Parishes need to prioritize community service more and liturgy less, say America readers
Before asking the above question, America thought it necessary to ask a sample of readers what they think their parish currently prioritizes. Almost half of respondents to our informal survey told America that liturgy appears to be the foremost concern of their parishes, while the remaining readers selected education, music and preaching among other categories. William Indermaur from Durham, N.C., was representative of many of our poll respondents in his view that “the focus on liturgy is extremely important to the Catholic faith and how we practice that faith.” And yet he hoped his parish would focus more on supporting the marginalized. “The root of our religion is love through service,” Mr. Indermaur said.
When asked “What would you like your parish to make a higher priority?” the most popular answer among our readers was community service (35 percent), followed by outreach/evangelization (20 percent). Trish Kinnee of Michigan selected the latter category. “We need to reach out to help others beyond our church doors. We need to be like evangelists in our own community, which is sadly divided,” wrote Ms. Kinnee. “We have a wealthy parish, but our church leaves those struggling with addiction, financial problems and abuse to social services.”
Teenagers and young adults feel more connected when they are rolling up their sleeves and working—seeing that they are making a difference in the world and making connections in the parish at the same time.
Ms. Kinnee was among a number of readers who saw evangelization and community service as intertwined. On the topic of community service, Debbie Dirmeyer from Maryville, Tenn., also made this link: “Teenagers and young adults feel more connected when they are rolling up their sleeves and working—seeing that they are making a difference in the world and making connections in the parish at the same time. With the crisis of so many young people leaving the church, I think this could help some stay. We older folks would feel more like a community at the same time.”