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 Pew Research Study indicates that American women are now far less likely to attend church services across all Christian denominations than they did a few decades ago. It tracks the growth of the "Nones," those without any formal religious affiliation. A disproportionate percentage of those are Catholics. This author from Salon blames it on the fallout from the culture wars. To our Field Hospital readers: Does that ring true to you? Are culture war issues part and parcel of your parish life?  If so, is it objectionable?

A church in the Boston archdiocese is closed, and its parishioners spend 11 years in round-the-clock shifts to keep it open. They recently gave up their fight after losing a court battle. But their dedication to their faith lives needs to be bottled up and serves as an inspiration for the rest of the church, this author says.

No more business-as-usual in a church in decline. Catholics in Quebec are being asked to see their parishes as missionary centers.

Catholic Charities in Maine provides support for parishes with its annual Matthew 25 Awards. Parishes receive funds to renovate soup kitchens and provide blankets for the homeless.

Time is running out on St. Peter Claver Church in Philadelphia as the archdiocese plans to put the historic structure for sale. The church was the mother parish for African Americans in the city. Among its founders was St. Katharine Drexel. It is located in a rapidly-gentrified area and has served as a center for African American Catholics over the past few decades (though it no longer is an active parish).

Youth groups from parishes in the Pittsburgh diocese are spending this summer doing service. 

I'm a big booster of Portland, Ore., a delightful, walkable city, with first-class mass transit and friendly vibe. It's also the home of my grandson. The city has lots of other boosters as well, as its population and real estate values ascend. There's a flip side to this: long-time residents are being priced out of their homes. A Catholic parish takes up the cause of residents of a mobile-home park.

[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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