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How NOT to revitalize a parish #172132
04/15/06 10:48 AM
04/15/06 10:48 AM
Joined: Oct 2003
Posts: 372
Downers Grove, IL
John Gibson Offline OP
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John Gibson  Offline OP
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Downers Grove, IL
Yes... Its Roman Catholic... Read this from the Chicago Tribune.

This Catholic church is born again
Evangelical approach helps attendance soar

By Margaret Ramirez
Tribune religion reporter
Published April 15, 2006

On Easter Sunday, two huge video screens will project praise hymns in this Catholic church as the rock 'n' roll choir leads the celebration of Jesus' resurrection. The priest will consecrate the Eucharist from a lowered altar that brings him closer to his people. Flowering dogwood branches will encircle the church's baptismal font, now an immersion pool in the center aisle surrounded by four gurgling fountains.

Holy Family Catholic Parish Community in Inverness is marking its own rebirth this weekend, opening a $1.4 million renovated sanctuary to its 12,000 parishioners that embraces many elements of the Protestant evangelical movement.

The changes might seem unusual to old-school Catholics. They have raised eyebrows among more orthodox leaders in the archdiocese. But the pastor and parishioners say they are carving the model for the future American Catholic Church.

In contrast to many other Catholic churches where attendance has dropped, Holy Family Parish is booming, even winning back Catholics who were attending Willow Creek, the nondenominational megachurch 3 miles away. Holy Family, with more than 3,700 families, is one of the largest congregations in the archdiocese.

The secret to the 22-year-old church's success has been replicating what growing churches are doing, but in a Catholic way. The result is an innovative congregation that bills itself as "an evangelical church in the Roman Catholic tradition."

"I think what happened to the Catholic Church is we became a little comfortable with ourselves and forgot some of what made us Catholic. We forgot what made us passionate," said Holy Family's pastor, Rev. Pat Brennan. "So I've just taken the best that I've seen of Catholic parishes and evangelical churches and put them together to make Holy Family. In doing that, I think we've rediscovered the heart of Catholicism."

Like several other parishioners, Mary Whiteside said she was on the verge of abandoning her Catholic faith when she found Holy Family. On her first visit, Whiteside said she was hooked by the music and the pastor's riveting homilies. Her husband, Phil, who was raised a Baptist, was so moved that he converted to Catholicism.

"Great things are happening in this church. We're just very alive," said Whiteside, who is on the parish leadership council. "We're sharing some elements of the evangelical church, but I don't think we're trading any part of our Catholic identity."

Holy Family was started two decades ago when Cardinal Joseph Bernardin became concerned about the large numbers of Catholics in the northern suburbs leaving their churches to become members of Willow Creek Community Church. In 1984, the former archbishop purchased 16 acres of farmland in Inverness and founded a new parish community, Holy Family.

"We were a different kind of Catholic Church from Day One, because of how we were founded," said Colin Collette, director of liturgical ministries.

Holy Family's first pastor, Rev. Medard Laz, was selected mainly for his financial expertise. In 1993 Brennan, former head of the archdiocesan office for evangelization, was named to succeed him. In his new role, Brennan saw several key ingredients that a parish had to focus on to serve the needs of today's Catholics: a family approach to evangelism, small faith communities, adult religious education, and use of multimedia.

At Holy Family, laypeople run the church, managing nearly 140 ministries and financial operations. During the week, small groups meet in parish homes. And though many Catholic churches have been slow to use the Internet, Holy Family has an impressive Web page with photos, video from services, choir music and streaming audio of Brennan's homilies.

"The way our kids are growing up with iPods," Brennan said, "you have to have these things if you want to keep them in church."

Many parishioners describe themselves as "cradle Catholics" who became bored with church. Maria Graft, who was raised Catholic, had been attending Willow Creek for two years, but eventually found herself missing the liturgy and sacraments of the Catholic Church.

"I remember the day I came back, I was overwhelmed," she said.

Even before the renovation, Holy Family stood apart from other Catholic churches and was designed to blend evangelical style with Catholic worship. From outside, the church is a stone and glass structure, striking in its simplicity.

