Carolina: Cruising Past 70: WOW: Choosing a Home Parish for Spiritual Growth

Monday, November 4, 2013

WOW: Choosing a Home Parish for Spiritual Growth

Bill with the author and speaker, Joyce Coronel
Holy Cross Catholic Church courtyard in Mesa, Arizona
Another priority for Bill and me, in addition to finding our family physician, is to choose a home parish. In the last four years, we had hopped from parish to parish across the continent,  from the smallest chapel (8-seater) to the biggest basilicas, not staying long enough to become familiar even with the songs being sung in service nor contribute into a good stewardship. We strongly believe that a good home parish is vital to our spiritual growth and strengthening as individuals and as a couple. 

another view
The Catholic Church of the US has 78.2 million self-identified members and is the largest single religious denomination in the United States, reaching 25 percent of the population. The United States has the fourth largest Catholic population in the world, after Brazil, Mexico, and the Philippines, in that order. Within the 195 geographical dioceses and archdioceses (excluding the Archdiocese for the Military Services), there are 17,644 local Catholic parishes in the country.

The term parish refers not only to the territorial unit under the Diocese but also to the people of its community or the congregation as well as to church property within it. The word parish originated from the Greek paroikia, "the dwelling-place of the priest" (in Tagalog we say parokya). Established in 1969, the Diocese of Phoenix (the entire metropolitan area with 43,967 square miles) has 92 parishes, more than 800,000 individual members and almost 300,000 households served by 128 religious priests, 230 deacons, and countless lay people.

yet another view
In our previous parish, the St, John the Baptist Catholic Church in Kent, Washington, Bill and I had become a well-known couple, members of the Supper Club and founders of the Filipino-American Association. Bill was also an active Eucharistic Minister. Actually, when the Parish was starting, he was also an active member of the Parish Management Committee.  So we have longed to belong again to a parish where we can share our gifts not only of money but also of time and talent. 

We had a good idea of what we were looking for in a parish. Aside from 1) being administered well, a good parish 2) is very welcoming and solicits ideas and input from parishioners. As such, it 3) celebrates well-prepared and celebrated Sunday masses,4) offers continuing religious education, sacramental formation, devotional opportunities, and retreats for spiritual growth, and 5) has social justice and advocacy groups and opportunities for service and outreach. The weekly Bulletin is always an indicator and this Parish has 12 pages every week!

Reverend Richard Felt, Pastor
To our surprise, the very first parish church we went to, the Holy Cross Catholic Church, the nearest to Viewpoint, had such a lively Life Teen Mass that we decided to be members. The priest managed to get people involved by using stories and a dynamic delivery, interjecting humor in his homily.  The congregation represented all age groups (not only a retirement community) with a preponderance of Hispanic parishioners, and many activities were being reported on. 

Lasagna Dinner sponsored by Knights of Columbus,
emceed by Reverend John Shetler, Parochial Vicar
As a matter of fact, we quickly decided to join the Lasagna Dinner with Joyce Coronel as speaker on Oct. 26 at the Parish’s Anderson Hall. Judging by the response to this fund-raising event, it looks like we joined the right parish! Joyce is a Catholic journalist who writes for the Catholic Sun and has been a staunch pro-life activist since she was young. She has also written a book, Martyrs Crown, of the persecuted Catholics of war-torn Middle East. And there are about a thousand n the Phoenix area alone.

12-page bulletin every week
Now Bill is thinking of joining the Knights of Columbus chapter in the parish while I am longing for a Supper Club. In the meantime, we are regular attendees of the lively Sunday Life Teen Mass (because I think I am still a teenager!).