Parish cancels pig wrestling competition after backlash

In Wisconsin:  St. Patrick Parish in Stephensville has called off its decades-old annual pig wrestling event following animal cruelty accusations. It is instead planning a new competitive game, a “human foosball tournament in the mud,” the Outagamie County Catholic parish said Tuesday. “After much prayer and many hours of discussion, we realize that what we [Read More...]

Want to prove you’re a good Catholic? Get your papers in order!

An excellent nudge, from Commonweal:  Want to prove you’re a good Catholic? I’m afraid you’ll have to do more than feed the hungry and teach your children the Lord’s Prayer in at least four modern languages and one or two dead ones. The absolute steel test for proving you’re a good Catholic has little to [Read More...]

Lent to go: church offers drive-thru fish fry

From The Detroit News:  On Fridays during Lent, just a little before 4 p.m., a line of cars starts to wrap around Inkster Road in Redford Township. It’s not a line for a popular fast food chain, but the fish fry drive-thru at a local Catholic church. The men’s club at St. Robert Bellarmine and [Read More...]

Girls interrupted: how one parish changed its altar server policy

From CNA:  Holy Name Parish in Denver changed its altar serving policy about six months ago. Now, altar serving is reserved for boys.But Holy Name’s pastor, Father Daniel Cardo, has established a new sacristan program for girls in the parish. The “Sacristans of Little Therese of Lisieux” have a schedule and responsibility, similar to the [Read More...]

UPDATE on SF parish banning altar girls: “A lot of the people who are upset are not parishioners”

A follow-up on this story from last week, from SF Gate:  The Rev. Joseph Illo, pastor at Star of the Sea Church since August, said he believes there is an “intrinsic connection” between the priesthood and serving at the altar — and because women can’t be priests, it makes sense to have only altar boys. “Maybe the most [Read More...]

What happened when a priest invited 500 young people in his parish to talk about the church?

Read on, via National Catholic Reporter:  Less than 10 percent of the 500 invited showed up. The low attendance was discouraging. It told me that the church is irrelevant to their lives. They do not even care enough about church to come and tell us why they don’t want to come. For them, the church [Read More...]

New York parish serving the deaf slated to close

Details: The choir members filed up to the altar in robes the color of the red roses of Saint Elizabeth, the patron saint of their beloved church. They arrayed themselves on two risers and looked to the choir director for a cue. Then they raised their hands in unison and began to sign. “Jesus,” they [Read More...]

Check this out: one parish’s own news show—and this place is a hotbed for vocations

A friend from Georgia sent this my way. All I can say is: wow. It’s an impressive example of how one parish is using modern media. This comes from Transfiguration Catholic Church in Marietta, GA. It’s a parish news show called “Transfiguration Today,”  which is almost like a broadcast bulletin. But it’s done with a [Read More...]

“How to Build an Awesome Altar Serving Program in 10 Easy Steps”

People who visit The Bench regularly know that I never tire of gushing about my parish’s altar servers. We have about 140 of them, boys and girls, aged 9-22.  As I’ve posted pictures and sung their praises, readers have asked repeatedly, “How do you do it? What’s the secret?” Well, after much prodding, the moderator [Read More...]

“What is a parish?”: a homily for September 15, 2013

Today, traditionally the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, is also my parish’s feast day. Late yesterday, the parish administrator said, “You wanna throw together a few words for the 11:30 Mass?”  Okay, I said.  Here they are.  Yesterday, as I do every month, I met with families to schedule baptisms. And I’m always surprised [Read More...]


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