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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Terry Humenik, pastoral associate at St. Jude Catholic Community in DeWitt, Mich., a part of the Diocese of Lansing, says that ARISE, a program developed by RENEW International, is making an impact.

The process at St. Jude's began in October 2015. Since then, the parish has hosted small group reflection meetings involving about 100 parishioners. Out of that process has emerged a greeters' ministry at Mass and social outreach, including one group who collects items for refugees that could not be purchased with food stamps; another group even "adopted" two refugee families. Another participant has been visiting shut-ins at a local nursing home.

St. Jude parishioners also participated in the Back to Work closet, a program at Holy Angels in Flint to "help the people there to overcome the widespread poverty and unemployment that has grown for the past 30 years," wrote Humenik. The Back to Work Closet assists Flint residents with proper attire for job interviews. Flint, famous around the country for its water crisis, is part of the Diocese of Lansing.

Watch the Field Hospital for future stories about the impact of RENEW International programs on parish life.

A proposed Pennsylvania bill changing the statute of limitations on sex abuse could result in the closing of parishes and Catholic schools, says a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference.

Parishioners work to save their church in Chicago. It will take about $3 million to keep the doors of the historically Polish St. Adalbert Roman Catholic Church, built in 1912, open

No official "closings" are on the immediate horizon, per se, but change is coming to parishes in the Diocese of Erie, Pa.

Consolidation, consolidation, consolidation. That's the word heard about dioceses throughout the Midwest and the Northeast. Here is another example, from the western Detroit suburbs.

The Archdiocese of Newark assists families to receive First Communion outfits, which can be an unexpected strain on tight budgets.

[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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