Parish and Place: Making Room for Diversity in the American Catholic Church

ISBN : 9780190270322

Tricia Colleen Bruce
304 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Oct 2017
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The Catholic Church stands at the forefront of an emergent majority-minority America. Parish and Place tells the story of how the largest religion in America is responding at the local level to unprecedented cultural, racial, linguistic, ideological, and political diversification among its membership. While the Catholic Church is traditionally organized geographically, this is not always the case. According to Church law, bishops may establish "personal parishes" to serve not a given territory, but a defined, niche purpose-to accommodate variance in "rite, language, or nationality" or "for some other reason." Nearly all of the United States' Catholic dioceses have such parishes, but few know about them. Tricia Bruce offers the first sociological study of personal parishes, based on an original national survey of U.S. Catholic dioceses, ethnographic data gathered through field observation at 67 personal parishes in fifteen dioceses, and interviews with pastors, diocesan leaders, and bishops. Bruce argues that while personal parish designations come from the top down, they are simultaneously shaped by bottom-up parishioner choices. Parish and Place demonstrates the interdependence of grassroots behavior and institutional authority in building local religious communities.


Chapter 1: Parish
Chapter 2: Boundaries
Chapter 3: Decisions
Chapter 4: Difference
Chapter 5: Fragmentation
Chapter 6: Community
Appendix A: The Study
Appendix B: National Survey of Personal Parishes (NSPP)

About the author: 

Tricia C. Bruce is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Maryville College whose books include Faithful Revolution and Polarization in the US Catholic Church. She received her PhD in Sociology from the University of California Santa Barbara, and has conducted research for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

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