like this a continuing feature.


Welcoming youth to faith-filled futures

There are not enough great programs for forming our youths into faith-filled adults, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t many great ones out there.  It just means that there are still not enough.

Since Marian University is on my mind.  Here is a video from one of those excellent programs–the Sam Damiano Scholars at Marian University.  Keep up the good work, Mark!




Review Essay: The Catholic Experience of Small Christian Communities

Review Essay on:  Lee, Bernard J. and D’Antonio, William V. et al.  2000.  The Catholic Experience of Small Christian Communities. New   York: Paulist Press.

Lee and D’Antonio et al’s book was the first national study of small Christian communities (SCCs), documenting their growing number and importance.  These facts alone should interest Church leaders and social scientists, but especially those involved in small Christian communities and evangelization.  Through a rather comprehensive multi-method approach, the authors provide both a descriptive statistical account of SCCs, semi-rich qualitative data via interviews with SCC members, and participant observation of actual SCC activity.  Given that others have reviewed these data however (CARA, 2000 and Gautier, 2002), this review will concentrate only on Bernard Lee’s critique of SCCs found in chapter five – “Perspectives and Portents: Theological Interpretations and Pastoral Recommendations.”  First, I question Lee’s notion that SCCs are functional equivalents of monasteries for containing religious virtuosi, suggesting this analogy is inadequate in that SCCs function more like Wuthnow’s special purpose groups (SPGs).  Secondly, I claim that Lee’s “wanting more” from SCCs is sociologically naïve and indicative of the seemingly ever constant and growing attitudinal and behavioral gap between professional ministers and ordinary laity. Continue reading

Vatican II: Golden Anniversary

Today is an important day.  The opening of the Second Vatican Council occurred on this day 50 years ago.  Below is a round-up of pictures and posts celebrating this landmark on the web.

In 1962, Pope John XXIII made a powerful speech to the thousands of Bishops who were in attendance to open the council, and you can read the speech in its entirety at Vox-Nova thanks to Mark Gordon.  It opens this way: Continue reading

April-May Compendium

We’re continuing to (retroactively) summarize posts to The Catholic Conversation in “compendium” announcements to help readers navigate to earlier topics. As Brian has mentioned previously, the best way to track posts is to subscribe to The Catholic Conversation’s free RSS feed or to receive e-mail updates (click “E-mail Updates” in the right side bar).  This compendium begins where the last one left off, covering posts from April-May, 2012.

Discourse on human sexuality remained a strong focus, with Lucas Sharma describing his ethnographic research on two Chicago parishes. While one parish focused on inclusivity and social justice and the other on respect life initiatives, both revealed an unexpected common objective: “redefining the discourse of the parish around human sexuality.” Gary Adler considered how ongoing social change in the perception of homosexuality, connected with complex magisterial teaching on the issue, invites controversy in addressing issues of homosexuality in local Catholic parishes.

Following the doctrinal assessment of the largest leadership organization of women religious in the United States, Linda Kawentel authored the Catholic Conversation’s most viewed post to-date:  The Power of Image.  Beginning a thread that continued in the following months, Linda examined the sociological dynamics at play in media coverage of this controversy, especially highlighting both the irony implicit in the media’s use of images of habited sisters from CMSWR congregations in lieu of images of (typically non-habited) LCWR sisters but also what this says sociologically about the power of images to shape discourse. Continue reading

New Scholarship: Contested Rhetorics in the New Evangelization Movement

“Individualism and Community as Contested Rhetorics in the Catholic New Evangelization Movement” appeared this month in the Review of Religious Research.  Authored by one of our contributors, Mike McCallion, and Benjamin Bennett-Carpenter and David Maines, the paper explores growing tensions between “New Evangelization Catholics” and “Vatican II Catholics” in ministry leadership in the Archdiocese of Detroit (AOD). Below is my brief summary of the article:

McCallion et al. undertook a two-year project in the AOD to investigate the New Evangelization (NE), an intra-ecclesial movement that “seeks to bring about renewed commitment among Catholics toward their faith as well as encourage non-members to join the church.”  Field data was collected over two years at NE meetings, workshops, and classes at three AOD sites: the archdiocesan central services, the archdiocesan seminary, and two parishes (considered as one site).  The authors attended various functions at each of the three sites, such as NE workshops hosted by the archdiocesan central services, courses at Sacred Heart Seminary in their Licentiate in Sacred Theology program in the New Evangelization (NE STL degree), and activities with parish NE committees. Continue reading