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The emerging phenomenon of lay specialists in Catholic parishes

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The emerging phenomenon of lay specialists in Catholic parishes
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Michaelraj, Anthony, 1947-
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Age groups ( jstor )
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Liturgy ( jstor )
Parishes ( jstor )
Prayer ( jstor )
Priests ( jstor )
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Rituals ( jstor )
Sacraments ( jstor )
Anthropology thesis, Ph.D ( lcsh )
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Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1997.
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Includes bibliographical references (leaves 319-326).
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Also available online.
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Typescript.
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Vita.
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by Anthony Michaelraj.

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THE EMERGING PHENOMENON OF LAY SPECIALISTS
IN CATHOLIC PARISHES













By

ANTHONY MICHAELRAJ












A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 1997




























Copyright 1997 By

Anthony Nfichaelraj




























Dedication

This work is dedicated to my mother, and my father who is 92 years old,
and to my brother priest John Gillespie, who celebrates the
Silver Jubilee of his Priestly Ordination.














ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I express my sincere gratitude to my advisory committee, Dr. Gerald Murray, Dr. Paul Doughty, Dr. Leslie Lieberman, Dr. Diedre Crumbley, and Dr. Michael Gannon. These individuals have been a source of inspiration. I thank than for their guidance, instruction and criticism. I express my special thanks to my chair, Dr.Gerald Murray, for his patience throughout the ordeal of writing this dissertation, and his consistent encouragement and support to complete this work

I am no less indebted to my brother priests in town. I especially thank the pastors Fr. John Gillespie, Fr. Roland Julien, Fr. Michael Williams, and Fr. Jeff McGowan for their generous spirit to allow me to conduct the survey among the parishioners and interview the lay specialists and others at my own time schedule. My sincere thanks go to the lay specialists who gave unstintingly of their time and experience. I am exceedingly fortunate to have known Fr. John Gillespie who welcomed me to his parish to be in residence from 1990 to 1997. He gave me the opportunity to work in the parish from 1990 to 1993 and to pursue my graduate studies at the University of Florida. He has been a constant source of support and inspiration to me during the years of my research.




iv








Technically this research was not funded by any organization. But I should say that it was "funded" by many friends who gave their time, talent, and treasure. The list of persons who have helped me is too lengthy to mention each of them by name, but I trust they know who they are and will accept my thanks. I would like to acknowledge the help of some by name, who stood by me during the hard times of conducting the survey in four parishes: Kevin, Laura, and Elizabeth Hoyle, who accompanied me to the four survey parishes to distribute the questionnaires and collect them from the participants after each of the seventeen Masses, and Genevieve Thomas and Blossom Das who helped to prepare the envelopes with questionnaires and stamps for those who chose to take home the questionnaires. I thank Jean Weismantel and Margaret Joyner who were generous with their time and expertise in terms of editorial assistance.

I owe my thanks to Bishop Leon Tharmaraj, my bishop in India, who kindly provided me with some financial assistance for maintenance through the Koch Foundation, as well as flexibility of time to complete this research.














TABLE OF CONTENTS

pug

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ......................................... iv

LIST OF TABLES ............................................... x

AB STR A CT .................................................. xiv

CHAPTERS

I INTRODUCTION .......................................... 1
Research Questions and General Hypotheses ................... 6
Theoretical Perspective .................................... 6
The Survey Design ....................................... 9
Instrum entation ......................................... 12
Organization of the Study ................................. 17

2 SOCIOECONOMIC PROFILE OF THE CATHOLIC RESEARCH
SAM LE ................................................ 23
Historical Antecedents ................................... 23
The Catholic Parish ................................... 23
Early Ethnic Catholicism: Lay Involvement ................. 26
From Ethnic Catholicism to American Catholicism ........... 30
Vatican II: Emergence of New Validating Ideologies .......... 35
Statistical Overview of Research Sample ..................... 40
Distribution of Respondents by Gender ....................... 40
A ge ............................................... 44
Educational Level .................................... 46
Years of Catholic Schooling ............................ 48
M arital Status ....................................... 51
Incom e ............................................. 52




Vi








3 THE PROFILE OF HUMAN PROBLEMS ...................... 56
Hum an Problem s ........................................ 58
H ealth ................................................ 63
C rim e ................................................ 65
Drugs/Alcohol .......................................... 68
Dom estic Violence ...................................... 70
E ducation ............................................. 73
M arriage and Family ..................................... 77
Relational Problem with One's Spouse/Partner ................. 80
Problems with Understanding Responsibility and Commitment .... 82 Communication/Conflict Issues ............................. 84
Parent/Child Relationship Problems ......................... 85
Problems with One's Parent or In-laws ....................... 88
The Problems of Unplanned and/or Unwanted Pregnancy ......... 90 Personal Problem s ....................................... 92
Problems of Loneliness and/or Depression .................. 92
Loss of Job ......................................... 95
Problems Related to Self-esteem/Worth .................... 97
Personal Prayer as an Indicator of the Problems ............... 100

4 RELIGIOUS BELIEFS ..................................... 106
Catholic Beliefs: A Brief Overview ......................... 108
Core Catholic Beliefs with Regard to the Spirit World .......... 109
The Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist ................ 110
The Virginal Conception of Jesus ....................... 113
The Resurrection of Jesus ............................. 116
Life after Death ..................................... 118
The Eternity of Hell .................................. 120
Catholic Beliefs: Ethical or Moral Nature .................... 123
Nomnarital Sexuality ................................. 125
Divorce and Annulment ............................... 133
The Use of Contraceptives ............................. 136
A bortion .......................................... 139
Catholic Beliefs: Traditional Nature ........................ 142
Priestly Celibacy .................................... 142
M ale Priesthood ..................................... 145

5 THE CATHOLIC PRACTICES ............................. 150
Catholic Ritual Practices: A Brief Overview .................. 151
Structure of the Survey Questions ......................... 166
Religious Practices: Analysis ............................. 167

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Core Catholic Practices ............................... 168
Catholic Sacramental Practices ......................... 176
General Christian Practices ............................ 182


6 THE LAY SPECIALISTS: OVERVIEW OF THE TRANSITION .... 186
A Descriptive Definition of "Lay Specialists ................... 187
Characteristics of Lay-Specialists .......................... 190
M otivation ........................................ 190
Education ......................................... 193
Collaboration ....................................... 195
Lay-Specialists' Tasks ................................... 199

7 SPECIFIC ROLES OF THE LAY SPECIALISTS ................ 209
Liturgy Specialist ...................................... 209
Spirituality Specialist ................................... 215
Religious Education Specialist ............................ 218
Marriage and Family Specialist ............................ 221
M usic Specialist ....................................... 224
Youth Specialist ....................................... 227
RCIA Specialist ....................................... 229

8 THE LAY SPECIALISTS AND THE PARISHIONERS ........... 235
Independent Variable: Interaction with Lay Specialists .......... 237 Domain I: Parishioners' Involvement in Parishes .............. 240
Testing the Domain I Hypothesis .......................... 245
Domain Il: Parishioners' Christian Spirituality ................ 250
Core B eliefs ........................................ 251
Ethical and Moral Beliefs ............................. 252
Traditional Disciplinary Beliefs ......................... 254
The Core Catholic Practices ............................ 255
The Catholic Sacramental Practices ...................... 256
General Christian Practices ............................ 257
Lay Specialists and Parishioner's Financial Contribution ......... 260 Lay Specialists as "Example"' for the Parishioners ............. 267
Parishioners' Satisfaction with Lay Specialists' Execution of Tasks 276

9 CONCLUSIONS ......................................... 285
The Lay Specialists ..................................... 285
Hum an Problem s ....................................... 286
Religious Beliefs ....................................... 287

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Core Catholic Beliefs ................................. 288
Beliefs: Ethical and Moral Nature ....................... 288
Beliefs: Traditional Nature ............................ 289
Religious Practices ..................................... 289
The Core Catholic Practices ............................ 290
The Catholic Sacramental Practices ...................... 290
The General Christian Practices ......................... 291
Domain I: Lay Specialists and Parishioners' Involvement ........ 291 Domain H: Lay Specialists and Parishioners' Christian Spirituality 296 Lay Specialists and Parishioner's Financial Contribution ......... 300 Lay Specialists' Services and Parishioners' Satisfaction ......... 302 A Pragmatic Question: Are the Lay Specialists Needed in Parishes? 304

APPEN D IX ................................................... 311

BIBLIOGRAPHY .............................................. 319

BIOGRAPI-11CAL SKETCH ...................................... 327

























ix














LIST OF TABLES

Table PW
1. Gender of Those Attending Mass, by Parish ...................... 41

2. Gender of Respondents, by Parish ............................. 42

3. Age, by Parish ............................................ 45

4. Level of Education, by Parish ................................. 47

5. Catholic Schooling, by Parish ................................. 49

6. M arital Status, by Parish ..................................... 51

7. Incom e, by Parish .......................................... 53

8. List of Problems Reported in Number and Percentage .............. 60

9. Percentage of People in Each Parish Reporting the Problem .......... 61

10. Distribution of Health Problems, by Age Group ................... 64

11. Distribution of Crime Problems, by Age Group ................... 68

12. Distribution of Drugs/Alcohol Problems, by Gender ............... 69

13. Distribution of Education Problems, by Age Group ................ 76

14. Distribution of Spouse/Partner Problems, by Gender ............... 81

15. Distribution of Communication Conflict Issues, by Age Group ....... 84 16. Distribution of Parent/Child Problems, by Age Group .............. 87

17. Distribution of Parent/In-laws Problems, by Age Group ............. 89

x









18. Distribution of Loneliness/Depression Problems, by Gender ......... 93 19. Distribution of Job Loss Problems, by Age Group ................. 96

20. Distribution of Self-esteem/Worth Problems, by Age Group ......... 99

21. Number and Percentage of People Who Experience a Problem
and Pray about the Problem ........................... 101

22. Ranldng of Problems by Frequency of Occurrence and
Personal Prayer ..................................... 102

23. Responses to the Teaching That Christ Is
Physically (Real) Present in the Eucharist ................. 112

24. Responses to the Teaching That Jesus Was Conceived without
M ale Input ......................................... 115

25. Responses to the Teaching That Jesus Rose Physically from the Dead 117 26. Responses to the Teaching That the Human Soul Continues to
Live after Death ..................................... 119

27. Responses to the Teaching That Those Who Die in Grave Sin
W ill Spend Eternity in Hell ............................ 122

28. Responses to the Teaching That Premarital Sex Is Sinful ........... 128

29. Responses to the Teaching That Extramarital Sex Is Sinful
for M arried People ................................... 130

30. Responses to the Teaching That Homosexual Acts Are Inherently
Sinfid ............................................. 132

31. Responses to the Teaching That Divorce Is Prohibited and
Annulment Should Be Restricted ........................ 135

32. Responses to the Teaching That the Use of Contraceptives Is Sinful 137 33. Responses to the Teaching That Abortion Entails the Killing
of an Innocent Human Life ............................ 140

Xi








34. Responses to the Teaching That Priestly Celibacy Should Be Retained 144 35. Responses to the Teaching That Only Males May Be Ordained as
Priests ............................................ 147

36. Distribution of Religious Practices in Three Categories ............ 168

37. Distribution of Mass, Communion, and Confession, by Age Group ... 169 38. Frequency of the Religious Practice: Benediction ................. 176

39. Frequency of the Religious Practice: Rosary .................... 177

40. Frequency of Religious Practice: Novena, by Age Groups .......... 179

41. Distribution of the Practice: Retreat, by Age Group ............... 180

42. Percentages Practicing Bible Reading and Other Spiritual Reading,
by G ender ......................................... 183

43. The Level of Religious Observance, by Number and Percentage ..... 184 44. The Profile of Parish Activities and Agents, by Parish ............. 200

45. Percentages of Parish Activities and Agents, by Parish ............. 201

46. Tendency to Seek Help from Lay Specialists, by Parish ............ 238

47. Tendency to Seek Help from Priests, by Parish ................... 239

48. Distribution of Laity's Involvement in Parish .................... 242

49. Distribution of Laity's Involvement, by Gender .................. 243

50. Distribution of Involvement, by Age Groups .................... 245

51. Seek Lay Specialists' Help and Parish Involvement ............... 246

52. Seeldng Priest's Help and Laity's Parish Involvement ............. 248

53. Seek Any Help and Parish Involvement ........................ 249

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54. The Percentages of Parishioners' Sacramental Practices and
Interaction ......................................... 257

55. Percentages of Parishioners' Christian Practices and Interactions ..... 258 56. Respondents' Mean Weekly Contribution ...................... 261

57. Distribution of Mean Weekly Contribution, by Type of Help Sought 262 58. Income Categories and Seeking Lay Specialists' Services .......... 264

59. Income Categories and Seeking Priests' Services ................. 265

60. Mean Weekly Contribution of the Less Than $25K Who Sought Help 265 61. Mean Weekly Contribution of the Most Affluent Who Sought Help ... 266 62. Catholic Educational Level and State of Conviction ............... 270

63. Percentages: In Need to Make Connection between Life and Faith,
by Parish .......................................... 271

64. Percentages: In Need to Make Connection between Life and Faith,
by Gender ......................................... 272

65. Percentages: In Need to Make Connection between Life and Faith,
by Age Groups ...................................... 273

66. Percentages: In Need to Make Connection between Life and Faith,
by Help Sought ..................................... 274

67. Distribution of Opinion on Lay Specialists' Services, by Number
of Respondents in Each Parish .......................... 278

68. Distribution of Satisfaction on Lay Specialists' Services, by Number
of Respondents in Each Parish .......................... 281






xiii













Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirement for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

THE EMERGING PHENOMENON OF LAY SPECIALISTS IN CATHOLIC PARISHES

By

Anthony Nfichaelraj

December, 1997


Chairman: Dr. Gerald F. Murray Major Department: Anthropology

This study was conducted in four Catholic parishes in Florida of an organizational shift toward increased utilization of salaried lay professionals to carry out activities formerly the sole responsibility of priests. The research was conducted from 1994 to 1996. Parish organization, which has always entailed some lay involvement, has increased since the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). Researchers have attributed the increase to the decreasing number of priests, to a sense of shared responsibility in the Church, and as an accommodation to democratic trends in society.

Lay professionals belong to a subculture of laity; known as "lay specialists," they are emerging as a new phenomenon in American Catholic parishes. By virtue of specialization in a particular program, recognition in the community, and xiv








remuneration for their work, lay specialists have different statuses in the parishes, performing several specialized roles for which the Sacrament of Holy Orders (Ordination) was formerly thought necessary. Research questions were grounded on two general hypotheses: 1) Catholic parishes are threatened by breakdown in families, disappearance of Catholic education (schools), and erosion in distinct Catholic beliefs and practices; and 2) the presence of lay specialists performing their services increases parishioners' involvement and financial contributions to the parish, which, in turn, necessarily contribute to the stability and/or survival of the parish.

The hypotheses were tested in a cross-sectional survey of 1,293 participants from four parishes. The data indicate that some parishioners do in fact seek out the lay specialists for help for personal or domestic problems. Lay specialists interpret the Problems in terms of Catholic beliefs and practices. In addition, they provide Catholic education to children as well as adults and they increase parishioners' involvement in the parish. Of particular interest, the intensity of interaction with lay specialists emerged as a significant predictor of increased financial contributions to the parish.

The study analyzes these patterns in a human materialist pwddigm. When open systems are threatened by environmental or cultural forces, they may respond to these forces by elaborating their structures to more complex levels. From the research in four Catholic parishes, the author of this study maintains that the lay specialists are the new Phenomenon that is emerging to respond to the social forces that threaten the stability and/or survival of the Catholic parishes.

XV














CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION

Specialists are found in nearly all religions. Specialists who manifested some evidence of spirit interactions or other religious activities have such tides as shamans, mediums, diviners, priests, seers, gurus, and prophets. Anthropologists have investigated the characteristics and functions of these religious specialists. Eliade (1964) studied the technique of Siberian shamans, who interacted with the spirit world on behalf of the people, particularly in healing, divination, protection, and finding game animals. Other researchers such as Hultkranz (1973) and Siikala (1978) have found similar functional characteristics of the shamans: fighting spirits and defending the psychic integrity of the community.

The types of religious specialists change according to the ecological and cultural conditions of the societies in which they were found (Halifax, 1975). Shamans are found primarily in hunting and gathering or fishing societies with no political interaction beyond the local level. The shamanistic practices changed as societal conditions changed in the transformation from hunting and gathering to agricultural societies (Winkelman, 1992). Shamans' roles developed with the disintegration of the clan system and the stratification of the community (Siikala, 1978). Mediums are found in agricultural societies with political integration beyond

I








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the level of the local community (Lewis, 1971). Priests are found in societies with centralized authority and a hierarchy that are integrated with the political structure of the society. The priests work as community leaders propitiating supernatural beings on behalf of the community (Winkelman, 1992). Their priestly functions include divining, magic, and teaching with other specialized roles such as judge and m4strate (McKenzie, 1965). How the functional characteristics of the specialists in religion change in correspondence to the cultural and ecological factors of the society are documented in anthropology (Durkheim, 1961; Berreman, 1971; Harris, 1988). These data indicate that religions contain features and patterns which belong to or are intimately associated with the cultural core and, therefore, arise out of environmental adaptations (Winkelman, 1992).

