Editor's note: "The Field Hospital" is NCRonline's newest blog series, covering life in Catholic parishes across the United States. The title comes from the words of Pope Francis: "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. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds. ... And you have to start from the ground up."
"The Field Hospital" blog will run twice weekly on NCRonline.org along with feature stories and news reports about parish life in the U.S. If you have a story suggestion, send it to Dan Morris Young (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Peter Feuerherd (email@example.com).
The Archdiocese of Cincinnati has developed an extensive network of mission "twinning" parishes. Churches in the archdiocese are connected with parishes in Peru, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Grenada, El Salvador, Haiti, Jamaica, Palestine and Ghana, among other foreign destinations, as well as parishes in impoverished regions in the U.S., such as parts of Kentucky and Louisiana. The relationships range from basic financial support to exchanging visitors and visiting students sponsored in parish schools overseas. More than 40 parishes in the archdiocese have become involved. Mission Office director Mike Gable says the program offers a real-life connection between the poor of the world and Catholics in southwest Ohio.
Looking for a Francis effect? A Harvard scholar says it can be found in increased charitable giving and interest among Catholics.
"Giving Tree" programs are a popular feature in parishes this season. Here’s one such effort making an impact among the immigrant poor of Lowell, Mass.
Put this in the "War on Christmas" file: even the baby Jesus is not safe in New Jersey.
In hard-pressed Chester, Penn., traditional churches are closing while storefront operations thrive.
When it comes to retaining young adults, the Mormons top the list, while the Catholics are at the bottom. In many Catholic parishes, the big story remains those who don’t show for Sunday Mass.
[Regular Catholic press contributor Peter Feuerherd writes from Queens, N.Y.]