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The Shared Parish

The Shared Parish: Latinos, Anglos, and the Future of U.S. Catholicism

Brett C. Hoover
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    The Shared Parish
    Book Description:

    As faith communities in the United States grow increasingly more diverse, many churches are turning to theshared parish, a single church facility shared by distinct cultural groups who retain their own worship and ministries. The fastest growing and most common of these are Catholic parishes shared by Latinos and white Catholics. Shared parishes remain one of the few institutions in American society that allows cultural groups to maintain their own language and customs while still engaging in regular intercultural negotiations over the shared space.This book explores the shared parish through an in-depth ethnographic study of a Roman Catholic parish in a small Midwestern city demographically transformed by Mexican immigration in recent decades. Through its depiction of shared parish life, the book argues for new ways of imagining the U.S. Catholic parish as an organization. The parish, argues Brett C. Hoover, must be conceived as both acongregationand part of a centralized system, and as one piece in a complex social ecology.The Shared Parishalso posits that the search for identity and adequate intercultural practice in such parishes might call for new approaches to cultural diversity in U.S. society, beyond assimilation or multiculturalism. We must imagine a religious organization that accommodates both the need for safe space within distinct groups and for social networks that connect these groups as they struggle to respectfully co-exist.

    eISBN: 978-1-4798-1576-0
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Introduction The Shared Parish
    (pp. 1-28)

    All Saints Catholic Church sits across Main Street from a national chain drugstore a few blocks south of downtown Havenville. All kinds of drivers pass by, from local shoppers and parents en route to schools to truckers making deliveries along the long state highway. Probably few recognize the red brick building with a steeple as a Roman Catholic church. You would have to slow down to read the marquee sign, or even park and get out in order to see the two statues of the Virgin Mary on the lawn. On my first visit in the spring of 2007, despite...

  6. 1 All Saints from Village Church to Shared Parish
    (pp. 29-66)

    In early 2008, I facilitated the creation of a bilingual display on the history of All Saints Parish. In preparation, a group of older parishioners sorted through their memories, I sorted through parish archives, and a handful of us looked through the photographs, newspaper articles, and other materials provided by the same group of elderly parishioners. A teacher with an artistic bent designed the display space and helped me set out the materials. We set out old photographs, first-person accounts of the past, anniversary booklets, newspaper articles, and artifacts. Over the next few weeks, parishioners filed by the exhibit aft...

  7. 2 Making Sense of a Changed World: The Strategies of Shared Parish Life at All Saints
    (pp. 67-102)

    Church kitchens lend themselves to household metaphors. Standing in the small kitchen in the church basement at All Saints, an elderly Euro-American first communion teacher named Diane offered me her rendition of what had happened with the demographic transformation at All Saints Parish. It had all worked like a marriage where the daughter-in-law moved into her mother-in-law’s house. Initially, the son’s wife is forced to abide by the mother-in-law’s rules and is none the happier for it. She paused. I weighed the analogy in my head. It did seem to capture the strong sense many Euro-American parishioners had of having...

  8. 3 Being Apart Together: Sharing the Shared Parish
    (pp. 103-144)

    During my parish year at All Saints, I attended two distinct Easter Vigil masses on the same night, one in English, immediately followed by one in Spanish. The Easter Vigil is a unique mass celebrated annually on the night before Easter Sunday (Holy Saturday—sábado de gloria). It includes prayers and chants around the lighting of the Easter fire and (Paschal) candle, a retelling of the biblical accounts of the foundational narratives of Judaism and Christianity, and the baptism or confirmation of adults who wish to become Catholic. Many Catholics consider it the high point of the official liturgical calendar;...

  9. 4 Theorizing the Shared Parish
    (pp. 145-174)

    I began this study of All Saints in Havenville by characterizing it as a shared parish. I created the term to try to make theoretical sense of a double reality at the heart of this and almost all of the Catholic parishes of this type. On the one hand, All Saints functioned administratively as one church; it had one pastor recognized by the bishop, one set of administrative records and procedures, and a single campus with one church and one parish school. On the other hand, All Saints was two distinct cultural communities operating in parallel—English and Spanish, Euro-American...

  10. 5 Challenging Cultural Encapsulation in the Shared Parish
    (pp. 175-216)

    In November of my parish year at All Saints, I attended a civic event sponsored by the city government of Havenville. This “community dialogue” gathered several dozen people from the diff erent cultural groups in town. They came together one evening at the local college campus, everyone seated in plastic chairs facing a lectern. The event began with a short speech by a white-bearded city councilman wearing an oxygen tube. On behalf of the mayor and city council, he greeted us and offered a brief history and appreciation of the city’s cultural diversity. The dialogue then began in earnest. The chairperson,...

  11. Conclusion: Whither the Shared Parish?
    (pp. 217-224)

    The experience of the shared parish recounted here mirrors the ways in which U.S. society and American Christianity in particular have been inexorably altered by the waves of immigration that began in the second half of the twentieth century. Some writers, social scientists, and theologians speak of this demographic transformation as the “browning of America” or the “de-Europeanizing” of American Christianity.¹ It appears even more dramatically in Roman Catholicism, since so many of the sending countries of today’s immigrants have a disproportionately Roman Catholic religious makeup. According to the 2010 census, of the top nine nations sending migrants to the...

    (pp. 225-238)
  13. NOTES
    (pp. 239-274)
    (pp. 275-294)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 295-298)
    (pp. 299-299)