The Catholic Church as an organized religion has specialists. Traditionally, there are three levels of specialists distinguished by the ritual or Sacrament of Holy Orders: episcopate (bishop), presbyterate (priest), and diaconate (deacon). Bishop, priest, and deacon, all of whom have received the Sacrament of Holy Orders, have a mandate to serve people in the area of their special ministry. The bishop is the chief of the Catholic diocese that consists of several parishes usually headed by a priest. Working with the bishop or a priest, the deacon serves the people. Ordinarily, priests function as religious specialists in the Catholic parishes. Their several titles such as confessor, teacher, counselor, social worker, administrator, spiritual director, and head of the Liturgical (ritual) celebration speak for their multiple tasks in the parish.








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When parish priests, even with the assistance of deacons, find themselves overwhelmed by these tasks, they seek help from volunteer associations such as the Rosary Society, the Catholic Family Movement, and the Altar Society (Dolan, 1985). The laity, as volunteers in these associations, perform several services of spiritual and social nature in the parish. They obey the Church authorities and contribute financially to the maintenance of the parish priests and activities (Dolan, 1985). The laity's involvement in the parish is primarily directed and supervised by the parish priests. The laity are in the parish to help the priests.

However, the Second Vatican Council that took place from 1962-1965 brought a change in the importance of the laity in the Church. The laity as a "different caste" in the Church was changed by retrieving the Early Christian concept of the Church as a "people of God" (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Chapter 111). This concept, "people of God," incorporated all the baptized, the laity and clergy. The ritual or Sacrament of Bapfism was marked as the common denominator between the laity and clergy. As a result, the laity were encouraged to undertake tasks in the pansh on their own initiatives, reveal their particular needs and desires to the parish priests, and participate in the Church's Mission in the secular world, by reason of their knowledge and competence (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Chapter IV). As a result, the laity became more involved than they had been before Vatican H. They help with the activities connected with the Liturgy, which were considered the sole domain of the priests: the reading from the Scriptures and the distribution of








4

Communion. They conduct Communion-service (a devotional practice of prayer in which the Scripture is read and consecrated host is given out to the communicants) in the parish church, when there is no priest available to celebrate the Niass. They participate in the parish democratic structures such as Parish Council and Finance Council. They take the initiative to form small voluntary groups for a specific purpose, such as prayer, Bible study, and hospital ministry.

Several researchers have studied the lay activities in the parish. Some attributed the laity's greater involvement in the parish to the decrease in number of priests (Schoenherr & Sorenson, 1982; Gilmore, 1986). Some ascribed lay ministry to the ideology rooted in the ritual of Baptism, which calls for a shared responsibility in the Church (Hardon,1981; Whitehead, 1986). Still, others interpreted lay participation in the parish as an accommodation to the democratic trend in the society (Gleason, 1970; Lenski & Lenski, 1987; Seidler & Myer, 1989). All this indicates that in the past three decades, lay involvement in Catholic parishes has emerged as a topic of scientific inquiry.

There is, however, a new emerging phenomenon I observed in Catholic parishes that remains relatively unexamined. I call this phenomenon the 'lay specialists." These are specialists in the parishes who do not belong to the clan of the ordained specialists (priests). I observed this phenomenon, lay persons assigned to specialized roles in a parish, during the three years (1990-1993) 1 worked in St. Benedict parish as a priest. During these years, I completed my course work for the








5

doctoral degree in anthropology at the University of Florida and began in 1994 this research on lay specialists in four Catholic parishes in Gilmer, a pseudonymous Florida community. Lay specialists work in the parish, but do not belong to the category of parish lay volunteers. They are males and females, married or singJe, employed full-time or part-time in the parishes. The majority have formal education and training with certification in some traditions of Catholicism; others have special skills for the work in the parish. They perform several specialized tasks for which being ordained with the Sacrament of Holy Orders was once considered necessary. My observations of their work led me to document both change and continuity in the four Catholic parishes in Gilmer. I found change in the fact that there are lay specialists mediating between people and religion. Traditionally, priests were the primary religious specialists who taught theology, provided preparations for the Sacraments, gave spiritual direction, counseled families and individuals with severe relational problems, assisted the sick and dying, led liturgical celebration, and administered parish personnel and volunteers. Now, the majority of these specialized tasks are performed by the lay specialists. The dynamics of interaction between parishioners and priests have changed. The priests' direct contact with the parishioners is substantially narrowed to the celebration of Mass and Sacraments. Parish lay volunteers, who used to work under the direction and supervision of the priests, are working now under the lay specialists.








6

Research Questions and General ILypQtheses

These observations led me further to ask the following research questions: who are the lay specialists? How are they differentiated from the laity? What is the nature of their tasks in the parish? What are the domains of their services to the parishioners? What are the impacts of their specialized tasks in the parish? These questions led me to formulate the following general guiding assumptions:

1) Catholic parish organization is threatened by breakdown in families, disappearance of Catholic education, and erosion in distinctive Catholic beliefs and practices. Such a situation demands "specialized services" rather than the "general services" in the parishes traditionally given by the priests. The lay specialists meet such demands by their expertise in a particular area of specialization.

2) Lay specialists' specialized services increase parishioners' involvement and financial contributions to the parish. These, in return, necessarily contribute to the stability and/or survival of the parish.

Theoretical Perspective

The following is a brief discussion of the theoretical underpinnings that guided my study. I based my analysis on Human Materialism as formulated by Paul Magnarella (1993) as a strategy for analyzing sociocultural systems. Although this strategy contains the vestiges of several traditions of scholars, such as Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Claude Livi-Strauss, Marvin Harris, and Alfred Adler, it logically integrates the different elements of their work








7

to address three central problems: 1) how ongoing sociocultural systems finiction, 2) why they function as they do, and 3) how they change through time.

Magnarella (1993) pointedly explains that "the human materialist conception of a sociocultural system contains an asymmetric structure comprised of infirastructural, social structural, and superstructural components" (p. 4). The infrastructure consists of three substructures: material, human, and social. The material infrastructure includes technology, tools, machinery, productive capital equipment, modes of production, and the productively relevant parts of science, as well as environmental resources and factors. The human infrastructure includes demographics of the people. The social infimtructure includes the effective ownership and control of the forces of production, as well as the persons in positions of economic and political power and the positions they hold.

The social structure includes all forms of social organization: family and kinship organization, political, religious, economic organization, and work relations. The superstructure includes the ideologies, rituals, and symbols associated with various organizations in the social structure and those of rival or alternative ideologies, rituals, and symbols espoused by rival, minority, or marginal members of the Population. One of the most basic tenets of Human Materialism is the dynamism that is operative within, between, and among the three major components.

Human Materialism as a strategy is used here to analyze the four Catholic parishes as sociocultural systems. These parishes function and change through the









8
responses they make to the human problem domains such as the drive to satisfy hunger, spouse/partner or parent/child bonding, a need for social or religious affiliation and identity, feelings of love, hostility, pride, shame and sorrow, loneliness, and the parishioner's susceptibility to indoctrination by ideologies. Catholic parishes are open systems. They respond to cultural or environmental intrusions by elaborating their structures to more complex levels. According to Darwinian principle, any system that is non-adaptive runs the risk of extinction. It is a basic assumption that people would behave to further their own well-being by optimizing perceived benefits, be they material, affective, or spiritual (Magnarella, 1993). In this study, I attempt to show that the changes which have occurred in the Catholic parishes correspond to the degree of responses made by the individual parishes to the problems that threaten the infrastructural component of the parish. I show how these changes are validated by the ideologies of Vatican IL.

Human Materialismn is positivistic and scientific in its approach. Human beings are conceptualized as rational, cost/benefit calculating, emotional, loving, and hating. They are social beings capable of being indoctrinated to some degree in ideological, ritual, and symbolic systems which, in turn, influence their thought, behavior, and perceptions of their natural and sociocultural environments. I have observed, measured, and described such human characteristics or behaviors in this study.








9

The SurLcy Design

The purpose of my survey design is to generalize from a sample to a population so that inferences can be made about some attitude, or behavior, and belief of this population. From my preliminary interviews with the parishioners in 1994, 1 found that the lay specialists' services were in two areas: 1) human and 2) spiritual. They help the parishioners with relational, emotional, and personal problems such as spouse/partner, self-worth/esteem, and loneliness. In the spiritual realm, the lay specialists' help includes the religious education, the practices, and the beliefs of the parishioners. Therefore, my survey design is intended primarily to identify the human problems, the religious beliefs, and practices of a sample Catholic group and later to test if there is any noticeable impact of the lay specialists' services on the parishioners' involvement in the parish, adherence to religious beliefs and practices, and financial contributions. A cross-sectional survey was used to determine the sample populations' human problems, religious beliefs and practices, involvement in the parish, and financial contribution.

The sites of this study were four Catholic parishes, St. Thomas, St. Benedict, St Justin, and St Francis, a Florida community with a population of approximately 97,700. These parishes (the names of which are fictitious) differ in demographics: St. Thomas is the oldest parish in town with a large retired and elderly population. St. Benedict is a parish as well as student center, it tends to focus on the spiritual growth of the faculty and students from the two major educational institutions in town, a








10

university and a community college. The remaining two parishes, St. Justin and St. Francis, have predominantly families and children. These four parishes differ in the percentages of parish tasks performed by lay specialists: St. Thomas has the least (18.2%), St. Benedict has the largest (65.2%), and St. Justin and St. Francis have the same level (42.9%). These variations that I found in the demographic factors and the tasks of the lay specialists add an element of comparative depth to this research.

The selection of a sample group from each parish was based on availability of the parishioners and their convenience. In my preliminary interviews with the pastors of the parishes, I learned that the parish records that keep the memberships of the parishioners do not match the actual attendance of the people in the Church. That is to say, more people attend the Church than what the membership records indicates. It is estimated that only about 70% of the Church attendees register their names in the parish. And those who are registered do not infonn the parish office when they change their addresses and telephone numbers. Besides, registered Catholics have the option of going to any parish they like in or out of town. Considering these issues in the selection of a sample population from four parishes, I used the following method. I administered the questionnaire only to those Catholics aged 18 and older, who attended Mass on one weekend in each of the four parishes. I chose a time period when there was the least amount of distraction in town, such as a football game, an art festival, or a parade. I assumed that those who attend these weekend Masses are in the habit of attending Mass on Sundays. My assumption was supported by survey








11

results. A vast majority (84%) of those who participated in the survey indicated that they attend Mass weekly. The distribution of weekend Masses in Gilmer is as follows: St Thomas 3, St. Benedict 6, St. Justin 5, and St. Francis 3. All in all, attendees at 17 weekend Masses were asked to be voluntary participants in the questionnaire. The participants had two options. They could either fill out the questionnaire immediately after the Mass in the parish community hall or rooms (pencils and questionnaires were kept ready there) or take a questionnaire home, then mail it to me in the postagepaid envelope. The total number of participants was 1,293. The distribution by parish was as follows: St. Thomas 203, St. Benedict 404, St. Justin 393, and St. Francis 293. Of the respondents, 1, 190 (92%) filled out the questionnaires soon after the weekend Masses, and 103 (8%) took the questionnaires home and mailed them back to me (220 questionnaires were taken home, but only 103 were returned). There were no noticeable differences in the responses to the questionnaires between those that were filled out in the community hall or rooms and those that had been taken home and returned by mail. It is possible that those who took them home spent more time to respond to the questionnaire. However, there was no evident difference in them except that some were more legible. In interpreting these data, it must be remembered that the sample consists of Catholics who actually attend Mass. Catholics who rarely or never attend Mass are not in my sample. It can be presumed that their levels of belief and observance are lower than the levels found in my sample.








12

One might attribute the good turnout to the survey to my status as a Catholic priest While I agree there may be some element of truth to this, I do not attribute the willingness of the people only to my status. Gilmer is considered a college town with thousands of students and faculty who are constantly involved in surveys and interviews. I was informed that the Catholic parishes are often targeted for interviews and surveys among the parishioners. People in parishes are used to filling out questionnaires and to helping the students who pursue serious study. I interpret the large number of the people who participated in my survey as simply showing compassion and regard for research students. My interpretation that I did not receive special attention is supported by the number of return-mail questionnaires. Of those 220 questionnaires that were taken home, only 103 were returned to me. "Priestly status" was not operative as an influence here, but, I think for sure, there was compassion.

Instrumentation

The instrument used in data collection was self-designed after a series of preliminary interviews (18 in total) with different groups, the parishioners, lay specialists, and parish priests. I used the method of participant observation in as many aspects (religious, social, small group, large gatherings) of parish community activities as possible. I conducted scheduled in-depth interviews with the lay specialists and recorded their stories on a total of 15 tapes. I interviewed the priests to learn about the dynamics of interactions between the lay specialists and the








13

parishioners. The priests and the lay specialists became accustomed to my paper, pencil, and questions, and they seemed accustomed to the possibility of an impromptu interview. I recorded my observations and thoughts in the journal I kept and updated it periodically. I clipped newspaper and magazine articles to present national data on human problems, religious beliefs, and practices.

For the purpose of this study, I formulated the following eight variables that I considered important based on my observations: 1) demographic factors, 2) religious beliefs, 3) religious practices, 4) human problems, 5) parishioners' involvement in the parish, and 6) parishioners' weekly financial contribution to the parish, 7) lay specialists as "examples" for the parishioners, and 8) parishioners' satisfaction with lay specialists' services. A copy of the questionnaire appears in the Appendix.

Demographic factors in the study consisted of the most common independent research variables: parish, gender, age, education, Catholic education, marital status, and income. Gender emerged as a predictor of noticeable differences in human problems, religious beliefs and practices, parishioners' involvement in the parish, and lay specialists' as examples. Age was correlated with differences in human problems, religious beliefs and practices, parishioners' involvement in the parish, and lay specialists as examples. The variable education also covaried with differences in human problems and lay specialists as examples. Catholic education was treated as a variable to measure noticeable differences in lay specialists as examples. The variable marital status was treated to find significant differences in human problems








14

and lay specialists as examples. Income was a predictable variable for parishioners' seeking help from the lay specialists and making financial contributions to the parish.

My measure of religious beliefs, taken from the official teaching of the Catholic Church, consists of 13 items divided into three categories: 1) five items related to the core beliefs (nature of the spirit world), 2) six items related to ethical and moral beliefs, and 3) two items related to traditional Church practices. Religious beliefs were analyzed by the independent variables, gender and age group. The purpose of analysis was to indicate the levels of beliefs of the sample group. The strategy of analysis is presented in Chapter 4. It was assumed that religious beliefs are important for people who seek meaning and understanding about human problems as well as to maintain an identity in the religion.

Religious practices in this study represent the universal practices of the Church in parishes. They consist of 17 items, divided into three categories: 1) three items in the core Catholic Sacraments, 2) eight items in the Catholic sacramental, and 3) six items in the general Christian practices. Religious practices were analyzed by the independent variables, gender and age group. The purpose of analysis was to indicate the levels of practices among the sample population. Chapter 5 presents the strategy employed for the analysis of religious practices. It was assumed that religious practices are expressions of beliefs; they are important to persons seeking comfort and strength from religion. These persons who interact with the lay specialists on human








15

problems also are helped in their beliefs and practices. The religious beliefs and practices constitute the religious setting for the parishioners' Christian spirituality.

The list of 14 human problems in this study represent the major life problems named by the sample population. In order to strengthen the face validity of these items, I repeated the fist of problems three times to investigate: 1) whether a particular itern has been a probleni, 2) whether they had sought help from the lay specialists or priests on that particular problem, and 3) whether they engaged in prayer about that particular problem. Human problems are analyzed by parish, gender, age group, education, and marital status. The purpose of my analysis was to indicate the level of problems confronted by the sample population, as well as the means of help they seek through prayer and help of the lay specialists. The help of the lay specialists (as well as of the priests) on human problems is indicated in this study by other terms such as "interactions" and "services." I use "interaction" with the lay specialists that took Place on the occasions of human problems as an independent variable to measure the influence or impact of lay specialists on respondents' involvement in the parish programs, adherence to religious beliefs and practices, and financial contributions. Human problems constitute the sociocultural setting for the parishioners' Christian spirituality.

The instrument to measure parishioners' involvement in the parish consists of 14 items, each representing a Program presently operating in the sample Catholic parishes. These items were analyzed by parish, gender, and age group to indicate the








16

degree of involvement in each parish by gender and age group. The influence of lay specialists on respondents' involvement in the parish was measured by the independent variable "lay index" (levels of interactions with the lay specialists on human problems). I created the variable "priest-index" for comparative purposes to examine whether the respondents interacted more with the lay specialists or priests concerning their problems. A comparative analysis is presented between the findings on these two variables.

The respondents financial contributions could conceptually be considered part of respondents' involvement in the parishes. I have treated it separately. The analysis required looking at three elements: 1) the mean weekly contribution in each sample parish, 2) the mean weekly contribution of those who sought help from the parish, and 3) the mean weekly contribution of the respondents in relation to the income categories. The purpose of this analysis was to find 1) the difference in contribution between those who sought help and those who did not seek help from the parish, 2) which income category interacts with the lay specialists, and 3) future trends (prediction) between seeking help from the pariA and financial contribution.

The item, lay specialists, as "examples" for the parishioners, was measured and analyzed in two parts: 1) as examples for seeking greater involvement in the parish and 2) as examples for seeking a connection between daily life experiences and faith traditions. The analysis includes the variables parish, gender, and age group. The purpose of analysis was to indicate the levels of appreciation of the positions of lay








17

specialists in the parishes. It was assumed that an "exemplary" way of giving services would elicit a sense of appreciation from those who benefit from the services.

