A pair of recent studies spell out the challenges followers of Vincent, Louise, Elizabeth and Frederic face today. A Lilly Foundation sponsored study focuses on Catholic parish life. A Barna Group study provides a picture of the broader Christian landscape by tracking the changes among the four out of 5 American who consider themselves Christian.
The CARA study confirms that in the last decade, the numbers of Catholic priests and Catholic parishes have declined in number, but the scale of parish life in the United States has expanded along with the nation’s growing Catholic population. Bigger parishes, more Masses, and ministries in languages other than English are becoming the norm. Also lay ecclesial ministry — somewhat formally defined in recent years as working at least 20 hours a week in paid parish employment as a recognized and authorized church minister — has continued to grow, as has the number permanent deacons. More than half of all parish staff, including those not engaged in liturgical, catechetical or other ministries, were women.
The broader Barna Study describes the significant changes among those who consider themselves Christians in the US. For that majority, the past two decades have been a time of substantial religious change. Just as American society itself is in a state of substantial upheaval, Christians redefining redefining the core practices and beliefs of Christianity in America. Five of the six religious behaviors tracked underwent statistically significant changes since 1991, and five of the seven belief measures also changed notably.
It is enlightening to see this study’s breakdown of the changes in the various “Christian Tribes”.
All these documented changes impact our efforts to serve in today’s society.
However, it important to remember that each of our founders underwent significant changes or “horizon shifts” in their own lives.
Struggling with the issues…
- How do these changes affect the way our charism is lived out today?
- What changes have taken place in your group in the past decade or so?
- How have you as a person hanged your approach to ministry?
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