What’s your pastor worried about?

The good folks at CARA have some answers:  CARA recently asked a random sample of pastors in our National Survey of Catholic Parishes (NSCP), “What is the greatest challenge facing your parish in the next five years?” Each pastor could respond in their own words. These were then examined for common themes and content. First [Read More...]

Report: Archdiocese of New York moves to close historic parishes in massive consolidation

Details: The Archdiocese of New York took a major step last week toward consolidating its dense network of 376 parishes, entering the final stages of planning for what is likely to result in the most significant sweep of parish closings seen here in recent memory. Early last week, an advisory board that has been working [Read More...]

Maryland parish offers regular “White Mass” named for St. Lawrence, to support “people with different abilities”

Details:  There’s a quiet room at St. Aloysius Church in Leonardtown named after St. Lawrence. The story of St. Lawrence’s martyrdom helps underscore the reason for the room and the impetus for a growing community-based program in Southern Maryland that is touching the lives of people with “developmental differences.” The story of St. Lawrence will [Read More...]

From death to life: joining a parish gives meaning to men on death row

From CNS: Some of the newest members of Holy Family Parish will never attend Mass at their church. They will never talk with fellow parishioners over coffee and doughnuts after Mass, join the church choir or volunteer for a mission trip. They are inmates on death row at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville. Some [Read More...]

The challenge of Pittsburgh: one priest to run four parishes

He’s be assisted by a parochial vicar and three deacons. From The Pittsburgh Catholic:  On the door of Father Stephen Kresak’s refrigerator in the rectory of Corpus Christi Parish in McKeesport is a decorative magnet that a parishioner gave him. He keeps it where he will see it each morning as a reminder that “I [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...]

Who’s the boss: priests take classes to learn management skills

From The New York Times:   They came for prayer and fellowship, naturally. They gave confession to other priests, too. But mostly they came for lectures. Lectures on employment law. And on best practices in hiring and firing. And accounting and auditing. It was five days with hardly any theology. Beginning Jan. 5, during the cold [Read More...]

The “consumer mentality” of American parishes: Want fries with that?

An episcopal priest, Fr. Tim Schenck, has some interesting observations on his blog, and I think they apply to Catholic parishes, as well: My only living predecessor as rector at St. John’s (they all stay 30 years) has a theory about free-standing altars. He says the unintended consequence when they pulled them out from the [Read More...]

New Orleans archbishop orders school calendars changed to keep Sundays free

Details:  After months of nudging Catholics to reclaim Sunday as a day to attend Mass and spend time with family, New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond is mandating that Catholic schools clear their calendars that day each week. Aymond began asking schools last year to tweak practice schedules and reschedule social events so harried families could [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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