The parishioners' satisfaction was measured and analyzed in the following two steps: 1) those who had an opinion on 16 items of services of the lay specialists and 2) among thosewho had an opinion, differentiating the satisfied from the dissatisfied The strategy for analysis includes rating scales. The purpose is to indicate the level of parishioner satisfaction about the services of lay specialists in the sample parishes. In the tradition of anthropology, evaluation of a program is carried out to determine if that program is satisfactory to the recipients.

Organization of the S9*

I organized my data in keeping with my objectives. Chapter 2 presents the infrastructure components of the four Catholic parishes from where this research sample was collected The demographic factors are presented in order to highlight the significant differences of the four sample parishes. A brief history of lay persons' involvement in Catholic parishes in the United States is presented. The socioeconomic profile of each sample parish calls for specific kinds of services from the parish specialists (lay specialists as well as the priests). The validating ideologies of the Second Vatican Council presented in this chapter are crucial in explaining the laity's involvement in the parishes today.

Chapter 3 presents the human problems of the sample population. Social forces affect every population or group of people; Catholics are not exempted. They share









18

in the human problems of the society. I indicate the major human problems of the research sample. These problems differ according to the demographic factors. Some problems are gender based, others are centered on age. Education and marital status have a special relation to particular problems. Males, females, and persons of different age groups and status seek help on human problems from the parish specialists.

In Chapter 4, 1 present the religious beliefs of the sample population. Religious beliefs are assumed to give identity to a particular religious group, differentiating it from other religious groups. A strong religious belief provides a meaning or understanding of life experience. I present Catholic beliefs under three categories to indicate that all beliefs add to the Catholic identity of the parishioners. The impact of environmental forces is seen in the beliefs of the sample population. The Catholic parishes offer services to maintain Catholic beliefs and to interpret human problems in light of them.

Chapter 5 traces the religious practices of the sample population. Religious practices are meaningftd (at least emically) only in terms of the beliefs one possesses in life. A strong belief is assumed to increase the intensity of one's religious practices and a weak belief to lessen the interest in religious practices. I present the religious practices of the sample population under three categories: some are core Catholic beliefs, which give a distinct Catholic identity to the believer; some are Catholic









19

sacramentals, which are primarily devotional practice; and some are general Christian practices, which are practiced by people of other Christian denominations.

Chapters 6, 7, and 8 are the crucial parts of this research. Lay specialists and their specialized services are the nucleus of these chapters. In Chapter 6, I present a descriptive definition of the lay specialists from three perspectives: specialization, recognition, and remuneration. The case examples from the lay specialists highlight some of their special characteristics in the parishes. All four sample parishes have lay specialists, but not in the same numbers. On the basis of the essential tasks performed by the lay specialists, parishes are grouped into three types: Type One--Traditional parish, Type Two--Transitional parish, and Type Three--Transformed parish. The tasks of the lay specialists and the dynamics of interaction between them and the priests differ in each type of parish.

Chapter 7 presents an ethnographic detail about what the lay specialists are actually doing in the parishes. I have presented the specific roles of the lay specialists that I found in the sample parishes in the following areas: liturgy, spirituality, religious education, marriage and family, music, youth, and the rite of Christian initiation of adults (RCIA). The descriptive presentation of the individual tasks of the lay specialists explains how they are helping the parishioners with human problems, and contributing to the personal Christian spirituality of the respondents.

In Chapter 8, 1 address the important question about the lay specialists in the sample parishes: Does the presence of these lay specialists exert any impact on the








20

religious lives of the parishioners? My strategy for answering the question is explained. As indicated above, "interaction" with the lay specialists on human problems is treated as the independent variable. Several aspects of the religious life of the respondents, such as their involvement in parish programs, adherence to religious beliefs and practices, and financial contributions are treated as dependent variables. The "theoretical framework" of my choice of these dependent variables derives from the two ideologies of the Second Vatican Council. From the ideologies, I have identified two domains that serve as the dependent variables: 1) the parishioners' involvement in the parishes and 2) the parishioners' adherence to their Christian spirituality through their daily life. Through analysis of my survey data, I present the answer to the question of whether the presence of the lay specialists impacts parishioners in 1) their involvement in the parish and 2) their personal Christian spirituality. The parishioners' financial contributions are analyzed in terms of their interactions with the lay specialists. Though lay specialists differ from the parishioners, they share in the same "vocation" of the parishioners. I assumed that their positions of service in the parish would be examples to the parishioners. This assumption was tested and analyzed by two statements: 1) the lay specialists are examples for seeking a greater involvement in the parish and 2) the lay specialists are examples for seeking a connection between life experiences and faith traditions. As a final analysis, I present the results of the parishioners' satisfaction with the services








21

of the lay specialists. The level of satisfaction was drawn only firom the parishioners who had formed some opinions about the services.

In Chapter 9, 1 present the findings of this sample research with the consideration of the likely trends in the Catholic parishes in the United States. Are the parishioners more likely to get involved in the parishes, if they interact with the lay specialists? Does the lay specialists' services in the parishes increase the financial contributions of the parishioners? Would the services of the lay specialists impact parishioners' Christian spirituality? Do the parishioners consider lay specialists as their examples to commit more to the parish and find meaning between fife experiences and faith traditions (beliefs and practices). Does parishioners' satisfactory level match the number of essential tasks performed by the lay specialists in the parishes? Through analysis of my survey data I have answered these questions in this chapter. I conclude this chapter with a pragmatic question: Do the parishes need the lay specialists? My conclusions are positive because the positions of lay specialists in the survey parishes 1) give specialized services to the parish individuals and families, 2) cause greater involvement of the parishioners, and 3) increase the weekly financial contribution in the parish.

This study has been fascinating to me because of my own ministry as an ordained specialist. My life as a graduate student and work in a parish offered me opportunities to learn and to observe the changes that are currently taking place in the Catholic parishes in the Unites States. Among the several changes I observed in the








22

States, this change, namely the emerging phenomenon of lay specialists in the parishes, touches the very core of the parish organization: the infrastructure (parishioners, their involvement in the parish, and their financial contribution), and the superstructural (their faith traditions: beliefs and practices) components. The lay specialists' influences on the above components were researched, tested, and analyzed for this study. This study indicates a "direction of change" that is taldng place in the social structural components of Catholic parish organization. The study contributes to the body of anthropological literature in "development studies" which has an element of cultural and comparative depth. Religious identity of an organization can be threatened by the environmental forces changing organizational customs and beliefs. The emergence of lay specialists in the Catholic parishes could contribute to the stability and/or survival of the organization and to the preservation of distinct identity of the organization. Although it would have been interesting to compare the beliefs and practices of Catholics to those of members of other Christian groups in the community, this was not possible in view of the total absence of comparative data.













CHAPTER 2
SOCIOECONOMIC PROFILE OF THE CATHOLIC RESEARCH SANTLE


Historical Antecedents

The Catholic Parish

The Catholic parish, a geographic division, is perceived as the community of Christian faithful who hold common religious beliefs and participate in the celebration of rituals known as Sacraments. The parish church is a place where they gather regularly on Sundays and special days of religious obligation to participate in the Mass that is upheld as the center of the Catholic religion. The most recent code of Canon Law, 1983, defined the Catholic parish as a certain community of Christ's faithful stably established within a particular Church (which means the diocese) whose pastoral care, under the authority of the diocesan bishop, is entrusted to a priest as its proper
pastor. (Canon Law. 515, p.92)

This definition has three possible elements for understanding the Catholic parish: 1) The parish is a community of Christian faithful; 2) the parish has a stable basis in a diocese; thus it is linked to the authority of the bishop, the chief of the diocese; 3) the parish is under the authority of a "pastor," which in Latin means shepherd.




23








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Membership in the Catholic Church comes through the Sacrament of Baptism received either as a child or as an adult. If a person already baptized in other Christian denominations wishes to become a Catholic, he or she is received into the Catholic Church through a comprehensive process called the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), which I describe later. Membership in a local parish is determined either by residency within the territory of a parish and/or by a formal registration. During my initial interviews with the local parish pastors, I learned that only about 60% of the parishioners usually register their names in the parishes. Membership in a local parish does not prohibit anyone from frequenting the other parishes. In fact, to the survey question, "What parish do you belong to?" an average of 10 persons in each parish, about 3% of the respondents, had said that they belong to the "othee'-that is, to a parish that is not within the survey area. Some of them had written the name of the parish to which they belong, From the names of such parishes, it was easy to determine that the respondents had come from the neighboring Catholic parishes situated within 30 to 50 miles from Gilmer. However, for the reception of Sacraments such as Marriage and children's Baptism, Catholics customarily approach the parish which they claim as their own.

The parish is not thought of as existing apart from the diocese. Normally, a parish covers a specified geographical territory of the diocese, and it serves all the faid" of that territory. However, the Catholic Church allows the establishment of non-territorial parishes by reason of the rite, language, or nationality of the faithfid








25

of a certain territory (Canon Law, 518). A cluster of parishes and its chief, the bishop, make up the diocese.

The priest, known as the pastor, is in charge of the parish. He carries out his role as the spiritual leader of the parish, as spelled out in the Canonical language: by teaching, sanctifying, and ruling in collaboration with the other priests and lay members in the parish (Canon Law, 519). The terms teaching, sanctifying, and ruling denote the triple responsibilities of the pastor who 1) transmits the teachings of the Church to his parishioners through homilies, religious education, and adult education; 2) administers the Sacraments that are specified for the different life cycles of the parishioners; and 3) manages the parish properties, such as the church, office buildings, rectory, and school. The pastor may be assisted by one or several other priests who were formally called curates and are now known as parochial vicars. Besides, the pastor may have a lay staff that usually consists of a secretary, a religious education director, a music director, and a sacristan who take care of the material things and arrangements for the celebration of Sacraments.

The lay members (laity) make up the congregation of the parish. The Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) has highlighted the importance of the laity in the parish. The Council has construed the laity's role as to 1) seek greater participation for the Church Mission in the secular world according to their abilities and the needs of the time; 2) reveal with freedom and confidence their particular needs and desires; 3) undertake tasks on their own initiative for the good of the Church; 4) give prudent








26

advice to pastors; 5) propose suggestions and manifest their opinions by reason of their particular knowledge, competence, or outstanding ability on those things which pertain to the good of the Church (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Chapter IV). The history of Catholicism in the United States shows that the laity were involved in the service of the Catholic parishes long before the Second Vatican Council. For the immigrant Catholics, the parish was a stable base in which to live and work. They could preserve their ethnic identity, and practice their religion. Therefore, before I present the socioeconomic profile of the four survey parishes, I delineate some of the salient features which mark the history of Catholicism as well as the lay involvement in the Catholic parishes in the United States. Early Ethnic Catholicism: Lay Involvem

Mstorians have evidence showing that Catholicism was first brought to what is now the United States by the Spanish Missionaries, headed by the explorer Juan Ponce Leon. The first parish was established in Florida in 1565 at St. Augustine (Gannon, 1983; McNally, 1984). The Spanish Missionaries worked for the next two centuries among the Indians and established missions across the southern and western regions of the country. The French Missionaries, who traveled south from Canada, converted the Indians to Catholicism in the Northeastern and Nfidwestern States (Watch, 1989). The lasting legacy of these Spanish and French Missionaries is seen in a string of missions that have become the sites for major American modem cities








27

such as Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, San Antonio, New Orleans, St. Louis, and San Francisco, among others (Dolan, 1985).

The English Catholics who suffered persecution in the Church of England escaped at the risk of perilous ocean voyage and established a settlement in Maryland in 1634. This New World colony for English Catholics seems to have enjoyed a large measure of religious freedom. The denominational equality was codified by the Maryland Assembly in several laws cuhninating in the "Act Concerning Religion" of 1649 (Walch, 1989). Historians view this Act as an important step in the long struggle for religious freeborn in this country. In 1654 a Puritan-dominated assembly repealed the toleration act of 1649. Several Catholics were put to death, and the Jesuit priests who served these Catholics were persecuted. Although a little measure of religious tolerance was restored in 1660, it did not endure. In 1688 the Anglican Church was established as the state church of Maryland.

The place of Catholicism in colonial Maryland was not a public affair. There were no churches or parishes. Catholics gathered in homes and attended Sunday Masses celebrated by the Jesuit missionaries. Common religious practices on Sundays and holy days created a bond by which they trusted one another, intermarried, supported businesses and thus collectively supported the Church. The typical Catholic community was rural and consisted of twelve to twenty families that lived close to one another. However, the Catholic communities in Maryland began to increase in size as well as in visibility during the eighteenth century. By the eve of the American








28

Revolution in 1776, the Catholic Church had become an institution in Maryland (Walch, 1989).

The American Revolution brought about changes in the status of Catholics. Both Catholics and non-Catholics united to seek independence from England. Military assistance to the colonies which fought the British armies was provided by Catholic France. According to Walch (1989) men like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson detested bigotry of any kind; they attacked religious prejudice generally and anti-Catholicism specifically, for the colonies were to be a new nation based on the principle that all people are equal.

With the end of the war in 1783, Catholics were free to practice their faith without any fear or domination from outside. They were "Americans." In order to strengthen their unity and preserve their identity as American Catholics, the Pope appointed Father John Carroll in 1784 as Superior of the American Catholic Missions (Dolan, 1985). Carroll responded to the needs of the renewed interest in Catholicism and formed new Catholic parishes. As the European seminaries found it difficult to meet the demand for priests in America, Carroll proposed to establish a national Catholic academy and seminary. At the same time, Carroll encouraged the laity to take a greater role in the affairs of the parishes.

The laity undertook many of the tasks necessary to meet the temporal needs of the parishes. They were involved in the organization and the government of parish communities. Many Catholic communities elected leadership committees, collected









29

funds, purchased land, constructed church buildings, and provided for their maintenance (Walch, 1989).

This "congregation-model" which was operative among their Protestant neighbors in matters of church administration was known also as the lay trustee system of parish government. This model, however, created friction between lay trustees and bishops because it was a substantial shift from the way the Roman Catholic church traditionally operated Since Roman Catholic custom and law gave that authority exclusively to bishops, very serious conflicts between lay trustees and bishops, often resulting in excommunication, interdict, and schism, developed throughout the Northeast (Dolan, 1985).

The laity committed themselves to the establishment and support of ethnic parochial schools. Catholics felt the need to have Catholic schools in order to attain their chosen goals: 1) protection of the religiosity and ethnicity of Catholic children and 2) reinforcement of the positive self-identity of Church and home (McAvoy, 1968). For these reasons the immigrant Catholics contributed their hard-earned dollars for the establishment and support of parochial schools (Walch, 1989). Besides the parochial schools in their national parishes, the immigrants preserved their cultural heritage by having their own theaters, recreational activities, amusements, trade unions, and charitable institutions (Dolan, 1985). However, the changes that were taking place in both church and society challenged the Catholics to make a shift from ethnic interest to American Catholicism.








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From Ethnic CWholicism to American Catholici

The year 1789 was marked by two important events that profoundly affected the course of American Catholicism in the United States. In April, George Washington became the first President of the United States and under his administration religious liberty as one of the principles of Bill of Rights was codified. On November 16, the Vatican appointed John Carroll as the first Catholic bishop in the United Sates (Dolan, 1985; Walch, 1989).

Bishop Carroll committed himself to the education of future clergy and lay leaders. He established Georgetown Academy in 1789 and called upon the Catholics to support the institution. It was his hope that the institution would mold lay leaders who would return home and educate other Catholics both by word and example. With the arrival of the Sulpician priests in the United States, Carroll planned to establish a seminary. In 1791, he opened St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore to educate native clergy under the administration of the Sulpicion missionary priests.

The arrival of hish and German Catholic immigrants in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia increased the need for more dioceses and priests. In 1808, Baltimore was made the archdiocese and new dioceses were established at Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Bardstown in frontier Kentucky (Dolan, 1985). The shortage of priests in the dioceses was compensated for by the emerging communities of women's religious orders such as the Daughters of Charity, the Visitafion Sisters, the Carmelites, and the Sisters of Loretto. Several religious orders responded to requests








31

to establish schools in the parishes and to found other social institutions like hospitals and asylums.

Dramatic demographic shifts took place during the mid-nineteenth century because of the tremendous influx of immigrants from Ireland and Germany. Walch (1989) documented the impact on cities as immigrants tended to settle in certain areas. For example, by 1850 the Irish settled in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. When the railroads moved West to the cities of Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, and Milwaukee, so also the Irish moved. They helped to build railroads that connected these cities with the East. The Germans settled in the socalled "German Triangle"--the region roughly bordered by the cities of Cincinnati, St. Louis, and Milwaukee. For the majority of these immigrants, the Catholic parish was the focal point of their religious practices, as well as preserving their native language and culture. The organization of Catholicism in general during the nineteenth century mirrored the ethnic and social composition of the population.

Such organization of Catholicism precipitated challenges and crisis in several dioceses. The bishops provided leadership in national church issues such as liturgical and ecclesial practices in the United States. They gave specific guidance to the laity on social issues. However, there was tension between the role of the laity and the authority of the bishops. According to the lay trustee-system, the laity had exerted substantial power over local church matters. They bought land, built churches and schools, and petitioned local bishops for the appointment of pastors of their own








32
nationality. Often they retained fide to Church property, being unwilling to give up their control to the bishops. Therefore, the bishops met in councils "to standardize Church procedure and to remind the laity of the centrality of episcopal authority; the unstated purpose was to emphasize that American Catholicism could rise above regional differences to sustain itself as a national denomination" (Walch, 1989). As a result, a gradual shift from the congregation-model to the clerical-model took place. Walch (1989) reported that by 1885 American bishops controlled church property and the appointment of bishops.

