As faith communities in the United States grow more diverse due, in large part, to immigration, increasing numbers of Catholic parishes are being “shared” by distinct cultural groups who retain their own ministries and styles of worship. Today, it is estimated that 6,300 parishes in the United States serve ethnically, linguistically and culturally diverse communities. Shared parishes are one of the few institutions in American society in which cultural groups maintain their own languages and customs, while still engaging in regular intercultural negotiations. They are also increasingly changing the face of the Catholic Church in the United States.
In his book, The Shared Parish: Latinos, Anglos, and the Future of U.S. Catholicism (New York University Press 2014), Brett C. Hoover, Assistant Professor of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University, explores the shared parish through an in-depth ethnographic study of a Roman Catholic parish in a small Midwestern city that has been demographically transformed by Mexican immigration in recent decades. Through his depiction of shared parish life, Hoover outlines new ways of imagining the US Catholic parish. He argues that the parish must be conceived as 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 US society.
On Thursday, February 19, 2015, the Center for Migration Studies (CMS) hosted a dialogue with Professor Hoover to discuss the impact of immigration on US Catholic institutions and the effect of shared parish communities on immigrant integration, multiculturalism, and the future of the Catholic faith. Professor Hoover’s presentation was followed by short responses by Maria del Mar Muñoz-Visoso, Executive Director of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Secretariat for Cultural Diversity in the Church, and Fr. Walter Tonelotto, Pastor of Our Lady of Pompeii Church in New York City. Donald Kerwin, CMS Executive Director, moderated the event.
Center for Migration Studies
Brett C. Hoover
Assistant Professor of Theological Studies
Loyola Marymount University
Maria del Mar Muñoz-Visoso
Executive Director, Secretariat for Cultural Diversity in the Church
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)
Fr. Walter Tonelotto
Our Lady of Pompeii Church, New York City