The Field Hospital: Covering parish life

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by Peter Feuerherd

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Editor's note: "The Field Hospital" blog series covers life in U.S. and Canadian Catholic parishes. The title comes from Pope Francis' words: "I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. …"

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A billboard campaign, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, wants to get your parish to promote mercy through the sacrament of reconciliation.

More possible closures. This time in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, 15 parishes are contemplating the ax. The statistics here on Mass attendance are startling. Why the abrupt decline? It can't all be attributed to population stagnation. The fallout from the sex abuse scandal and the ongoing culture wars is hard to shake, especially in places, such as Western Pennsylvania, where there is relatively little new immigration growth buffering the numbers.

Here's a rare meteorological term: microburst. It's kind of like a tornado, but different. In any case, one hit a church in the Diocese of Springfield, Mass., in 2011 The plan was to rebuild, but now the bishop says the cost will be too high.

Nothing could seem like more wholesome fun than a parish festival. But this one in Texas turned deadly. A horrible tragedy.

There is nothing more ho-hum than parishes tallying up fundraising figures. But this Diocese of Rochester parish is doing something different: it's tallying up its prayer time.

The deep roots of a cultural tradition -- the Wisconsin parish fish fry -- are examined. It has to do with a combination of theology and pastoral practice, European culture, Prohibition and abundant Great Lakes fish.

A mass mob will hit a Detroit church, and that's a good thing. It's the 21st such event, in which Catholics from all over the region descend on a historic Detroit city church. It's a way, say organizers, to use social media to connect suburbanites with the parishes left behind as Detroit shrank during the past 50 years.

[Peter Feuerherd is a professor of communications and journalism at St. John's University in New York and contributor to NCR's Field Hospital blog.]

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