The Third Plenary Council of 1884 authorized the compilation of a national catechism and the establishment of a national Catholic university. Of prime importance was that they instructed the laity to support parish schools.

All Catholic parents are to send their children to the parish school, noted the decree, unless it is evident that a sufficient training in religion is given either in the homes or in other Catholic schools. Those parishes without schools were to build schools within two years.
(Walch, 1989, p.45)

The Congress of the United States passed an Immigration Quota Act in 1924 which ended the massive immigration of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (Dolan, 1985). The task of transforming the immigrants into American citizens was left to the schools, the social agencies, and the churches. As Henry Steele Commager said, the Catholic Church was an effective agency for democracy and Americanization. The Catholic Church in the United States embraced the American









33

concepts of business administration. As a consequence, on the national level, the bishops expanded their National Catholic Welfare Conference to become their administrative arm and to provide a national voice for their collective concerns. On the local level, a new generation of bishops used modem administrative and business practices to restructure and reorganize their diocesan work The Catholic hierarchy inaugurated a concerted campaign for Americanization during and after World War I By the end of the Second World War Catholics thought of themselves as Americans of Irish or Italian descent rather than as hish-Americans or Italian-Americans (Walch, 1989). This new sense of identity strengthened American Catholicism and led to a revival in the 1940s and 1950s.

The Catholic family movement, later known as the Cana Conference, began in St Louis, in 1941. Its purpose was "to integrate the mundane aspects of family fife within a twentieth-century mentality both American and spiritual" (MacEoin, 1991, p.62). The Cana Conference was enriched by the Christian Family Movement to focus on the issues related to the family. In the 1950s, new Catholic parishes and schools were established. Religious devotion, public piety, and vocations increased.

According to Walch (1989) and Dolan (1985), Catholics of all ages attended Mass and participated in religious exercises in extraordinary numbers. Young couples participated in the Cana Conference and the Christian Family Movement to strengthen the spiritual life within the home. Catholics, generally, were moved by stories of








34

religious conversion and missionary work that appeared in the Catholic newspapers, books, and magazines that many Catholics received in their homes each week

The years between the 1950s and 1960s are considered to be a pivotal period in the history of American Catholicism. Socioeconomic mobility and educational achievement, especially since the end of the World War 111, brought affluence in the life of the Catholics. "Young Catholic veterans returned from war to attend college, win well-paidjobs with American corporations, buy homes in the suburbs, build new parishes, and participate in community Whirs" (Walch, 1989, p.75). The parish was the center around which several spiritual and social organizations were established for the laity. Some of the more popular organizations were called the Altar Society, the Rosary Society, and the Holy Name Society. These societies developed their own constitutions and regulations, which spelled out their obligations to themselves and others (Dolan, 1985).

The above highlights of Catholic history in the United States show that the laity were involved in parish activities that were of religious and social character. The level of their involvement and the kinds of their activities were supervised by the pastors. The laity found support and a stable base in their parish communities. The Second Vatican Council that took place in 1960s not only highlighted the importance of the laity in the Church as we have seen above, but also introduced the ideologies that validated the involvement of the laity in the Church and called for ftu-ther collaboration and involvement in the Church.








35

Vatican 11: Emerp-ence of New Validatina Ideologies

Human Materialism (Magnarella, 1993) views "validating ideology" as a legitimating power. It satisfies the people concerned that what they are doing or what they are expected to do is legitimate. The Second Vatican Council pioneered two ideologies that legitimated the lay involvement and collaboration in the Church: 1) the Mission of the Church belongs to every baptized person; 2) everyone baptized is called to Christian Spirituality or Holiness. The significance and implication of these ideologies are discussed next.

1) The Mission of the Church belongs to every baptized person. Traditionally, the Mission of the Church was thought to be the hallmark of the priests and religious. Their work in the Church was seen as a "vocation" received from God. The duty of witnessing to Christ and Christian life in the world (i.e., the Mission) was considered the role of the "chosen" (priests and religious) by God. The laity were viewed as clients in the Church. They were considered as a different caste involved in the worldly affairs. The two terms "in the world" and "of the world" denoted the distinction between the clergy from laity. The clergy were seen as persons in the world but not of the world, whereas, the laity were seen to be in the world and of the world However, in the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church seems to have recognized that the successful Mission of the Church, namely the obligation of witnessing to Christ and Christian Life in the world, required the participation of the laity. The Council said of the laity:








36

They live in the world, that is, in each and in all of the secular professions and occupations. They live in the ordinary circumstances of fanifly and social life, from which the very web of their existence is woven. They are called there by God that by exercising their proper function and led by the Spirit of the Gospel, they may work for the sanctification of the world from within as a leaven. Therefore, since they are tightly bound up in all type of temporal affairs it is their special task to order and to throw light upon these affhirs in such as way that they may come into being and then continually increase according to Christ to the praise of the creator and the Redeemer.
(Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 3 1, p. 143)

This statement reveals an understanding of the nature of laity's role in the world It was recognized as a "call" or "vocation" from God just as the role of the priests and religious is a "vocation" from God. The laity's role in the Churches was to witness to Christ and Christian life in temporal affairs by ordering them according to the plan of God (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, No. 3 1).

The ideology of the Church's Mission was founded in the ritual of Baptism. Baptism is traditionally believed to bring a new birth and an incorporation into the Church symbolized as the Body of Christ. The Second Vatican Council brought deeper understanding of the significance of Baptism. AD who receive a Baptism share in Christ's threefold Mission to teach, to sanctify, and to govern (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, No. 31). This is called the Baptismal priesthood or Common priesthood, distinguished from the Ministerial priesthood received through the rituals of Holy Orders. Lay persons exercise their baptismal priesthood by their life of faith, hope, and charity in the particular situation of their family and fife (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1546-1547). From Vatican H, the Mission of








37

the Church has included the special roles of lay persons rooted fundamentally in the celebration of Baptism.

There were at least two implications of this ideology. First, Baptism confers equality of membership in the Church, which is a "people of God," a community, made up of all the fattliftil (Pope, bishops, priests, religious, laity). All members have a role to play in the Mission of the Church, but they give a diversity of services, each according to his or her vocation. Second, this baptismal unity was seen to be best expressed in the community celebration of the Sacraments, especially in the Mass. The laity was encouraged to take active participation in ways that are appropriate in the community celebration. Closely linked to the common Mission of the Church rooted in Baptism was the following ideology.

2) Everyone baptized is called to Christian Spirituality. The Catholic Church in the Second Vatican Council reinterpreted the conventional understanding of Christian Spirituality and the persons who acquire it. Christian Spirituality had been seen as an other-worldliness, which consisted primarily in denying the present life and concentrating on religious practices that would assure heaven. Those who embraced religious life by the vows of poverty, obedience, and celibacy were thought to be in a "state of perfection," while, by comparison, the lay people were thought to be in a less perfect state. However, the Church recognized that the impact of the celebration of Baptism is the new birth (a new state of perfection or initial Holiness)








38

and that everyone who has been baptized has the responsibility to grow in Christian Spirituality.

Thus it is evident to everyone, that all the faithfW of Christ of whatever rank or status, are called to the fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of charity. (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, No: 40,
p. 152)

The Church did not establish a single mode of growth in Spirituality. Rather it called the faithful to grow "unhesitatingly according to his or her own personal gifts and duties in the path of living faith, which arouses hope and works to charity" (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, No: 4 1, p. 152). However, the Church stated that "this plan for the spiritual life (Holiness) of the laity should take its particular character from their married or family state or their single or widowed state, from their state of health, and from their professional and social activity" (Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, No. 4, p.340).

The setting for the Spirituality of the laity shifted from traditional places such as shrines and pilgrim centers to work places, family homes, political offices, and communities. The laity were encouraged to experience God not only in prayer and Sacraments, but in all what goes on in life: the frustrations, tears, joys, laughter, feelings, and experiences of daily life (Foley, 1995). Accordingly, a shift occurred also from the traditional practices of piety such as novenas, rosary, fasting, and pilgrimages to reading the Bible, centering prayer, short term retreats, spiritual








39

reading, and helping others in need. The focus of these new practices was to discern God's presence in the "ordinary" things of life and to make connection between their faith and their daily life.

The Catholic Church in the 1960s legitimated the laity's role in the Mssion of the Church and Christian Spirituality, which were considered once the domains of the priests and religious. The Church juxtaposed the laity's role to the ritual celebration of baptism. If so, is there a uniformity of lay involvement and Spirituality in all the parishes of the Catholic Church? As I discuss later, we do not find such uniformity even in our four sample parishes. Then, one might ask, what is the use of such ideologies in the first place? From our theoretical paradigm, it is safe to assert that "a new ideology is introduced into a system's superstructure and stays there until it has been spread to and inculcated by some segment of the population" (Magnarella, 1993, p. 11). When these ideologies are spread and communicated to the faithful in all parishes, perhaps we may see homogeneous involvement of the laity. However, I think these ideologies, for the present justify the harnessing of human power (laity) in the Church's Mission and Christian Spirituality.

The purpose of this study is to examine the emerging phenomenon of lay specialists in the Catholic parishes. Who are they? What do they do in the parishes? Do they generate any influence in the parishes? Who are the recipients of their services? It is assumed that parishioners are the recipients of the lay specialists' services since they are employed as specialists in the parishes. While I keep the first








40

three questions for discussions in the following chapters, I present here a socioeconomic overview of the sample population in Gilmer. The sample was collected from the four Catholic parishes in Gilmer: St. Thomas, St. Benedict, St. Justin, and St. Francis.

Statistical Overview of Research S=We

St Thomas is the mother parish, founded in 1887. St Benedict was established in 1923 as a student center to serve the spiritual needs of the Catholic students and staff at the university. Due to an increased number of students and staff at the university and the community college, it became a full-pledged parish in 1969. St. Justin and St. Francis became parishes in 1973 and 1987, respectively, reflecting suburban growth in the community. The steady growth of the Catholic population in Gilmer resulted in the establishment of four Catholic parishes within the span of a century. In order to discuss the socioeconomic composition of the sample population, I have chosen the following variables: gender, age, education, Catholic schooling, marital status, and income. I discuss later if these variables would exert some impact on the respondents on their human problems, religious beliefs, practices, involvement in the parish activities, and contributions. I discuss the questionnaire strategy under each variable.

Distribution of Re=ndents W Gender

Several social surveys have been done on the gender differences in church attendance (Alston & McIntosh, 1979; Gee, 1991; Ploch & Hastings, 1994). Some of








41

TABLE I
Gender of Those Attending Mass, by Parish

Parish Male Female Total
St. Thomas 320 375 695
N 46.0 54.0 18.5
St. Benedict 540 645 1185
(0/0) 46.0 54.0 31.6
St. Justin 535 585 1120
N 47.6 52.4 29.9
St. Francis 360 390 750
N 48.0 52.0 20
Total 1,755 1,995 3,750
N 46.8 53.2




them affirm the conventional religious wisdom in America that women attend church more often than men. To provide some numbers, I randomly selected two Masses in each of our sample parishes and made a count of the gender of those attending, The count corroborated the conventional wisdom that more women than men attend church services. Of the 3,755 total parishioners whom I counted, 1995 were women, a majority of 53. 1%. The figures are broken down by parish in Table 1.

National figure levels indicated that on the average, 10% more women than men attend church services in the United States (Chadwick & Garrett, 1995). The preponderance of women attending church services in our survey parishes is only 3%. However, I found a larger percentage of women than men responding to my









42

TABLE
Gender of Respondents, by Parish

Parish Male Female Total
St. Thomas 72 127 199
N 36.2 63.8 15.5
St. Benedict 172 232 404
(0/0) 42.6 57.4 31.5
St. Justin 161 229 390
N 41.3 58.7 30.4
St. Francis 115 174 289
(0/0) 39.8 60.2 22.5
Total 520 762 1,282
N 40.6 59.4




questionnaire. Of the 1,282 respondents, 762 (59.4%) were women. The distribution is presented by parish in Table 2.

Does this greater representation of women in Mass attendance (and consequently response to the survey) hold across all other religious practices apart from Mass attendance? I explore that question in some detail below. One might be inclined to attribute this female bias in Mass attendance (and response to surveys) to the greater participatory roles that women have in Sunday Masses: lectors, alter servers, Eucharistic ministers, and ushers. This would be a rather tenuous analytic line to follow. It would appear rather that this preponderance of females is, in fact, a carryover from the past. Sociological studies demonstrate that women were more









43

attracted to Christianity than men in the early Christian communities (Stark, 1996). Woodward, a senior religion reporter for Newsweek says,

In a pagan society that disparaged women, undervalued marriage, and regularly resorted to abortion and infanticide, Christianity extolled marriage and family life, protected and enfranchised women as members of the community, denounced abortion as murder, and readily encouraged their surplus of women to take (and domesticate) pagan husbands, who were notoriously inhospitable to both marital fidelity and family creation.
(Woodward, 1996, p. 10)

In the United States, women have always made up the majority of Christian congregations (Douglas, 1977). As far as Catholicism is concerned, the greater number of roles of women in the parish ritual and administrative services may have some impact on the longstanding tradition of women to be more faithful in church attendance and activities than men.

Further, studies done on the cross-cultural sex differences in socialization try to construe female bias in religion in terms of cultural influences. A cross-cultural study by Barry, Bacon, and Child (1957) demonstrated that across I 10 cultures, little girls are almost always trained for nurturance, obedience, and responsibility, while boys are trained for self-reliance and independence. These sex-role differences seem to be reflected in the child's notion of God As a result, girls are more likely to picture God as loving, comforting, and forgiving, while boys are inclined to view God as a supreme power, forceful planner, and controller (Wright & Cox, 1967). From these studies, Batson and Ventis (1982) inferred that "females may be socialized to have








44

those personality characteristics that would lead them not only to raise existential questions but also to view God as able to meet their existential needs" (p. 40). These culturally incited characteristics could explain females' relatively greater involvement in religion. However, the modem trend toward gender equality that challenges traditional male and female roles could lead to a diminution of gender differences in the firture. In the survey parishes, males are almost as regular in their church attendance as females. The variable of gender in the survey did, in fact, prove to be a useful predictor of responses to other questions which I explored in this study, including religious beliefs and practices, attitudes toward lay specialists, and lay involvement in the parish. Males and females differ on these matters in the study.

-A=

The skewing is found not only in gender, but also in age. The survey respondents gave the year of their birth, from which their age is computed The mean age for St. Benedict is 36.3, St. Justin 48.2, St. Francis 49.5, and St. Thomas 52.2. The variation found in the mean age between St. Benedict and St. Thomas corresponds to the demographic composition of these parishes. St. Benedict has a large Catholic student population from the university, while St. Thomas has a large refired population. Table 3 presents the breakdown of the age groups of the survey sample.

I placed the respondents in three groups, using the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) as a reference point. Those respondents 55 and above are pre-Vatican









45

TABLE
Age of Survey Respondents, by Parish

Parish 18-34 35-54 55+ Total
St. Thomas 28 100 185 313
N 9.00 32.00 59.00 22.6
St. Benedict 185 173 40 398
(0/0) 46.48 43.47 10.05 28.8
St. Justin 100 133 151 384
N 26.04 34.64 39.32 27.8
St. Francis 55 123 109 287
N 19.16 42.86 37.98 20.8
Total 368 529 485 1,382
(%) 1 26.2 38.3 35.1 _j




IL those 35 to 54 are Vatican 11, and those 18 to 34 are post-Vatican H. I also refer to the older, middle-aged, and younger generations.

As we see from Table 3, our sample parishes present different age profiles. It is important to note that same number, 185, represented in St. Benedict and in St. Thomas. But it indicates in St. Benedict the post-Vatican H group and in St. Thomas the pre-Vatican 11 group. It confirms the demographic composition of these two parishes. Of the different percentages of the Vatican H generation, St. Benedict and St. Francis have the highest and St. Thomas has the lowest. This division of age groups helped to find the answer to the questions: Are there phenomenal differences









46

in matters of Catholic beliefs and practices among three generations? Who seeks the help of the lay specialists? These questions are explored in the next chapters. Educational Level

Several research studies have indicated the major role of education in the life and economy of individuals (Gallup & Castelli, 1987). A high correlation is established between educational level and socioeconomic status. Social scientists have questioned whether the patterns between educational level and religion would parallel those between socioeconomic status and religion. Burchinal (1959) and Gallup (1972) pointed out that an increased level of education correlated positively with church membership and attendance; that is, the higher one's education, the more likely that one is to attend weekly services. However, some other studies found a negative correlation between increased education and holding traditional religious belief (Feldman, 1969; Ford, 1960). That is, the higher one's education, the more likely that one is to attend weekly services, but not necessarily believe everything which the Church teaches. The Catholic Church, in general, promotes education as a means of transmitting values to ffiture generations. Some studies indicate that Catholics in general seem to place a slightly higher value on education than the Protestants. The percentage of Catholics with a college background has more than doubled in the past thirty years (Gallup & Castelli, 1987).