Inside, there are no stained glass windows, no candles, no statues of saints. The dominant feature is an enormous 16-foot acrylic cross that hangs from the ceiling over the altar with Jesus gazing downward, his hand outstretched to people.

Now with the renovation of the church, which included addition of the video screens and baptismal pool as well as improved lighting and sound system, parishioners say Holy Family is entering a new phase.

"We're playing in the big leagues now," said Graft, who sings in the choir. "We had to do these renovations, not necessarily to compete with other churches, but just to stay relevant and up to date. It's a turning point."

But tensions have risen with the current archbishop, Cardinal Francis George, who supports a more orthodox view of the liturgy than his predecessor. Parishioners say the most recent example of that tension is the dispute over kneelers.

In the church's original design, Holy Family never had kneelers, partly to replicate evangelical churches but also to provide more room between pews. But when the church presented renovation plans to the archdiocese last year, parishioners learned the plans would not be approved unless the church installed kneelers.

"I'm disappointed," said Rosemary Geisler. "That was a decision that should have been left up to the people, and instead it was forced on us."

The minor dispute has led some parishioners to worry about the type of priest who will be selected as pastor of Holy Name after Brennan's term ends in two years. Dolores Siok, who has been at Holy Family for 17 years, worries about what will happen if the new priest wants to take the church back to Catholic orthodoxy.

"Everyone is concerned about the possibility that we get a staunch pastor who wants to take us backward. We're just praying we get someone who shares our vision," she said. "Or else we'll just be back where we started with people leaving the church."

Re: How NOT to revitalize a parish #172133
04/15/06 11:08 AM
04/15/06 11:08 AM
Joined: Jun 2002
Posts: 5,264
somewhere betwixt the Alpha an...
ebed melech Offline
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ebed melech  Offline
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somewhere betwixt the Alpha an...
Here's the link to the parish...

Holy Family Website

What a mess. Just to clarify, this is not at all what I was advocating in my discussion of the 'Emerging Church" movement. The principle of "accomodation" does not mean reducing the worship of the church to its lowest common demoninator and sprinkling it with the latest fads. People who are spiritually minded are looking for more than "Tonight Show" formats of liturgy. To be "evangelical" and "catholic" does not mean to slavishly imitate methods of the evangelical movement. Channel the missionary zeal, personal love for Christ, and immersion in Sacred Scripture into a traditional Catholic milieu, and you can have a valid synthesis.

And did you catch that "cross"? Good grief.

Gordo

Re: How NOT to revitalize a parish #172134
04/15/06 11:12 AM
04/15/06 11:12 AM
Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 1,173
East
JohnS. Offline
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JohnS.  Offline
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East
On Kneelers ...

"I'm disappointed," said Rosemary Geisler. "That was a decision that should have been left up to the people, and instead it was forced on us."

This church is Protestant, right?

Re: How NOT to revitalize a parish #172135
04/15/06 11:20 AM
04/15/06 11:20 AM
Joined: Nov 2005
Posts: 4,518
The Most Corrupt State
Dr. Eric Offline
Catholic Gyoza
Dr. Eric  Offline
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The Most Corrupt State
mad

Sure, let's get rid of stained glass windows, statues, Icons, ancient hymns, priests, and even the Liturgy itself so we can keep parishioners.

This reminds me of the post in the Church News Forum. I've also heard of a non-denom church that has planned to use clips from The Matrix and songs from the Beatles and Led Zeppelin to make "the church more appealing."

Re: How NOT to revitalize a parish #172136
04/15/06 11:20 AM
04/15/06 11:20 AM
Joined: Jun 2002
Posts: 5,264
somewhere betwixt the Alpha an...
ebed melech Offline
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ebed melech  Offline
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somewhere betwixt the Alpha an...
BIP's ("Butts in Pews") is not always the best criterion for vitality. I'd rather have a small, faithful, mustard-seed remnant church, than filled to capacity parish stadiums who celebrate themselves.

