August 21, 2010


Being back in the archdiocese of Boston is interesting. When I last moved here, the scandals were just breaking. When I moved away, the closings and reconfigurations of parishes were in effect. From what I hear, Boston is still a church with her troubles. Mass attendance here is among the lowest in the country, I think I read somewhere. There will be further combining of parishes and more difficult decisions ahead, I'm sure. The 'What's wrong with church' conversation is a common one here. There isn't enough money, there aren't enough priests, the priests and seminarians we have aren't the right sort (I hear it said; I don't know if I agree), there are too many buildings in disrepair, and so on and on.

On the other hand, I couldn't help noticing the other day, during my first trip to Boston College, that it seems like an extraordinarily prosperous institution. A couple of impressive buildings had been built even since I was last using their library in 2005. Everything is clean and neat. Presumably this is because Boston College has capitalized on the administrative talent of some Catholic person or persons, combined with the tuition paid on behalf of lots of young people, many of whom I presume are Catholic, along with the gifts of older Catholics.

So it seems like there is some kind of disconnect in the prosperity of Catholic institutions around here. I don't want to diagnose; I'm just saying that I noticed.


Anonymous said...

Do you think the problem might simply be one of bad advertising? To many people that are new to the city, and are not there to attend a Catholic institution:How easy are they to locate? Are they visible on the main thoroughfares, or are they tucked back in tiny side-streets?Boston is an old city, yet a major portion of it population are (young)transient newcomers.I think the Church could do better in making itself more visible and accessible to those transient newcomers.

Greg said...

Interested and thought-provoking.

Recently, at our parish we have had guest priests from Loyola and from St. John's Seminary. The visits from priests active in theology, teaching or studying, is a breath of fresh air.

My observation has been there is a hunger for continuing catechism in the parishes that is not being met.

There is a hunger for spiritual formation but the Church is invoking a starvation diet.

Part of the problem may be there are not enough lay persons sufficiently educated to know the possibilities.

So instead of exciting theological offerings, the parishes bring in professional speakers who offer warmed-over pop psychology. Yuck.

When I gave presentations on Taming the Wolf, which I will revise and offer again, I found the hunger for discussion was bordering on the ravenous. Why are we starving the faithful?

Jordan M said...

Maybe the church needs to go back to the people.

If teachings are important, take them to where people exist rather than waiting for them to come to the building.