Gilmer is a university town that offers opportunities for higher education and employment. The majority of the students come from the state of Florida with a








47

TABLE
Level of Education of Respondents, by Parish

Parish High School Undergrad Grad school Doctoral Total St. Thomas 50 75 60 17 202
(%) 24.75 37.13 29.70 8.42 15.7
St. Benedict 15 185 146 56 402
(0/0) 3.73 46.02 36.32 13.93 31.3
St. Justin 45 195 109 42 391
(%) 11.51 49.87 27.88 10.74 30.5
St. Francis 37 139 76 36 288
(0/0) 12.85 48.26 26.39 12.50 22.4
Total 147 594 391 151 1,283
(0/0) 11.5 46.3 30.5 11.7




smaller number from other states and abroad They leave their homes and clanreference groups and live in Gilmer where they create new hometown reference groups, especially with other students and faculty. The majority of the Catholic students and the faculty frequent St. Benedict Parish. Table 4 shows the level of education among the survey population.

The data in Table 4 are grouped into four educational levels: 1) those whose education stopped at or before completing high school, 2) those whose education stopped at the undergraduate level, 3) those who have graduate training or degrees (but not a doctorate), and 4) those who have a doctorate. There were nine categories









48

on the questionnaire, but they have been collapsed into the above four for tabular purposes.

As Table 4 indicates, about 12% of the survey population stopped their education at or before their high school degree. Almost exactly the same percentage have a Ph.D. or other doctorate. Of the other two categories in between, however, those who stopped after their undergraduate work outnumber those who went on for pre-doctoral graduate workA breakdown of these figures by parish, as presented in Table 4, shows that parishes present quite different educational profiles. St. Benedict has the smallest percentage of people whose education never went beyond high school. St. Thomas, with its higher percentage of refired population, has more than six times as many members who never attended college than St. Benedict. Does education correlate positively or negatively with religious practices and beliefs? Does education increase or decrease one's involvement in the parish? These and other questions are discussed later.

Years of Catholic Schoolin

Recent studies have focused on Catholic Educational Institutions and their role in preserving "Catholic Identity" (Carlin, 1996). In the United States, the school remained the nucleus of the Catholic educational network. The Catholic Church, in the early years of this century, developed a distinctive mission for the Catholic schools in the United States. The American Catholic education system reached its








49

TABLE
Catholic Schooling of Respondents, by Parish

Parish None 1-8 yrs. 9+ yrs. Total
St. Thomas 69 65 59 193
N 35.75 33.68 30.57 15.6
St. Benedict 162 127 100 389
(0/0) 41.65 32.65 25.71 31.5
St. Justin 113 137 125 375
(0/0) 30.13 36.53 33.33 30.4
St. Francis 79 106 93 278
N 28.42 38.13 33.45 22.5
Total 423 435 377 1,235
(0/0) 34.3 35.2 30.5





peak in terms of enrollment in 1965-66. Research studies show that there were 11,000 elementary schools, 2,400 high schools, and about 350 colleges providing education for 5.6 million students (Francis & Egan, 1990; Quigley, 1978). By 1988-89, there were only 7,505 Catholic elementary schools and 1,362 secondary schools in the United States, a considerable decline from the figures of 1965-66. Grant and Hunt (1992) attribute the decline in the Catholic education to a loss of vAdely shared sense of Catholic mission to protect the religiosity, and to reinforce the positive self-identity of Church and home. Table 5 presents the years of Catholic schooling in the survey sample.









50

The data in Table 5 are grouped into three levels of Catholic schooling:

1) those who had none, 2) those NN&o had 1-8 years, and 3) those who had 9 years and more. On the questionnaire there were three general categories: numbers of years of Catholic schooling in grammar school, in high school, and in college. The total number of years for each respondent was added and collapsed into the above three levels for tabular purposes.

As the data indicate, the percentage of people who had no Catholic education is the same as those who had 1-8 years. That is, about one out of every three had no Catholic schooling, On the other hand, the majority of our samples (65%) had some Catholic schooling ranging from one year to more than nine years. There is similarity between St. Justin and St. Francis in the percentage distribution of people who had Catholic schooling in both parishes, about 37% had 1-8 years of Catholic schooling and about 33% had nine years and above. St. Benedict has the highest percentage of people among those who had no Catholic schooling, This might be explained by the assumption that some of the Catholic students who come to the University may not have had access to a Catholic school for their primary, middle, and high school education. Does it put greater pressure on the parishes to offer Catholic education at the parish level either through Religious Education or Adult Education? I examine this question later.









51

TABLE
Marital Status of Respondents, by Parish Parish Never Married Separated/ Widowed Total
Married Divorced
St. Thomas 15 128 19 14 176
(0/0) 8.52 72.73 10.80 7.95
St. Benedict 34 172 25 1 232
N 14.66 74.14 10.77 0.43
St. Justin 27 258 22 16 323
N 8.36 79.88 6.81 4.95
St. Francis 10 226 17 10 263
(0/0) 3.80 85.93 6.46 3.80
Total 86 784 83 41 994





Marital Status

According to the Index of Leading Cultural Indicators, marital status in the United States has undergone enormous change in the 1980s (Bennett, 1994). The divorce rate per 1,000 married women rose from 9.2 to 14.9 in 1970 and to 20.9 in 1991. National surveys indicate that 58% of American Catholics are married, 31% have never married, and 11% are divorced or separated The divorce rate among those who belong to Catholic communities seems to be lower than among those who do not belong, Table 6 presents the marital status of the survey sample. The questionnaire had five categories: 1) those who had never married, 2) those who are married, 3)









52

those who are separated, 4) those who are divorced, and 5) those who are widowed. Categories 4 and 5 have been collapsed into one for tabular purposes.

As indicated in Table 6, of the 994 respondents, 79% are married, 9% had never married, 8% are separated or divorced, and 4% are widowed. My survey results corroborate with the national survey results in which the vast majority of the Catholics are married.

St. Francis has the highest percentage of married population among our survey samples. At the other end, the percentage of those widowed is the highest in St. Thomas. And the highest percentage of those never married in St. Benedict might represent the undergraduate students who frequent St. Benedict for Sunday Masses. In the separated and divorced category, St. Benedict and St. Thomas have the same percentage (about I I%), and St. Justin and St. Francis have the same percentage (about 6%). Marital status was used to examine questions such as who seeks services in the parish.

Income

A study of American Catholics in 1987 found that there was a dramatic shift in the income and education of the Catholics in mid-1960s.

For the first time in the history of the nation, the proportion of Catholics in "upscale" groups (upper income and education levels) matches the proportion of Protestants. In addition, a higher percentage of Catholics are currently found in the college than in the general population, suggesting dig Catholics are poised for even









53

further gains in education and income. (Gallup, &
Castelli, 1987, p.2)
Is there any correlation between socioeconomic status and religion? There have been several studies that focussed on this relationship, but the results are not consistent. The studies of the 1950s indicated that members of the middle class were more likely than members of the lower middle class to be religious and to attend church (Lenski, 1953; Burchinal, 1959). D'Antomio et al. (1989) indicated that lower income Catholic families were more likely to become attached to the church, although they gave less money to the church. Table 7 presents the economic status of our survey population by their annual income.


TABLE 7
Income of Respondents, by Parish

Parish Less $25K $25-49K $50-74K $75K+ Total
St. Thomas 90 49 40 20 199
(%/) 45.23 24.62 20.10 10.05
St. Benedict 170 87 76 64 397
(%/) 42.82 21.91 19.14 16.12
St. Justin 85 144 85 66 380
(%/) 22.37 37.88 22.37 17.37
St. Francis 47 103 61 69 280
(%/) 16.79 36.79 21.79 24.64
Total 392 383 262 219 1,256








54

In my preliminary interviews, I found it difficult to obtain answers in the "income" category. For tactical reasons, I put the "income" question at the end of the questionnaire so that the respondents would answer first the most interesting questions, especially on beliefs and practices. Since I found that people are reluctant to give raw figures, I asked them to bracket it within the 13 categories: categories 1-9 had an increase of $5,000, categories 10-11 had an increase of $25,000, and categories 12-13 had an increase of $100,000. 1 collapsed 13 categories into four: 1) those whose income was less than $25,000; 2) those whose income was between $25,000 and $49,000; 3) those whose income was between $50,000 and $74,000; and 4) those whose income was $75,000 and above.

As Table 7 shows, those with income of $50,000 and above represent about 40% of the our survey population. Those in the lower two categories, less than $25,000 and $25,000-49,000, accounted for almost exactly the same percentages,

3 1 % and 3 0%, respectively.

Among the four survey parishes, St. Francis has the highest percentage of affluent and the least in the lowest income category. Conversely, St. Thomas has the highest percentage of the least affluent and the least in the highest income category. St Benedict and St Justin resemble each other in their percentages in the two highest categories, although St Benedict has 50% more than St. Justin in the category of least affluent. Later in this study I examine whether income has any appreciable impact on people's involvement and financial contributions to the parish.









55

The socioeconomic profile has delineated the following characteristics of the survey population: gender, age, education, Catholic schooling, marital status, and income. Although the four parishes display different profiles, overall, the survey sample population can be described as an educated group of individuals belonging to an economic status that is middle class and above. The majority of the population is married and has some years of Catholic schooling, As far as the mean age is concerned, it is not monolithic. More females than males tend to attend church services and volunteer for parish or common activities such as filling out my questionnaire soon after the Sunday Masses. In this chapter, I indicated how the members of the sample parishes differed in terms of age, income and education. In the following chapter, I present how the sample parishioners have somewhat different clusters of problems.














CHAPTER 3
THE PROFILE OF HUMAN PROBLEMS The preceding chapter presented a socioeconomic profile of the Catholics who participated in the survey. In this chapter I discuss the major life problems which they revealed and the extent to which they approach the solution to these problems in a religious context. In anthropological perspective, this focus on concrete human problem domains is an appropriate focus within which to pursue my interest in religion. Anthropology has traditionally viewed religion somewhat functionally as a solution to problems. Whether we as anthropologists turn to MalinowsId's psychological analysis of religion as a response by individuals to insecurity or to Radcliffe-Brown's structural-functionalist view of religion as a societal response for the need to maintain stability or to more recent functionalist analyses such as Rapoport's view of religion as a mechanism for maintaining ecological stability or Wallace's view of religious ritual as a mechanism for revitalization of threatened culture, we find a constant tradition in anthropology of searching for the ways in which individuals and societies use religion as a device for solving concrete problems. In the words of Tremmel, for example, "Religion is a complex form of human behavior whereby a person (or community of persons) is prepared intellectually and



56








57

emotionally to deal with those aspects of human existence that are horrendous and nonmanipulatable" (1984, p. 7).

Catholic religious life may also be analyzed in this Eramework. The typical Catholic parish in the United States now offers several ministries (services) that are targeted on not only religious growth but also human development (MacEoin, 1991). A parish, for example, may offer counseling services in the areas of family relations, social relations, career, responsibility, educational difficulties, and anxieties or stress generated by social and domestic criminal violence. Though the Catholic Church has helped people meet their needs, there has been an evolution in the kinds of help provided. In my personal interviews with parishioners of 70 years and above, they reported thatwhen they had some problems of a spiritual or social nature, they would call on their pastors for help. The help consisted often in a meeting with the pastor to discuss their problems. The directions given by the pastor were often taken as though they were given by divine assistance. An element of faith and hug in the pastor's advice seems to have been an important ingredient in the solutions to the problems.

Today, however, most Catholic parishes have at least one or two specialized lay ministries dealing with issues formerly dealt with by the pastor. The survey parishes are no exception: the four parishes have them, and one parish has many such ministries for special events or problems. For example, within the areas of marriage and the family, there are several specialized ministries for the pre-manied (engaged








58

couples), married couples, parents, divorced, separated, singles, and children of the divorcecl. Most of these ministries are given by full-time or part-time lay specialists.

In this chapter I present first, a profile of the human problems that are named by the survey population. I then examine the degree to which people engage in prayer to address these problems. In order to indicate that most of the identified problems are not unique to the sample population in this community, I use national data wherever these are available to show that these problems are diffused throughout the national population.

Human Problems

In my preliminary interview with parishioners, I asked them to state their problems in life. The purpose of this open-ended preliminary interviewing was to generate a list of problems that could eventually be built into the questionnaire. Having devised a list of problems on the basis of these preliminary interviews, I repeated the list of problems three times on the questionnaire. On the first list, respondents were asked to indicate whether a particular item has been a problem for them and to what degree. On the second list, the respondents were asked if they had sought help from anyone on pastoral staff (priests and lay specialists) in reference to the specified problem. On the third list, respondents were asked whether they had engaged in personal prayer about their problems. The intent of asking the first two questions is self explanatory. The third question needs a brief comment. When believers of a religious tradition have problems, they usually adhere to their religious








59

practices (Wallace, 1966). In the case of traditional Catholics, these would include Mass, the Sacraments, personal prayer, fasting and pilgrimages to shrines or holy places. In return, they seem to experience a sense of hope, emotional release, and closeness with the Sacred. In the United States, religious attendance is said to have reached its peak (49%) from the mid-eighties to mid-nineties. In the opinion of some, this surge in religious practice has come in the wake of a series of cataclysmic events such as AIDS, hurricanes, floods, and economic recession that occurred during that period (Bama, 1996). As I point out now, however, not all problems are viewed by the sample population as equal objects of personal prayer.

Table 8 presents a list of the problems and the number and percentage of the 1,293 respondents who reported having each of the problems. I prioritized them from the most reported to the least reported problems.

It is noteworthy that the six problems most frequently acknowledged are all either interpersonal and relational in character, or emotional. They reflect either stresses in relationships that are supposed to be harmonious, or negative internal feelings on the part of the person. The percentage of people reporting such problems is high. In contrast the percentage of people reporting social problems such as crime, and drugs, etc. is small, perhaps surprisingly so, in terms of the attention that is given to these problems in the media. The analysis indicated that only 1.2% of the sample population reported all 14 items as problems. Eleven percent of the sample population









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TABLE 8
List of Problems Reported in Number and Percentage

Problem Domain Number Percentage
Communication/conflict 701 55.4
Loneliness/depression 674 52.7
Self-esteem/worth 633 49.5
Parent/child 572 44.6
Spouse/partner 548 42.7
Parent/in laws 490 38.3
Job loss 457 35.7
Health 451 35.3
Education 291 31.7
Responsibility/commitment 249 19.5
Unplanned/unwanted pregnancy 227 17.8
Domestic violence 221 17.3
Drugs/alcohol 196 15.3
Crime 189 14.8




reported 5 items as problems. The majority of the sample population reported 6 items as problems.

I found that the problems reported differ somewhat from parish to parish in the survey. The members of the four parishes differ in terms of age, income, and education. These variables exert an impact on the problems thit people have. The four









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TABLE 9
Percentage of People in Each Parish Reporting the Problem

Problem Domain St. Thomas St. Justin St. Francis St. Benedict Communication/ 57.29 50.00 51.90 62.28
conflict
Loneliness!I 54.27 44.47 48.28 62.78
depression ______ ______________Self-esteem/worth 48.24 44.33 50.87 54.09
Parents/children 51.50 39.69 47.42 43.92
Spouse/partner 44.78 35.48 40.21 50.37
Parents/In-Laws 39.50 30.33 39.45 44.75.
Job Loss 37.69 31.70 37.59 37.31
Health 43.72 31.19 39.18 32.17
Education 22.73 18.77 16.26 31.42
Responsibility! 22.61 14.69 18.82 23.13
commitment
Pregnancy 18.59 16.24 17.01 19.40
Domestic violence 23.00 14.40 12.80 20.40
Drugs/Alcohol 18.00 12.08 18.28 14.93
Crime 14.50 11.89 14.14 18.16




parishes have parishioners with somewhat different clusters of problems. Table 9 shows the percentage of people in each parish who had the problems.

Neither the columns nor the rows add up to 100%, because Table 9 reports the percentage of people in each parish who acknowledged experiencing a given problem









62

set The approximate prioritizing of the problems is roughly the same in each parish, at least in terms of generic problem types. That is, the interpersonal and intrapersonal problems tend to rank high.

St. Benedict parish caters more than the other parishes to students. St. Thomas has a higher percentage of elderly and retired people. As expected, St. Benedict reported a higher incidence of educational problems than St. Thomas. A higher incidence of health problems was reported by the more elderly parishioners of St. Thomas. In terms of the intrapersonal, emotional problems-loneliness/depression and poor self esteem, these two parishes scored higher than St. Justin and St. Francis. The "student parish"scored higher than the "elderly parish"in terms of experiencing problems with the emotional, intrapersonal issues. One might have expected that St. Thomas parish, with its specialization on service to more elderly Catholics, many of whom are widowed, would have a higher incidence of loneliness. The data do not bear this out, however. Students are not only more insecure than the elderly, they also appear to be lonelier. In all four parishes, however, these problems (intrapersonal, emotional-loneliness/depression, poor self-esteem) rank much higher than the social problems (crime, drugs/alcohol, violence).

There is another notable distinction between St. Benedict and St. Thomas in terms of parent/child problems. St. Thomas parish reported the highest incidence of problems labeled on the questionnaire as "parent/child relationships." One may assume that it is the parents reporting problems with their children. And since the








63

parents are largely elderly, the children with whom they are experiencing problems are adult children. In contrast, St Benedict scored highest on reporting problems with "parents and in4aws." Here, one may assume that it is adult children who are reporting the problem That is, in both parishes parent/child problems are present, but the parishioners of St. Thomas report them from the parental perspective, whereas the parishioners of St. Benedict are more likely to take the point of view of the adult offspring,

For purposes of further discussion, I collapsed this list of 14 items into a smaller list of seven "problem areas": 1) health, 2) crime, 3)drugs/alcohol, 4) violence, 5) education, 6) marriage and family, and 7) personal. I examined the responses concerning each of these problem areas one-by-one, to see whether there are any differences among subgroups defined by variables more frequently discussed in the anthropological literature: age, gender, education, marital status.

