New Year’s Review: Who won “The Convo”?

Happy 2013!

Sorry, the blog has been silent for a bit, but with the new semester gearing up, we will begin posting again.  For an initial blog, I thought that we would give a brief review of The Catholic Conversation in 2012.  A big thank you to all of our contributors this past year:  Gary Adler, Carol Ann MacGregor, Mike McCallion, Lucas Sharma, Mike Cieslak, David DeLambo, Sarah Moran, and Linda Kawentel.  And thank you to all of our readers this past year as well!

By the Numbers:

In 2012, we had 84 posts, 7,018 visitors, and 17,872 page views.  The average time viewers spent on a page was 2 minutes 21 seconds.

The single most-viewed post was Linda Kawental’s “Habits in the News:  The Power of Image”  This post received 1,202 pageviews and the average viewer spent 3 minutes and 39 seconds viewing it.  So, Linda wins “The Convo” for 2012–the newly named (and newly created) yet prestigious award for they most popular post on The Catholic Conversation.  Congratulations Linda!

Who will win “The Convo” this year?  We shall find out over the next three hundred and some days.  By the way, let us know how we have done and what you would like to see more of in 2013.

photo by Michael Holden via Flickr

Advent and Reconciliation

Last night, I went to our parish’s reconciliation service for advent with my wife and two children.  Importantly, our two children are 5 and 2 years old.  Needless to say, it’s always a challenge keeping them relatively quiet during a service (emphasis on the “relatively” part, since they are never truly quiet).  This time, however, was a special challenge since we had to stand in line for the sacrament, and the service was packed since it was also serving as the First Reconciliation service for the second graders.  Yet, that challenge turned out to be a grace-filled gift. Continue reading

Giving Thanks that CSPRI’s New Report on Catholic Giving is finally published!

CSPRI’s major research report on the Catholic giving gap in the U.S. is now finished.  You can read the full report and find out why religious giving among American Catholics lags behind that of almost all other faiths in the U.S.  Even more importantly, you can find out what our research suggests are the best ways for promoting generosity in Catholic parishes.  The report is also accessible from CSPRI’s home page at

In the weeks and months ahead, I will be publishing additional short “online analyses” here at the Catholic Conversation.  For instance, I will explore differences in likelihood and levels of giving depending on Americans reported approach to giving (e.g., giving spontaneously, giving what they can afford at the time, giving a weekly amount, or giving a percentage of one’s income).  I will also explore differences in giving among self-identified traditional, moderate, and liberal Catholics and examine explanations for why any such differences exist.  If you have a question regarding the topic of religious and charitable giving, please ask it via “comments” and I will see if I can incorporate your questions into my future posts in some way, shape, or form.

Happy Thanksgiving!

John Allen speaks of Modern Christian Martyrs

The ICL just finished hosting a conference exploring Modern Christian Martyrs entitled, “The Seed of the Church.”  The conference was outstanding with many excellent talks and engaging questions and discussion.  It was especially striking to attend the conference while much of the rest of the U.S. was focused on the presidential election as this conference sought to bring greater awareness to an issue that is so often overlooked today, especially by U.S. politicians and American Catholics. Continue reading

Authors Meet Critic: Debating New Evangelization and Vatican II Rhetoric

Sarah Moran recently summarized research by Mike McCallion, Ben Bennett-Carpenter, and David Maines on the New Evangelization in the Archdiocese of Detroit.

Now, the Catholic Conversation has given Sarah the opportunity to share her critiques of this article and Mike and Ben have posted responses here and here.

I love substantive back and forth that actually clarifies discussion.  Enjoy the debate!

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!




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

Monthly “Compendium” (February 18- April 3)

You may recall that I planned on compiling and summarizing posts from The Catholic Conversation into monthly “compendium” announcements.  I hoped that this would be an easy way to help readers navigate to earlier posts, which they might have missed but would find interesting.  Unfortunately, I did not keep up with these monthly compendiums in the spring and summer.  Fortunately, Sarah Moran has graciously agreed to help with our backlog of compendiums.

Honestly, the best way to keep track of all of our posts is to subscribe (for free) to The Catholic Conversation’s RSS feed through something like Google Reader.  For the future, you can also subscribe to e-mail updates through feedburner by clicking on the “E-mail Updates” link (in the right side bar), but this will not send you past posts, only future ones.  For people uninterested in RSS feeds, we will be working through our backlog of posts since Feb. 18 — the date of our last monthly compendium– and pointing out what topics we explored.  This compendium begins where the previous one left off and takes us up through April 3, 2012.  Thanks, Sarah for putting this summary together!


Monthly Compendium, Feb 18-April 3

Our previous monthly compendium can be found here.  In this “Monthly Compendium,” we’re recalling key insights from the conversation in February and March.  During that time, the Catholic Conversation engaged topics including religious freedom issues, the legacy of Vatican II, and the changing landscape of U.S. parish life.

With issues of religious liberty at the forefront of much news and Catholic discourse, several contributors explored, early on, sociological facets of the contraception and HHS mandate debate.  Gary Adler analyzed some sociological roots of this debate, especially how governments constitutionally approach religion, tensions between the sacred versus profane, and the decline of religious authority.  Brian Starks’ response highlighted how competing methods of framing this debate, especially those of Archbishop Timothy Dolan and the Obama administration, have evoked varied responses among Catholics.  Carol Ann MacGregor proposed several sociological “starting points” for explaining why certain issues, such as contraception, dominate a religious organization’s discourse at particular stages in that organization’s life.  Catholic identity politics, Brian added, must be included among factors that influence why an issue like contraception is being debated currently.

Both Carol Ann and Brian looked to the work of Melissa Wilde on Vatican II for answers as to the the sociological factors that influence why particular reforms come to the fore, not only at that council, but at any given time.  Brian posted and readers responded with comparisons of the Vatican II moment and our present moment, especially how the effervescence and hopefulness of the former compares with the mixed signs of “deffervescence” in today’s American Catholic context.

Several contributors built on a central thread of previous posts: the changing landscape of American parishes.  Gary Adler looked at an instance of communion denial in a Washington, D.C. parish to offer a fresh perspective on the Catholic Church as a bureaucracy, a helpful concept in understanding how priests and individuals negotiate between the wider Church’s unifying regulations and their local context.  Michael Cieslak offered a parish typology based on measures of importance to unpack how parishes’ “corporate personalities” influence they type of parishioners that gravitate to them.   Despite this diversity of parish personalities, David DeLambo suggested, there is a common and increasing trend toward participation and intentionality in parish ministries.  Finally, Brian examined recent data on growing Hispanic populations and the impact of this demographic shift on U.S. Catholicism and parish life.