Today, 75 percent of homes have no school-age children. Thirty years ago it was just the opposite. When a large majority of households had school-age children to be formed and raised, it was not surprising that Catholic parishes could unite around the needs of the Catholic school and CCD program. A large number of households with children had something in common. Parishes focused on “doing something for the kids,” and it worked. The model based on very high proportions of Catholics with school-age children could succeed with relatively limited leadership. The overriding need and the structures required were obvious; everything grew up organically, in a taken-for-granted style around a common need. Nothing could be more different today. At a time when most households no longer have school-age children, people bring a diversity of needs that often overwhelm parishes and pastoral leaders. Having a large number of households without children means that they have very little in common. Pastoral leaders need to make hard decisions: What common interests are to be a central focus? We may therefore see good reasons to embrace the emergence of increasingly specialized parishes—some focused on youth, others oriented toward young adults, some with a strong focus on certain kinds of musical styles. The simple truth is that a number of ministry needs cost money and valuable talent. Parishes have limited funds and can only invest strongly in some areas. Logically, this situation would lead either to a mediocre parish life that tries to be all things for all people, or a specialized parish that does something especially well. © 2005, Bryan Froehle.
Authors Bryan FroehleRestricted