Heal

Health issues emerged as number eight in the responses of the survey population. But in terms of the prominence in the anthropological literature, health issues have a high level of interest. In terms of public attention in the United States' media, health also is given priority. Health care has become very expensive and sometimes inaccessible. The advances in medical technology and the newly available sophisticated medical services have proliferated the specialization of physicians; with specialization came increased costs. Although the United States Government had









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TABLE 10
Distribution of Health Problems, by Age Group

Age Group Number Percentage Reported
18-34 88 23.91
35-54 181 35.63
55+ 174 45.91
Total 443
Percent of total 35.3
Chi-Square 39.5, P<0.001





created Medicare for the aged and Medicaid for the indigent in 1965, according to the social studies, there are about 37 million people without any coverage of health care, and 25 million more have inadequate health coverage. Poor health is often reflected in psychological disorders such as stress, loneliness, marital discord, and alcoholism (Scarpitti & Anderson, 1989). Though health problems did not rank high on the survey, health issues are still noteworthy in that more than one out of three respondents in our survey population (3 5.3 %) identified health as a problem.

I found no difference by gender on the health variable. That is, the tendency to report health as a problem was equally strong among males and females. However, as Table 10 indicates, there were major differences by age.








65

The association between health problems and age is not surprising, As people advance in their age, their concerns for health increase. The younger age group (1834), however, is less concerned about health as a problem both because of maturational and lifestyle variables. That is, not only does their youth protect them from illness, but also they are inclined to diet and exercise in concurrence with the cultural coercion that seems to identify good health with success and poor health with failure in life.

Health problems, however, are created not only by age, but also by different types of stress. The divorced (44.71%) and widowed (44.00%) indicated a slightly higher percentage of concerns about health than those who are never married (30.77%), married (35.040/o), and separated (37.50%). The high incidence of health problems among the widowed indicates that physical well bemg is linked to emotional well being,

Also worthy of comment is the fact that educational level was significantly (P.<01) correlated with the reporting of health problems, but only among the least educated That is, nearly half of those who had only a high school education reported health as a problem, whereas the incidence among other groups was closer to one out of three.

Crime

Crime topped voters' concerns in the 1996 election of the President of the United States. When a group of 625 registered voters in Florida were asked, 'Vhat








66

do you think is the most important problem in the nation that the president must deal with?" 45% of them said crime/drugs (Rufty, 1996). Social studies indicate there has been a 550% increase in violent crime since 1960 in the United States while population has increased only 41% (Bennett, 1994). According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, eight out of every ten Americans can expect to be the victims of violent crime at least once in their lives. Since 1990, more than 90,000 people have been murdered, about twice as many Americans than were killed in Vietnam War.

Every year in America, there is a murder committed every 22 minutes, a rape every five minutes, a robbery every 47 seconds, and a violent crime of some kind committed every 22 seconds. Five million Americans are victims of violent crime every year, while 19 million are targets of property crimes, such as larceny, burglary, or
theft. (Reed, 1994, p.87)

Some studies find that there has been some decrease in the crimes committed by people in the 25 years and older group. However, there has been an increase in the incidence of juvenile crime, the crime committed by those in the 14-17 age group (Chandler, 1996). In order to fight against juvenile crime, the President of the United States has proposed a 495 million-dollar national campaign in his 1998 budget (Hunt, 1997). A telephone poll of 500 adult Americans taken for Time/CNN reveals that 59% of the survey population worries about being a victim of crime (Smolowe, 1993).








67

Crime has traditionally been studied as a kind of deviant behavior. Social scientists have formulated various mechanisms of social control to prevent deviant behavior. One of those mechanisms called "internalization of social norms" pertains to the goal of institutions such as religion and fwiily. In this context, religious services in the form of counseling and spiritual direction may be helping youth to internalize those values for a crime free society as well as serving as a source of comfort for those who fear themselves to be the victims of crime (Spilka, Shaver, & Kirkpatrick, 1985).

Crime has a lower order of priority in our survey population. Only 14.8% of respondents reported that crime is a problem, which is an exception to the usually higher national. crime consciousness. This could be considered as one of the outcomes of concentrated security services in the community after five college students were murdered in 1990. Besides the increased police patrolling in the city, the university campus security offers special protection and escort service to those students who need to reach home after it is dark However, as our Table I I indicates, the age group of 18-34 year, both male and female, thinks of crime as a problem more than the other two age groupsThe majority of the students fall under this (18-34) age group. In my one-onone interviews, I found students who were worried about crimes that were happening in the nation. They were concerned, in particular, about the innocent victims of crime









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TABLE I I
Distribution of Crime Problems, by Age Group

Age Group Number Percentage Reported
18-34 67 18.2-5
35-54 80 15.69
55+ 38 10.05
Total 185
Percent of total 14.8
Chi-Square 10.5, P<0.001





in the society. Such concerns often triggered questions about the Providence of God and justice for the victim of crime. Crime as a problem had no statistical significance to one's educational status, and marital status.

Druas/Alcohol

National surveys indicate that there is a 50% reduction in drug use from its peak in the late 1970s. However, the problem remains relatively constant among the number of hard core addicts. The adolescent drug use trends have increased nationwide. According to the White House Office of National Drug Control Strategy (1992) in 1992, among eighth grade students, 11.2% reported trying marijuana. This was one percentage higher than in 1991. In addition, it was reported that LSD use among eighth-graders has increased 24% from 1991. In Florida, the story is different.









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TABLE 12
Distribution of Drug/Alcohol Problems, by Gender

Gender Number Percentage Reported
Male 112 21.58
Female 84 11.19
Total 192
Percent of total 15.3
Chi-square 25.4, P<0.001




Drug use among the adolescents in Florida is higher than the national average. A drug use survey taken by Florida Health and Human Services among 22,000 middle school and high school students in 1995 showed that 43% of the students said that they used alcohol, 31% used tobacco, 20% smoked marijuana, 6% used cocaine, and 10% admitted that they had inhaled various substances (The Gainesville Sun, March 4, 1997, p. 4A).

Like crime, alcohol/drugs has a lower order of priority in the survey population. About 15% of the survey population said that alcohol/drugs is a problem. Statistically, there was no significant relation between educational status and alcohol/drugs problem. But there were significant differences from the point of gender, age group, and marital status. Table 12 presents gender differences.








70

Although there has been a change in the perception of women who drink more than men, this survey conforms with the conventional view that drinking is a male problem. People drink for various reasons. The Pontifical Council for the Family (1992) identified one constant basic motive: "a certain crisis of values and the person's lack of interior harmony." In my interviews, people told me that they drink to escape from problems or worries of their daily life often related to their marital status. Of those who had indicated this problem in the survey, 31.25% were separated and 22.35% were divorced. This is a higher rate than those of the never married (14.18%), married (15.231/6), and widowed (4.00%).

By age group, those who belong to 35-54 years tend to have more problems with alcohol/drugs (18.24%) than the other two groups. This cannot be held as a universal phenomenon. It is said in general that alcohol/drug use cuts across social variables. A certain age group of people is more likely to use certain types of alcohol and drugs such as narcotics, sedatives, stimulants, and hallucinogens. According to one local news report, the town had the second highest per capita heroin death rate in 1996 in Florida (Richter, 1997). My interviews with the youth indicated that most of the younger people attempt to use narcotics, while the adults try for various stimulants.

Domestic Violence

The National Conference of Catholic Bishops of the United States issued a statement on violence after their meeting in Washington in November 14-17, 1994.








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The statement in brief condemned the epidemic of violence in the United States, because "violence in families, schools and neighborhoods is tearing apart the fabric of American life" (Reese, 1994). Social scientists consider violence as a social problem because it affects individuals in countless ways and disrupts society. In fact, violence can manifest itself in different forms such as suicide, criminal acts (homicide, aggravated assault, forcefid rape), and domestic violence.

Domestic violence includes all kinds of violence, physical, emotional, and sexual, that occur within the home. Research carried out about 20 years ago concluded that 50% of all American couples engage in some kind of physical abuse (Steinmetz, 1977). Later studies have recorded the recurrent domestic violence in staggering numbers. In 1982, about 55 million couples experienced some form of violence in the family (Scarpitti & Anderson, 1989). An estimated three to four million women in the United States are battered each year by their husbands or partners (National Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1992). Domestic violence was identified as the leading cause of injury among women. It is reported that such domestic violence IdIls at least 1,400 women a year (Carlson, 1995). There are several underlying causes of violence in the family. Several studies indicate 1) the power struggle that exists between man and women in the family, 2) the imbalance of power between men and women resulting from sociocultural practices in regard to finances, roles of authority and decision making, and 3) the frustrations that come








72
ftom working conditions, unemployment, or alcohol/drug abuse (National Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1992).

In the survey, domestic violence did not emerge as a top priority. As indicated in Table 8 only 218 of the 1,269 respondents (17.3%) identified domestic violence as a problem and 156 of these respondents (71.6%) were women. The assumption is that most episodes of domestic violence will involve both spouses. This preponderance of women who report the problem must be explained. Why are there not an equal number of men who report the problem? Three answers can be suggested:- 1) men in the sample involved in such episodes underreport it, 2) perhaps more likely, men involved in domestic violence with women are the aggressors, and 3) aggressors are less likely to go to church than victims. At any rate, the difference between the genders is highly significant (P<0.001), which corroborates with the national studies in which the percentage of women reporting domestic violence is higher than that of men.

Some might suspect that such violence will be more common among those %ith less schooling, If so, they are wrong, at least for this sample. In fact, those with an undenmduate college degree reported a slightly higher percentage of violence than those with only a high school education (18.5% as opposed to 13.90/6), but the differences are too small to achieve statistical significance.

It would appear that the simple age of a person is a much better predictor of violence than his or her educational status. Only about 13% of the under-34s and the








73

over-55s report domestic violence, as compared to 23% of the 35-54 age group (P<0.001). Are we dealing with a life cycle phenomenon in which the tendency to violence increases toward mid-life and then begins to wane? Or is this simply due to differential residential arrangements? Perhaps a larger percentage of the young and the old are not living with spouses and the occasion for violence would thus be reduced. I tested this by looldng only at the subsample of 865 respondents who were currently married at the time of the survey. Even among this subgroup, the tendency toward domestic violence is significantly higher (P<0.01) among the 35-54 age group than among the other two age cohorts. Violence does seem to increase slightly with age up to a certain point, at which point it begins to decline as one moves toward one's 60s.

Twelve percent of our respondents reported that they were separated, and 45% reported that they were divorced, The levels of violence reported (retrospectively) by these two groups are astronomically higher than the 17% for the sample at large: 75% for the separated, 52% for the divorced. It is reasonable to infer that domestic violence could have been one of the leading causes for their separation and divorce.

Education ,

Education has been the primary means of cultural transmission for succeeding generations in human societies. Educators teach youth the values of society and prepare them for occupations. Social scientists report that a vast expansion of








74

educational institutions in the United States took place mostly in the last hundred years.

In 1890, only 7% of the relevant age group went to high school and only 1% to college. By 1970, 90% of Americans aged fourteen to seventeen were in high school, and by the 1980 a majority of Americans of college age were receiving some higher education.
(Bellah et al., 1992, p. 146)

Education transmits culture, but in the process it is affected by cultural forces such as the work ethic, economy, individualism, violence, and breakdown of family system. National statistics show that there is no systematic correlation between spending on education and student achievement. While expenditures on elementary and secondary education have increased more than 200% since 1960, SAT scores are reported to have declined 73 points (Bennett, 1994). According to the Congressional Quarterly, in 1940 problems in American schools were talking out of turn, chewing gum, making noise, running in the halls, cutting in line, dress-code violations, and littering. However, in 1990 the reported problems are drug abuse, alcohol abuse, pregnancy, suicide, rape, robbery, and assault (Bennett, 1994). A 1993 survey by the U.S. Department of Education on violence in the schools indicated that there was a correlation between students, performances and parental involvements. Half of all students with poor grades indicated that their parents had spent little or no time with them on their homework in the previous week.

One-third of the students whose parents separate or divorce suffer a significant decline in their scholastic








75

performance. And even those families stay together suffer from a "famine" in family time, often caused by hurried parents in two-income households, multiple jobs,
and long hours at the office. (Reed, 1994, p.85)

The proponents of educational reform call for increased parental and family involvement They advocate parental choice and encouragement through vouchers and tax credits and excellence over competence. "What students at all levels badly need is the reassurance that it is admirable to pursue intellectual achievement" (Walsh, 1997, p. 17A).

Research studies focused on "Generation X," that is, those who are between 16 and 34, reveal that there is a kind of pessimism prevailing over this generation. According to the studies, about 3 8 million young Americans who make up Generation X are facing an uncertain labor market. This uncertainty causes pessimistic attitude toward education and its promises to create opportunity and the potential for economic advancement (Bennett, 1994).

In the survey population, 22.8% indicated that they have educational problems such as admission, finance, accommodation, examination and job searching, There was no statistical difference among females and males reporting the problem. Both experience the Problem at the same level: males 22.9% and females 22.9%. However, as Table 13 indicates, when age group was applied, there was significant difference in the reporting,








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TABLE 13
Distribution of Education Problems, by Age Group

Age Group Number Percentage Reported
18-34 141 38.42
35-54 98 19.22
55+ 46 12.23
Total 285
Percent of total 31.7
Chi-Square 78.5, P<0.001





The younger generation's problems related to education are to be explained in today's cultural situation. The majority of this generation come from separated or divorced families, and they suffer from the absence of supportive family structures. A disconnectedness from parental experience only increases one's problems in other areas of life. The parental involvement for these students in matters of choosing a university or a major in studies is not there. They are often left alone to make decisions. This explanation seems feasible from the fact that of those who had reported this problem, 27.16% were undergraduates and 22.48% were graduates. Those who had high school education and doctoral level education reported respectively 15.71% and 13.25%.








77

Of those who indicated this problem, 43.54% were never married, 16.08% married, 37.50% separated, 32.94% divorced, and 8.00% widowed. Marital status applied to education had statistical significance (P<0.001). According to this survey, those who are married seem to have the least amount of educational problems. This may be due to the fact that their life partners are helpful in dealing with the educational problems. There is no doubt that sharing one's problem with another is one of the ways of reducing the anxieties related to problems. However, my one-onone interviews with some students indicated the opposite. Several married graduate students find it very difficult to cope with the demands of education and family. A total concentration upon their education is often misinterpreted by their spouses as negligence of family responsibilities. This often leads to marital discord in their families.

Mardaze and Eamil

In anthropological perspective, marriage can be seen as a stable presidential relationship between individual men and women. But the specific form of marriage and Idnship system may vary from culture to culture depending on how many marriage partners are involved at one time, who can marry whom, how property and descent are determined, where the family resides, and how power is distributed (Hess, Markson, & Stein, 1988). However, families play a vital role in the fabric of the sociocultural system. It is in families where individuals form emotional bonds, meet physical needs, learn about various systems of authority, power, conflict, and values.








78

Families were so important to the society that their'Mability was supported by local communities, extended kin groups, and religious organizations, as wen as by many economic, legal, and political functions and constraints" (Bellah et al., 1992, p.45).

Marriage and family have undergone dramatic changes in the contemporary world. In 1960, there were only 393,000 divorces with three out of every four mani ages successful in the United States. But in 1992, the number increased to 1.2 million with six out of ten marriages ending in failure (Reed, 1994). And though divorce extricates individuals from personally unpleasant situations, its social impact has been viewed by some as quite negative.

Divorce has ripple effects that touch not just the family involved, but our entire society. As the writer Pat Conroy observed when his own marriage broke up, 'Tach divorce is the death of a small civilization." When one family divorces, that divorce affects relatives, friends, neighbors, employers, teachers, clergy, and scores of strangers.... Teachers from all over the country tell me that their students come to school wide-eyed with fear, saying that their parents quarreled the night before and asking in terror, "Does this mean that they are going to divorce?" Radical changes in family life affects all families, homes, parents, children, courtship, and marriages, silently altering the social fabric of the entire
society. (Wallerstein & Blakeslee, 1989, p.xxi)

Family breakdown is attributed as the one source of all social ills such as drug crisis, the education crisis, teen pregnancy, and juvenile crime (Bennett, 1994).

Due to farnily problems, the traditional nuclear family in American society is on the decline. Single-parent families are becoming more common. According to 1991








79

statistics, one in eight families was headed by a single-parent. And the parent, among the single-parents, is five times more likely to be a woman. In 1996, there were 15.8 million children living in single parent families. About one million children have parents who separate or divorce per year (Bennett, 1994). The U.S Census Bureau predicts that 60% of all children in the United States will lose a parent to divorce before they reach the age of eighteen (Reed, 1994). According to Bateson (198 5), the new diversity in American families includes the following: a) Nuclear family-husband, wife children; b) extended family-nuclear family plus grandparents, uncles, aunts, and so on; c) blended family--husband, wife, plus children from previous marriage(s); d) common-law family--man, woman, and possibly children living together as a family, although the man and the woman have not gone through a formal legal marriage ceremony; e) single-parent family--household managed by one parent either man or woman, due to divorce, death, desertion, or never having been married, f) commune family--men, women, and children living together, often sharing rights and responsibilities, who collectively own and use property, sometimes abandoning traditional monogamous marriages; g) serial family--man and woman has succession of marriages by which they have acquired several spouses and different families over a lifetime, but had one nuclear family at a time; h) composite family--a form of Polygamous marrage in which two or more nuclear families share a common husband (polygyny) or wife (polyandry) (the former is more prevalent.); i) cohabitation--a nonlegally binding arrangement between two unmarried persons of the opposite sex;








80

and g) gay couples--couples of the same gender who develop and maintain a homosexual relationship.

