The Field Hospital: Covering parish life

This story appears in the The Field Hospital feature series. View the full series.

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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All-day confession is a regular feature of Lenten life throughout the United States. A diocese picks a day, encourages repentance and makes priests available. One example comes from the diocese of Rockford, Ill.

When Bishop Frank Caggiano moved from Brooklyn to become Bishop of Bridgeport, Conn., in 2013, he landed in a diocese in one of the wealthiest regions of the country, but which was mired in debt. He’s taking a businesslike approach. Dioceses can learn a lot from companies like JetBlue, he says.

Know a lapsed Catholic? In a parish in the Diocese of Superior, Wis., the names are put in a pot. They are prayed for, and, reached out to, as part of the pope’s Holy Year of Mercy.

A big story percolating below the surface: parish schools are failing to reach many Latino families, and a recent study indicates that the problem is not just financial, it is frequently cultural. 

Cardinal Timothy Dolan asks: Where is the Catholic Sandy Koufax? It’s a reference to the Los Angeles Dodger great who declined to pitch on Jewish high holy days, even when they conflicted with the World Series. The cardinal’s point is not that we are lacking in Catholics who can throw 100-miles-per-hour and paint the corners. March Madness is descending on Good Friday observances. Parishes are even asking permission to avoid Lenten observances in favor of social gatherings. The cardinal is not pleased.

A priest from upstate New York retired in St. Augustine, Fla., and preaches the gospel of solar power in the Sunshine State. Parishes need to do more, he says.

Parishes are closing in the northeast and Midwest. But where population grows, so does the church. A new parish unfolds in Orange County, Calif.

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