I once knew a priest in Pennsylvania who used to do a "light show" at the Mass. High Drama - yes. Mysterium Tremendum - no.

Gordo

Re: How NOT to revitalize a parish #172137
04/15/06 11:24 AM
04/15/06 11:24 AM
Joined: Nov 2005
Posts: 4,518
The Most Corrupt State
Dr. Eric Offline
Catholic Gyoza
Dr. Eric  Offline
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The Most Corrupt State
I just went to the website of this church. I think I'm going to be sick. :p

Re: How NOT to revitalize a parish #172138
04/15/06 11:24 AM
04/15/06 11:24 AM
Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 1,173
East
JohnS. Offline
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JohnS.  Offline
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East
Even before the renovation, Holy Family stood apart from other Catholic churches and was designed to blend evangelical style with Catholic worship. From outside, the church is a stone and glass structure, striking in its simplicity.

Inside, there are no stained glass windows, no candles, no statues of saints. The dominant feature is an enormous 16-foot acrylic cross that hangs from the ceiling over the altar with Jesus gazing downward, his hand outstretched to people.


Sounds like a non-incarnational theology.

Re: How NOT to revitalize a parish #172139
04/15/06 01:34 PM
04/15/06 01:34 PM
Joined: Dec 2002
Posts: 1,904
Illinois, USA
Hesychios Offline
Orthodox Catholic Toddler
Hesychios  Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by John S.:
...Sounds like a non-incarnational theology.
Bingo

Re: How NOT to revitalize a parish #172140
04/15/06 01:46 PM
04/15/06 01:46 PM
Joined: Jun 2002
Posts: 5,264
somewhere betwixt the Alpha an...
ebed melech Offline
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ebed melech  Offline
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somewhere betwixt the Alpha an...
Bingo is another strategy that doesn't revitalize parishes either.

:p Gordo

Re: How NOT to revitalize a parish #172141
04/15/06 02:40 PM
04/15/06 02:40 PM
Joined: Sep 2002
Posts: 474
usa
sam Offline
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sam  Offline
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Quote
Holy Family Catholic Parish Community in Inverness is marking its own rebirth this weekend, opening a $1.4 million renovated sanctuary to its 12,000 parishioners
How NOT to revitalize a parish?
Come on people. Which one of our churches has 1200 members let alone 12000?
We spend a lot of time here criticizing others' attempts to revitalize/evangelize. We spend a lot of time here criticizing a lot of things. Maybe its just our hunky mentality. If we are so perfect in our methods WHY are our pews empty? What kind of evangelization is going on in our parishes? (CDL's parish excluded) Coffee socials?

The Good Friday services in a local BC parish had 19 in attendance, with just two children under the age of 16. 20 years ago the place was packed. Of those 19 I heard two women in front of me criticizing that one young family a few pews forward. apparently their children weren't sitting still enough. They weren't dressed properly, etc etc.

You like small parishes? Who is kidding whom? Who pays the bills in a small parish? How many have been closed in the last two years because the land they sit on is worth more than the people to the Eparchy? To quote from one post "Fr X doesn't see any growth in the near future." Why is that? That death mentality might be expected from an 80 year old, but this particular priest is 30 something!

We as a people do a lot more to tear down than we do to build up. Perhaps this Iverness parish isn't exactly on the right track according to us, but they've drawn in the people, they've built a school, they have multiple ministries, etc. They are ALIVE and ACTIVE. They can grow together towards that right track.
We on the other hand are dead men walking, criticizing all the way.

I apologize for the negativity. It seems every post I've read this Holy Saturday has had some type of negative criticism in it. What is with us? We've just completed 40 days of the Fast.

This just isn't for me anymore.
Sam

Re: How NOT to revitalize a parish #172142
04/15/06 04:27 PM
04/15/06 04:27 PM
Joined: Feb 2005
Posts: 427
North Alabama!!!
Carole Offline
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Happy Birthday Carole  Offline
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Posts: 427
North Alabama!!!
Sam,

With all due respect it is really a good trade off to have 12,000 members in a parish and yet have no true sense of the true faith?