My survey focused more on the problems of marriage and family than on the diversity of families. However, the survey includes a question on the marital status of our population. The problems of marrage and family often reflect the tensions and strains placed on family relations. Therefore, I asked the participants to respond to the following family issues: 1) Relational problems with one's spouse or dating partner; 2) problems with understanding responsibility and commitment; 3) communication/conflict issues in relationship; 4) parent/child relationships; 5) problems with one's parents! or in-laws; and 6) unplanned and/or unwanted pregnancy in the family. I discuss each briefly.

Relational Problem with One's Spouse/ Partne

Relational problems with one's spouse or partner were reported by 42.7% of our survey population. From my one-on-one interviews, I have come to know that relational problems often have resulted fr-om the need to cope with the social changes and cultural forces which often shape family structure. For example, both husband and wife working outside their home results in sharing roles and child rearing responsibilities. Such obligations leave very little time for the couples to attend to and to express their deepest concerns and needs for each other. The absence of mutual support and appreciation have resulted in marital discord. In this survey, I find that








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TABLE 14
Distribution of Spouse/Partner Problems, by Gender

Gender Number Percentage Reported
Female 350 46.48
Male 193 37.12
Total 543
Percent of total 42.7
Chi-Square 11.0, P<0.001




the tendency to report relational problems was not equally strong among females and males. Table 14 presents gender reporting.

This difference between females and males could be explained by the assumption that the understanding of relational problem between couples or partners is different. What appears to be a problem to one person may not be a problem to the other. And the lack of understanding could be due to several factors such as communication, commitment, and so on. I discuss these factors later. There was statistical significance when I analyzed this problem under the age group (P<0.001). There seems to be a tendency that as people advance in their age, their relational problems seem to decrease.








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Relational problems with a spouse/partner may have been the cause of separation and divorce. Of those who had reported such problems, 87.50% were separated, and 87.76% were divorced from their spouses or partners.

Does education help to improve relational problems between spouse/partner? The answer to this question would depend a great deal upon the level of education one receives. Higher levels of education would normally be expected to help the person achieve a greater degree of relationship with the spouse/partner. Against this conventional expectation, my data indicate that those with higher levels of education have greater degrees of relational problems with spouse/partner. About 35% of those who had reported this problem had high school education and 47.68% had graduate education. The statistical significance was (P<0.01). Relational problems with spouse or partner are closely related to the level of understanding responsibility and commitment.

Problems with Understanding RespQnsibilily and Commitm

Among the survey population, 19.5% reported having problems with understanding responsibility and commitment. Although the percentage reported is secondary, the issue of responsibility and commitment in marriage is considered as an essential element of family. Lack of commitment in marriage is reported as the cause of what is called "divorce culture" in which marriage is held as an option, contingent on personal wishes, and a gateway to a more seemingly fulfilling life as opposed to the "marriage culture" that used to hold marriage as a given, forever








83

relationship (Bellah et al., 1985). The Catholic Church places heavy emphasis on commitment in marriage because it is a process of growth into an intimate Eriendship and a deepening peace. Therefore, the Church encourages married couples to pledge their love under all circumstances.

Problems with understanding responsibility and commitment were reported by 19.5% of the survey population. In gender relations, commitment in marriage should be equal. However, I found in the analysis that more males than females have indicated this problem: 22.24% were males and 17.76% were females.

Under marital status, the never-married had indicated a problem with commitment 13% more than the married This denotes something unusual. Those who are never married consider commitment in marriage as a problem long before they are married. This could be interpreted that they either fear the "divorce culture" that seems common in the society, or are unwilling to take responsibility and commitment in marriage due to experiences they had in prior relationships. In my one-on-one interviews with parishioners, I met with a couple who had to delay their wedding because the man had serious problems with the concept "commitment." This person had been involved in previous relationships with several persons, but none of those relationships had lasted more than six months. Although he agreed to marry this woman, he was not yet sure whether this relationship would last Iong. It is not an uncommon thing that those who had experienced some Idnd of failure even in casual









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TABLE 15
Distribution of Communication Conflict Issues, by Age Group

Age group Number Percentage Reported
18-34 213 58.04
35-54 307 60.31
55+ 179 47.23
Total 699
Percent of total 55.4
Chi-Square 16.2, P<0.001 I




relationships find it hard to commit themselves in lasting relationships in marriage. Communication between couples is essential to mutual responsibility/commitment.

Communication/Conflict Issues

About 55% of our survey population identified communication/conflict issues in their life. These issues are often clustered around one's ability or disability to listen to one's spouse or partner and to share common concerns of the family. Social scientists indicate that the lack of communication between couples or partners could be the result of the fear of disagreement, or misunderstanding, or rejection by one's spouse or partner.

Those who are 18-34 years old and 35-54 years old seem to have more communication/conflict problems than those who are 55 and more. As indicated in Table 15, communication/conflict issues seem to decrease as people advance in age.








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As it is true in several other areas, women are more likely to experience (or at least to report) communication problems than men. When this problem was viewed under the gender variable, I found statistical significance (P<0.01) to the effect that females (58.32%) have higher percentage rates than males (51.16%). The difference in gender might indicate that females are more inclined to acknowledge communication/conflict as an important issue in their life than males. Lack of communication between couples could have an explosive effect on their marriages. The majority of those who had reported communication as a problem in our sample belong to the separated, and divorced marital status.

There was statistical significance by educational status (P<0.001). Of those who had reported communication/conflict as problems, 62.02% had graduate level education. This is about 20% higher than those who had high school education. This, once again, seems to go against the conventional wisdom that higher education would enable the persons to communicate better with others. Communication is a learned skill. How much of the academic education is directed to developing the human skill of communication is a subject of discussion.

Parent/Child Relationship Problem

Parent/child relationship problems were reported by 44.6% of the survey population. These problems have a high order of priority at the national as well as at the local level. Coping with the demands of child rearing is acknowledged to be difficult today by social scientists. On the part of the parents, it calls for commitment,




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THE EMERGING PHENOMENON OF LAY SPECIALISTS
IN CATHOLIC PARISHES
By
ANTHONY MICHAELRAJ
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
1997

Copyright 1997
By
Anthony Michaelraj

Dedication
This work is dedicated to my mother, and my father who is 92 years old,
and to my brother priest John Gillespie, who celebrates the
Silver Jubilee of his Priestly Ordination.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
I express my sincere gratitude to my advisory committee, Dr. Gerald Murray,
Dr. Paul Doughty, Dr. Leslie Lieberman, Dr. Diedre Crumbley, and Dr. Michael
Gannon. These individuals have been a source of inspiration. I thank them for their
guidance, instruction and criticism. I express my special thanks to my chair,
Dr.Gerald Murray, for his patience throughout the ordeal of writing this dissertation,
and his consistent encouragement and support to complete this work
I am no less indebted to my brother priests in town. I especially thank the
pastors Fr. John Gillespie, Fr. Roland Julien, Fr. Michael Williams, and Fr. Jeff
McGowan for their generous spirit to allow me to conduct the survey among the
parishioners and interview the lay specialists and others at my own time schedule. My
sincere thanks go to the lay specialists who gave unstintingly of their time and
experience. I am exceedingly fortunate to have known Fr. John Gillespie who
welcomed me to his parish to be in residence from 1990 to 1997. He gave me the
opportunity to work in the parish from 1990 to 1993 and to pursue my graduate
studies at the University of Florida. He has been a constant source of support and
inspiration to me during the years of my research.
IV

Technically this research was not funded by any organization. But I should say
that it was “funded” by many friends who gave their time, talent, and treasure. The
list of persons who have helped me is too lengthy to mention each of them by name,
but I trust they know who they are and will accept my thanks. I would like to
acknowledge the help of some by name, who stood by me during the hard times of
conducting the survey in four parishes: Kevin, Laura, and Elizabeth Hoyle, who
accompanied me to the four survey parishes to distribute the questionnaires and
collect them from the participants after each of the seventeen Masses, and Genevieve
Thomas and Blossom Das who helped to prepare the envelopes with questionnaires
and stamps for those who chose to take home the questionnaires. I thank Jean
Weismantel and Margaret Joyner who were generous with their time and expertise in
terms of editorial assistance.
I owe my thanks to Bishop Leon Tharmaraj, my bishop in India, who kindly
provided me with some financial assistance for maintenance through the Koch
Foundation, as well as flexibility of time to complete this research.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Page
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS iv
LIST OF TABLES x
ABSTRACT xiv
CHAPTERS
1 INTRODUCTION 1
Research Questions and General Hypotheses 6
Theoretical Perspective 6
The Survey Design 9
Instrumentation 12
Organization of the Study 17
2 SOCIOECONOMIC PROFILE OF THE CATHOLIC RESEARCH
SAMPLE 23
Historical Antecedents 23
The Catholic Parish 23
Early Ethnic Catholicism: Lay Involvement 26
From Ethnic Catholicism to American Catholicism 30
Vatican II: Emergence of New Validating Ideologies 35
Statistical Overview of Research Sample 40
Distribution of Respondents by Gender 40
Age 44
Educational Level 46
Years of Catholic Schooling 48
Marital Status 51
Income 52
vi

3 THE PROFILE OF HUMAN PROBLEMS 56
Human Problems 58
Health 63
Crime 65
Drugs/Alcohol 68
Domestic Violence 70
Education 73
Marriage and Family 77
Relational Problem with One’s Spouse/Partner 80
Problems with Understanding Responsibility and Commitment .... 82
Communication/Conflict Issues 84
Parent/Child Relationship Problems 85
Problems with One's Parent or In-laws 88
The Problems of Unplanned and/or Unwanted Pregnancy 90
Personal Problems 92
Problems of Loneliness and/or Depression 92
Loss of Job 95
Problems Related to Self-esteem/Worth 97
Personal Prayer as an Indicator of the Problems 100
4 RELIGIOUS BELIEFS 106
Catholic Beliefs: A Brief Overview 108
Core Catholic Beliefs with Regard to the Spirit World 109
The Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist 110
The Virginal Conception of Jesus 113
The Resurrection of Jesus 116
Life after Death 118
The Eternity of Hell 120
Catholic Beliefs: Ethical or Moral Nature 123
Nonmarital Sexuality 125
Divorce and Annulment 133
The Use of Contraceptives 136
Abortion 139
Catholic Beliefs: Traditional Nature 142
Priestly Celibacy 142
Male Priesthood 145
5 THE CATHOLIC PRACTICES 150
Catholic Ritual Practices: A Brief Overview 151
Structure of the Survey Questions 166
Religious Practices: Analysis 167
vii

Core Catholic Practices 168
Catholic Sacramental Practices 176
General Christian Practices 182
6 THE LAY SPECIALISTS: OVERVIEW OF THE TRANSITION .... 186
A Descriptive Definition of “Lay Specialists” 187
Characteristics of Lay-Specialists 190
Motivation 190
Education 193
Collaboration 195
Lay-Specialists’ Tasks 199
7 SPECIFIC ROLES OF THE LAY SPECIALISTS 209
Liturgy Specialist 209
Spirituality Specialist 215
Religious Education Specialist 218
Marriage and Family Specialist 221
Music Specialist 224
Youth Specialist 227
RCIA Specialist 229
8 THE LAY SPECIALISTS AND THE PARISHIONERS 235
Independent Variable: Interaction with Lay Specialists 237
Domain I: Parishioners’ Involvement in Parishes 240
Testing the Domain I Hypothesis 245
Domain II: Parishioners’ Christian Spirituality 250
Core Beliefs 251
Ethical and Moral Beliefs 252
Traditional Disciplinary Beliefs 254
The Core Catholic Practices 255
The Catholic Sacramental Practices 256
General Christian Practices 257
Lay Specialists and Parishioner's Financial Contribution 260
Lay Specialists as “Example”' for the Parishioners 267
Parishioners’ Satisfaction with Lay Specialists’ Execution of Tasks 276
9 CONCLUSIONS 285
The Lay Specialists 285
Human Problems 286
Religious Beliefs 287
viii

Core Catholic Beliefs 288
Beliefs: Ethical and Moral Nature 288
Beliefs: Traditional Nature 289
Religious Practices 289
The Core Catholic Practices 290
The Catholic Sacramental Practices 290
The General Christian Practices 291
Domain I: Lay Specialists and Parishioners’ Involvement 291
Domain II: Lay Specialists and Parishioners’ Christian Spirituality . 296
Lay Specialists and Parishioner's Financial Contribution 300
Lay Specialists’ Services and Parishioners’ Satisfaction 302
A Pragmatic Question: Are the Lay Specialists Needed in Parishes? 304
APPENDIX 311
BIBLIOGRAPHY 319
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 327
IX

LIST OF TABLES
Table page
1. Gender of Those Attending Mass, by Parish 41
2. Gender of Respondents, by Parish 42
3. Age, by Parish 45
4. Level of Education, by Parish 47
5. Catholic Schooling, by Parish 49
6. Marital Status, by Parish 51
7. Income, by Parish 53
8. List of Problems Reported in Number and Percentage 60
9. Percentage of People in Each Parish Reporting the Problem 61
10. Distribution of Health Problems, by Age Group 64
11. Distribution of Crime Problems, by Age Group 68
12. Distribution of Drugs/Alcohol Problems, by Gender 69
13. Distribution of Education Problems, by Age Group 76
14. Distribution of Spouse/Partner Problems, by Gender 81
15. Distribution of Communication Conflict Issues, by Age Group 84
16. Distribution of Parent/Child Problems, by Age Group 87
17. Distribution of Parent/In-laws Problems, by Age Group 89
x

18. Distribution of Loneliness/Depression Problems, by Gender 93
19. Distribution of Job Loss Problems, by Age Group 96
20. Distribution of Self-esteem/Worth Problems, by Age Group 99
21. Number and Percentage of People Who Experience a Problem
and Pray about the Problem 101
22. Ranking of Problems by Frequency of Occurrence and
Personal Prayer 102
23. Responses to the Teaching That Christ Is
Physically (Real) Present in the Eucharist 112
24. Responses to the Teaching That Jesus Was Conceived without
Male Input 115
25. Responses to the Teaching That Jesus Rose Physically from the Dead . 117
26. Responses to the Teaching That the Human Soul Continues to
Live after Death 119
27. Responses to the Teaching That Those Who Die in Grave Sin
Will Spend Eternity in Hell 122
28. Responses to the Teaching That Premarital Sex Is Sinful 128
29. Responses to the Teaching That Extramarital Sex Is Sinful
for Married People 130
30. Responses to the Teaching That Homosexual Acts Are Inherently
Sinful 132
31. Responses to the Teaching That Divorce Is Prohibited and
Annulment Should Be Restricted 135
32. Responses to the Teaching That the Use of Contraceptives Is Sinful .. 137
33. Responses to the Teaching That Abortion Entails the Killing
of an Innocent Human Life 140
xi

34. Responses to the Teaching That Priestly Celibacy Should Be Retained 144
35. Responses to the Teaching That Only Males May Be Ordained as
Priests 147
36. Distribution of Religious Practices in Three Categories 168
37. Distribution of Mass, Communion, and Confession, by Age Group ... 169
38. Frequency of the Religious Practice: Benediction 176
39. Frequency of the Religious Practice: Rosary 177
40. Frequency of Religious Practice: Novena, by Age Groups 179
41. Distribution of the Practice: Retreat, by Age Group 180
42. Percentages Practicing Bible Reading and Other Spiritual Reading,
by Gender 183
43. The Level of Religious Observance, by Number and Percentage 184
44. The Profile of Parish Activities and Agents, by Parish 200
45. Percentages of Parish Activities and Agents, by Parish 201
46. Tendency to Seek Help from Lay Specialists, by Parish 238
47. Tendency to Seek Help from Priests, by Parish 239
48. Distribution of Laity's Involvement in Parish 242
49. Distribution of Laity's Involvement, by Gender 243
50. Distribution of Involvement, by Age Groups 245
51. Seek Lay Specialists’Help and Parish Involvement 246
52. Seeking Priest’s Help and Laity’s Parish Involvement 248
53. Seek Any Help and Parish Involvement 249
xii

54. The Percentages of Parishioners’ Sacramental Practices and
Interaction 257
55. Percentages of Parishioners’ Christian Practices and Interactions 258
56. Respondents’ Mean Weekly Contribution 261
57. Distribution of Mean Weekly Contribution, by Type of Help Sought .. 262
58. Income Categories and Seeking Lay Specialists’ Services 264
59. Income Categories and Seeking Priests’ Services 265
60. Mean Weekly Contribution of the Less Than $25K Who Sought Help . 265
61. Mean Weekly Contribution of the Most Affluent Who Sought Help ... 266
62. Catholic Educational Level and State of Conviction 270
63. Percentages: In Need to Make Connection between Life and Faith,
by Parish 271
64. Percentages: In Need to Make Connection between Life and Faith,
by Gender 272
65. Percentages: In Need to Make Connection between Life and Faith,
by Age Groups 273
66. Percentages: In Need to Make Connection between Life and Faith,
by Help Sought 274
67. Distribution of Opinion on Lay Specialists’ Services, by Number
of Respondents in Each Parish 278
68. Distribution of Satisfaction on Lay Specialists’ Services, by Number
of Respondents in Each Parish 281

