Today many Catholics wonder about the future of the parish. In many parishes the congregation has become smaller and more elderly. Whereas once parishes were served by two or more priests, now a single priest often serves two or more parishes, writes Andrew Hamilton in Australian Catholics.
With the decline in attendance at Sunday Mass, many Catholics are linked with the church principally through their children’s Catholic school. Other Catholics are most closely associated with the Church through groups that are not based in the parish.
This situation has raised many questions. If there are not enough priests to serve the parish communities, should the Church ordain married women or married men? Should lay Catholics be invited to offer leadership and pastoral care?
Should the Church move from locally based parishes to groups based on common interests, like school communities or nursing homes where the liturgy can be adapted to the needs of the group? Should we explore virtual communities in which people are linked through Facebook and other networks?
In this Explorations we shall consider the place the parish has had in the life of the church, reflect on features of the world in which parishes are set, and ask how we see parishes in the future.
A good way to begin thinking about parishes is to look at the way in which St Paul spread the faith. He went into cities telling people about Jesus Christ and gathering new Christians into the body of Christ. They saw the church as the beginnings of the new world reconciled with God through Jesus.
FULL STORY The future of the parish (Australian Catholics)