The Shared Parish
Latinos, Anglos, and the Future of U.S. Catholicism
Publication Year: 2014
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.
Published by: NYU Press
Title page, Copyright, Dedication
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I wish to thank those scholars whose comments or general advice helped to shape this work along in diff erent ways: Eduardo Fernández, Faustino Cruz, Timothy Matovina, Stanley Brandes, Kathleen Garces- Foley, R. Stephen Warner, Gerardo Martí, and Kenneth McGuire. I am...
Author’s Note about Terminology and the Identity of Persons and Places
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Th is study employs certain terms for cultural groups as if they were a settled matter, but I must acknowledge that this is not the case. There is no generally agreed upon terminology for the cultural groups described in this study, and there are complications in the terms the people themselves...
Introduction: The Shared Parish
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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...
1. All Saints from Village Church to Shared Parish
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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...
2. Making Sense of a Changed World: The Strategies of Shared Parish Life at All Saints
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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...
3. Being Apart Together: Sharing the Shared Parish
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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...
4. Theorizing the Shared Parish
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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...
5. Challenging Cultural Encapsulation in the Shared Parish
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In November of my parish year at All Saints, I attended a civic event sponsored by the city government of Havenville. Th is “community dialogue” gathered several dozen people from the different cultural groups in town. They came together one evening at the local college campus...
Conclusion: Whither the Shared Parish?
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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...
Appendix: Research Methodology
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Th e exploration of All Saints Parish—seen through the lens of its transformation in response to changing demographics—forms the heart of this study of the shared parish. It is rooted in ten months of ethnographic fieldwork from late August 2007 to early July 2008 at All...
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About the Author
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Page Count: 304
Publication Year: 2014