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

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

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

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

Synopsis

As faith communities in the United States grow increasingly more diverse, many churches are turning to the shared 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 a congregation and part of a centralized system, and as one piece in a complex social ecology. The Shared Parish also 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.

Excerpt

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 a map downloaded from the Internet, I drove right by. Much later I discovered that this church was dedicated in 1970, replacing an older, smaller structure built farther back on the same lot. The previous church had a recognizably Roman Catholic configuration for a small town in a historically Protestant section of the Midwest—it was compact, traditional, and discreet. A handful of German and Irish Catholic families built it in Gothic Revival style in 1860-1861. Even when renovated in the 1940s, the church remained artfully hidden from the main road behind a grove of trees.

Until the second half of the twentieth century, that little Gothic church served the small parish community admirably. Just before World War II, however, a handful of new employers had arrived in town. By the end of the war, the population—including the Catholic population—began to grow more rapidly. That growth necessitated the construction of a much larger church. In the late 1960s, parish leaders opted to build right on the main road in a Colonial Revival style then popular among Protestants. In those heady days of ecumenical . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.