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A Theology of the Parish
The Face of the Church in Challenging Times

Current interest in the situation and future of parishes in Roman Catholicism has focused largely on qualitative sociological studies and practical pastoral models. These approaches have filled important gaps in pastoral studies literature. Often, however, theological reflection on the actual significance and meaning of the parish – essential for self-understanding, motivation, and unity – has been deemphasized. The Face of the Church answers skepticism about the pastoral role of theology by presenting a case for “Theology of the People” as an important tool for empowering whole communities at the local level of the Church. It unfolds a vision of the parish as a diverse and dynamic community whose members own their integral place within the Church and engage their essential role in the Church’s mission.

Key concepts explored include the missionary discipleship prominent in the writings of Pope Francis; the signs of the times appealed to in the documents of the Second Vatican Council, along with the concept of pastoral listening, and that of communal discernment developed within contemporary Ignatian spirituality; the parish as a community of communities; the relationship between parish and sacred place, and consequent implications for the “care of our common home”; and the gospel mandate for servant leadership. Written with the ongoing and far-reaching crises of the Church and of global society as necessary reference points, and with frequent use of real-case examples, this book reflects on the possibility of a Church that sustains its offerings of faith, hope, and love to a troubled world through nurturing and empowering its local parish communities.

William A. Clark, SJ, is an associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, where he has been teaching since September 2001. He specializes in systematic theology, particularly ecclesiology, and has a special interest in parish life and issues affecting local church communities.

ISBN: 978-08091-5562-0

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