How can a priest possibly be a faithful shepherd to that many parishoners?

Here's their Reconciliation Schedule:

Quote
Individual Reconciliation is offered Saturdays at 3:30 p.m. Communal Reconciliation held the first Saturday of each month at 3:30 p.m.
One time per week for what? An hour? For 12,000 parishoners? Obviously noone is going to Confession. So what good does it do to have 12,000 Catholics if the vast majority are not receiving the Sacrament of Penance?

And "Communal Reconciliation"? There is no such animal. There can't be. That's a Protestant innovation.

Or how about their "Cross of New Life"? The Rubrics clearly state that there must be a Crucifix. Yet this church has a large lucite modern sculpture of a man who is clearly not cruicifed.

So what good does it do for this "Catholic" church to have 12,000 people in regular attendance if they are not being taught the Faith? If they are being "fed" Protestant-like mumbo-jumbo without the truth of the Church then what is the point?

Bigger does not always mean better.

I find this to be very sad and I pray for the souls of the faithful who may be led astray by these types of parishes.

"They can grow together" on the right track?

Not if they're going to continue to dismiss the Cardinal's instructions and complain about a potential priest not sharing "their vision".

If I had to choose between a small parish of devout and orthodox Catholics who are taught faithfully by an orthodox priest what it truly means to be Catholic or a parish where you can see a "Mass" where the sacrifice of the Mass takes place in someone's family room on two plastic folding tables like:

[Linked Image]

I'd choose the small impoverished parish that isn't likely to be a threat to someone's soul.

Re: How NOT to revitalize a parish #172143
04/15/06 04:44 PM
04/15/06 04:44 PM
Joined: Feb 2006
Posts: 311
The Hurricane-- I mean, Sunshi...
MizByz1974 Offline
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MizByz1974  Offline
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The Hurricane-- I mean, Sunshi...
Egad! (shuddering, getting up from the computer, and going to the bathroom to vomit)

Okay, I'm back now. Sheesh, warn us before you spring something like that on us! eek

God bless,

Karen

Re: How NOT to revitalize a parish #172144
04/15/06 04:52 PM
04/15/06 04:52 PM
Joined: Feb 2005
Posts: 427
North Alabama!!!
Carole Offline
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Happy Birthday Carole  Offline
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North Alabama!!!
Quote
Originally posted by MizByz1974:
Egad! (shuddering, getting up from the computer, and going to the bathroom to vomit)

Okay, I'm back now. Sheesh, warn us before you spring something like that on us! eek

God bless,

Karen
Karen if you think that is bad you should see the "cross" behind the table .. I mean suspended over the table ... I mean altar.

Re: How NOT to revitalize a parish #172145
04/15/06 05:25 PM
04/15/06 05:25 PM
Joined: Feb 2006
Posts: 311
The Hurricane-- I mean, Sunshi...
MizByz1974 Offline
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MizByz1974  Offline
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The Hurricane-- I mean, Sunshi...
I saw it Carole... unfortunately. Welcome to Holy Modernist Wanna-Be-A-Protestant-Mega-Church parish, where we worship man-- I mean, God-- in a spirit of fun. I mean, isn't Christianity about feeling GOOD? :rolleyes: Any parish that shies away from the image of Christ crucified is not a parish I would ever willingly set foot in.

And I bet the Tabernacle is nowhere in sight either... it would just detract from the self-worship of the parishioners. They probably have the Lord in a utility closet in the back of the hall someplace.

Thank God we found our parish. smile

God bless,

Karen

Re: How NOT to revitalize a parish #172146
04/15/06 05:41 PM
04/15/06 05:41 PM
Joined: Feb 2005
Posts: 427
North Alabama!!!
Carole Offline
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Happy Birthday Carole  Offline
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Joined: Feb 2005
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North Alabama!!!
Quote
Originally posted by MizByz1974:

Thank God we found our parish. smile

God bless,

Karen
Amen, Karen! Now we just need to pray that God preserves our parish.

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