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirement for the Degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
THE EMERGING PHENOMENON OF LAY SPECIALISTS
IN CATHOLIC PARISHES
By
Anthony Michaelraj
December, 1997
Chairman: Dr. Gerald F. Murray
Major Department: Anthropology
This study was conducted in four Catholic parishes in Florida of an organi¬
zational shift toward increased utilization of salaried lay professionals to carry out
activities formerly the sole responsibility of priests. The research was conducted from
1994 to 1996. Parish organization, which has always entailed some lay involvement,
has increased since the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). Researchers have attri¬
buted the increase to the decreasing number of priests, to a sense of shared respon¬
sibility in the Church, and as an accommodation to democratic trends in society.
Lay professionals belong to a subculture of laity; known as “lay specialists,”
they are emerging as a new phenomenon in American Catholic parishes. By virtue of
specialization in a particular program, recognition in the community, and
xiv

remuneration for their work, lay specialists have different statuses in the parishes,
performing several specialized roles for which the Sacrament of Holy Orders
(Ordination) was formerly thought necessary. Research questions were grounded on
two general hypotheses: 1) Catholic parishes are threatened by breakdown in families,
disappearance of Catholic education (schools), and erosion in distinct Catholic beliefs
and practices; and 2) the presence of lay specialists performing their services
increases parishioners’ involvement and financial contributions to the parish, which,
in turn, necessarily contribute to the stability and/or survival of the parish.
The hypotheses were tested in a cross-sectional survey of 1,293 participants
from four parishes. The data indicate that some parishioners do in fact seek out the
lay specialists for help for personal or domestic problems. Lay specialists interpret the
problems in terms of Catholic beliefs and practices. In addition, they provide Catholic
education to children as well as adults and they increase parishioners’ involvement
in the parish. Of particular interest, the intensity of interaction with lay specialists
emerged as a significant predictor of increased financial contributions to the parish.
The study analyzes these patterns in a human materialist paradigm. When open
systems are threatened by environmental or cultural forces, they may respond to these
forces by elaborating their structures to more complex levels. From the research in
four Catholic parishes, the author of this study maintains that the lay specialists are
the new phenomenon that is emerging to respond to the social forces that threaten the
stability and/or survival of the Catholic parishes.
xv

CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
Specialists are found in nearly all religions. Specialists who manifested some
evidence of spirit interactions or other religious activities have such titles as shamans,
mediums, diviners, priests, seers, gurus, and prophets. Anthropologists have
investigated the characteristics and functions of these religious specialists. Eliade
(1964) studied the technique of Siberian shamans, who interacted with the spirit
world on behalf of the people, particularly in healing, divination, protection, and
finding game animals. Other researchers such as Hultkranz (1973) and Siikala (1978)
have found similar functional characteristics of the shamans: fighting spirits and
defending the psychic integrity of the community.
The types of religious specialists change according to the ecological and
cultural conditions of the societies in which they were found (Halifax, 1975).
Shamans are found primarily in hunting and gathering or fishing societies with no
political interaction beyond the local level. The shamanistic practices changed as
societal conditions changed in the transformation from hunting and gathering to
agricultural societies (Winkelman, 1992). Shamans’ roles developed with the
disintegration of the clan system and the stratification of the community (Siikala,
1978). Mediums are found in agricultural societies with political integration beyond
1

2
the level of the local community (Lewis, 1971). Priests are found in societies with
centralized authority and a hierarchy that are integrated with the political structure of
the society. The priests work as community leaders propitiating supernatural beings
on behalf of the community (Winkelman, 1992). Their priestly functions include
divining, magic, and teaching with other specialized roles such as judge and
magistrate (McKenzie, 1965). How the functional characteristics of the specialists in
religion change in correspondence to the cultural and ecological factors of the society
are documented in anthropology (Durkheim, 1961; Berreman, 1971; Harris, 1988).
These data indicate that religions contain features and patterns which belong to or are
intimately associated with the cultural core and, therefore, arise out of environmental
adaptations (Winkelman, 1992).
The Catholic Church as an organized religion has specialists. Traditionally,
there are three levels of specialists distinguished by the ritual or Sacrament of Holy
Orders: episcopate (bishop), presbyterate (priest), and diaconate (deacon). Bishop,
priest, and deacon, all of whom have received the Sacrament of Holy Orders, have a
mandate to serve people in the area of their special ministry. The bishop is the chief
of the Catholic diocese that consists of several parishes usually headed by a priest.
Working with the bishop or a priest, the deacon serves the people. Ordinarily, priests
function as religious specialists in the Catholic parishes. Their several titles such as
confessor, teacher, counselor, social worker, administrator, spiritual director, and
head of the Liturgical (ritual) celebration speak for their multiple tasks in the parish.

3
When parish priests, even with the assistance of deacons, find themselves
overwhelmed by these tasks, they seek help from volunteer associations such as the
Rosary Society, the Catholic Family Movement, and the Altar Society (Dolan, 1985).
The laity, as volunteers in these associations, perform several services of spiritual and
social nature in the parish. They obey the Church authorities and contribute
financially to the maintenance of the parish priests and activities (Dolan, 1985). The
laity’s involvement in the parish is primarily directed and supervised by the parish
priests. The laity are in the parish to help the priests.
However, the Second Vatican Council that took place from 1962-1965 brought
a change in the importance of the laity in the Church. The laity as a “different caste”
in the Church was changed by retrieving the Early Christian concept of the Church
as a “people of God” (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Chapter II). This
concept, “people of God,” incorporated all the baptized, the laity and clergy. The
ritual or Sacrament of Baptism was marked as the common denominator between the
laity and clergy. As a result, the laity were encouraged to undertake tasks in the parish
on their own initiatives, reveal their particular needs and desires to the parish priests,
and participate in the Church’s Mission in the secular world, by reason of their
knowledge and competence (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Chapter IV). As
a result, the laity became more involved than they had been before Vatican H. They
help with the activities connected with the Liturgy, which were considered the sole
domain of the priests: the reading from the Scriptures and the distribution of

4
Communion. They conduct Communion-service (a devotional practice of prayer in
which the Scripture is read and consecrated host is given out to the communicants)
in the parish church, when there is no priest available to celebrate the Mass. They
participate in the parish democratic structures such as Parish Council and Finance
Council. They take the initiative to form small voluntary groups for a specific
purpose, such as prayer, Bible study, and hospital ministry.
Several researchers have studied the lay activities in the parish. Some
attributed the laity’s greater involvement in the parish to the decrease in number of
priests (Schoenherr & Sorenson, 1982; Gilmore, 1986). Some ascribed lay ministry
to the ideology rooted in the ritual of Baptism, which calls for a shared responsibility
in the Church (Hardon,1981; Whitehead, 1986). Still, others interpreted lay
participation in the parish as an accommodation to the democratic trend in the society
(Gleason, 1970; Lenski & Lenski, 1987; Seidler & Myer, 1989). All this indicates that
in the past three decades, lay involvement in Catholic parishes has emerged as a topic
of scientific inquiry.
There is, however, a new emerging phenomenon I observed in Catholic
parishes that remains relatively unexamined. I call this phenomenon the “lay
specialists.” These are specialists in the parishes who do not belong to the clan of the
ordained specialists (priests). I observed this phenomenon, lay persons assigned to
specialized roles in a parish, during the three years (1990-1993) I worked in St.
Benedict parish as a priest. During these years, I completed my course work for the

5
doctoral degree in anthropology at the University of Florida and began in 1994 this
research on lay specialists in four Catholic parishes in Gilmer, a pseudonymous
Florida community. Lay specialists work in the parish, but do not belong to the
category of parish lay volunteers. They are males and females, married or single,
employed full-time or part-time in the parishes. The majority have formal education
and training with certification in some traditions of Catholicism; others have special
skills for the work in the parish. They perform several specialized tasks for which
being ordained with the Sacrament of Holy Orders was once considered necessary.
My observations of their work led me to document both change and continuity in the
four Catholic parishes in Gilmer. I found change in the fact that there are lay
specialists mediating between people and religion. Traditionally, priests were the
primary religious specialists who taught theology, provided preparations for the
Sacraments, gave spiritual direction, counseled families and individuals with severe
relational problems, assisted the sick and dying, led liturgical celebration, and
administered parish personnel and volunteers. Now, the majority of these specialized
tasks are performed by the lay specialists. The dynamics of interaction between
parishioners and priests have changed. The priests’ direct contact with the
parishioners is substantially narrowed to the celebration of Mass and Sacraments.
Parish lay volunteers, who used to work under the direction and supervision of the
priests, are working now under the lay specialists.

6
Research Questions and General Hypotheses
These observations led me further to ask the following research questions: who
are the lay specialists? How are they differentiated from the laity? What is the nature
of their tasks in the parish? What are the domains of their services to the parishioners?
What are the impacts of their specialized tasks in the parish? These questions led me
to formulate the following general guiding assumptions:
1) Catholic parish organization is threatened by breakdown in families,
disappearance of Catholic education, and erosion in distinctive Catholic beliefs and
practices. Such a situation demands “specialized services” rather than the “general
services” in the parishes traditionally given by the priests. The lay specialists meet
such demands by their expertise in a particular area of specialization.
2) Lay specialists’ specialized services increase parishioners’ involvement and
financial contributions to the parish. These, in return, necessarily contribute to the
stability and/or survival of the parish.
Theoretical Perspective
The following is a brief discussion of the theoretical underpinnings that guided
my study. I based my analysis on Human Materialism as formulated by Paul
Magnarella (1993) as a strategy for analyzing sociocultural systems. Although this
strategy contains the vestiges of several traditions of scholars, such as Emile
Durkheim, Max Weber, Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Marvin
Hams, and Alfred Adler, it logically integrates the different elements of their work

7
to address three central problems: 1) how ongoing sociocultural systems function, 2)
why they function as they do, and 3) how they change through time.
Magnarella (1993) pointedly explains that “the human materialist conception
of a sociocultural system contains an asymmetric structure comprised of
infrastructural, social structural, and superstructural components” (p. 4). The
infrastructure consists of three substructures: material, human, and social. The
material infrastructure includes technology, tools, machinery, productive capital
equipment, modes of production, and the productively relevant parts of science, as
well as environmental resources and factors. The human infrastructure includes
demographics of the people. The social infrastructure includes the effective ownership
and control of the forces of production, as well as the persons in positions of
economic and political power and the positions they hold.
The social structure includes all forms of social organization: family and
kinship organization, political, religious, economic organization, and work relations.
The superstructure includes the ideologies, rituals, and symbols associated with
various organizations in the social structure and those of rival or alternative
ideologies, rituals, and symbols espoused by rival, minority, or marginal members of
the population. One of the most basic tenets of Human Materialism is the dynamism
that is operative within, between, and among the three major components.
Human Materialism as a strategy is used here to analyze the four Catholic
parishes as sociocultural systems. These parishes function and change through the

8
responses they make to the human problem domains such as the drive to satisfy
hunger, spouse/partner or parent/child bonding, a need for social or religious
affiliation and identity, feelings of love, hostility, pride, shame and sorrow, loneliness,
and the parishioner’s susceptibility to indoctrination by ideologies. Catholic parishes
are open systems. They respond to cultural or environmental intrusions by elaborating
their structures to more complex levels. According to Darwinian principle, any system
that is non-adaptive runs the risk of extinction. It is a basic assumption that people
would behave to further their own well-being by optimizing perceived benefits, be
they material, affective, or spiritual (Magnarella, 1993). In this study, I attempt to
show that the changes which have occurred in the Catholic parishes correspond to the
degree of responses made by the individual parishes to the problems that threaten the
infrastructural component of the parish. I show how these changes are validated by
the ideologies of Vatican n.
Human Materialism is positivistic and scientific in its approach. Human beings
are conceptualized as rational, cost/benefit calculating, emotional, loving, and hating.
They are social beings capable of being indoctrinated to some degree in ideological,
ritual, and symbolic systems which, in turn, influence their thought, behavior, and
perceptions of their natural and sociocultural environments. I have observed,
measured, and described such human characteristics or behaviors in this study.

9
The Survey Design
The purpose of my survey design is to generalize from a sample to a
population so that inferences can be made about some attitude, or behavior, and belief
of this population. From my preliminary interviews with the parishioners in 1994,1
found that the lay specialists’ services were in two areas: 1) human and 2) spiritual.
They help the parishioners with relational, emotional, and personal problems such as
spouse/partner, self-worth/esteem, and loneliness. In the spiritual realm, the lay
specialists’ help includes the religious education, the practices, and the beliefs of the
parishioners. Therefore, my survey design is intended primarily to identify the human
problems, the religious beliefs, and practices of a sample Catholic group and later to
test if there is any noticeable impact of the lay specialists’ services on the
parishioners’ involvement in the parish, adherence to religious beliefs and practices,
and financial contributions. A cross-sectional survey was used to determine the
sample populations’ human problems, religious beliefs and practices, involvement in
the parish, and financial contribution.
The sites of this study were four Catholic parishes, St. Thomas, St. Benedict,
St. Justin, and St. Francis, in a Florida community with a population of approximately
97,700. These parishes (the names of which are fictitious) differ in demographics: St.
Thomas is the oldest parish in town with a large retired and elderly population. St.
Benedict is a parish as well as student center; it tends to focus on the spiritual growth
of the faculty and students from the two major educational institutions in town, a

10
university and a community college. The remaining two parishes, St. Justin and St.
Francis, have predominantly families and children. These four parishes differ in the
percentages of parish tasks performed by lay specialists: St. Thomas has the least
(18.2%), St. Benedict has the largest (65.2%), and St. Justin and St. Francis have the
same level (42.9%). These variations that I found in the demographic factors and the
tasks of the lay specialists add an element of comparative depth to this research.
The selection of a sample group from each parish was based on availability of
the parishioners and their convenience. In my preliminary interviews with the pastors
of the parishes, I learned that the parish records that keep the memberships of the
parishioners do not match the actual attendance of the people in the Church. That is
to say, more people attend the Church than what the membership records indicates.
It is estimated that only about 70% of the Church attenders register their names in the
parish. And those who are registered do not inform the parish office when they
change their addresses and telephone numbers. Besides, registered Catholics have the
option of going to any parish they like in or out of town. Considering these issues in
the selection of a sample population from four parishes, I used the following method.
I administered the questionnaire only to those Catholics aged 18 and older, who
attended Mass on one weekend in each of the four parishes. I chose a time period
when there was the least amount of distraction in town, such as a football game, an
art festival, or a parade. I assumed that those who attend these weekend Masses are
in the habit of attending Mass on Sundays. My assumption was supported by survey

11
results. A vast majority (84%) of those who participated in the survey indicated that
they attend Mass weekly. The distribution of weekend Masses in Gilmer is as follows:
St. Thomas 3, St. Benedict 6, St. Justin 5, and St. Francis 3. All in all, attendees at 17
weekend Masses were asked to be voluntary participants in the questionnaire. The
participants had two options. They could either fill out the questionnaire immediately
after the Mass in the parish community hall or rooms (pencils and questionnaires
were kept ready there) or take a questionnaire home, then mail it to me in the postage-
paid envelope. The total number of participants was 1,293. The distribution by parish
was as follows: St. Thomas 203, St. Benedict 404, St. Justin 393, and St. Francis 293.
Of the respondents, 1,190 (92%) filled out the questionnaires soon after the weekend
Masses, and 103 (8%) took the questionnaires home and mailed them back to me (220
questionnaires were taken home, but only 103 were returned). There were no
noticeable differences in the responses to the questionnaires between those that were
filled out in the community hall or rooms and those that had been taken home and
returned by mail. It is possible that those who took them home spent more time to
respond to the questionnaire. However, there was no evident difference in them
except that some were more legible. In interpreting these data, it must be remembered
that the sample consists of Catholics who actually attend Mass. Catholics who rarely
or never attend Mass are not in my sample. It can be presumed that their levels of
belief and observance are lower than the levels found in my sample.

12
One might attribute the good turnout to the survey to my status as a Catholic
priest. While I agree there may be some element of truth to this, I do not attribute the
willingness of the people only to my status. Gilmer is considered a college town with
thousands of students and faculty who are constantly involved in surveys and
interviews. I was informed that the Catholic parishes are often targeted for interviews
and surveys among the parishioners. People in parishes are used to filling out
questionnaires and to helping the students who pursue serious study. I interpret the
large number of the people who participated in my survey as simply showing
compassion and regard for research students. My interpretation that I did not receive
special attention is supported by the number of return-mail questionnaires. Of those
220 questionnaires that were taken home, only 103 were returned to me. “Priestly
status” was not operative as an influence here, but, I think for sure, there was
compassion.
Instrumentation
The instrument used in data collection was self-designed after a series of
preliminary interviews (18 in total) with different groups, the parishioners, lay
specialists, and parish priests. I used the method of participant observation in as many
aspects (religious, social, small group, large gatherings) of parish community
activities as possible. I conducted scheduled in-depth interviews with the lay
specialists and recorded their stories on a total of 15 tapes. I interviewed the priests
to learn about the dynamics of interactions between the lay specialists and the

13
parishioners. The priests and the lay specialists became accustomed to my paper,
pencil, and questions, and they seemed accustomed to the possibility of an impromptu
interview. I recorded my observations and thoughts in the journal I kept and updated
it periodically. I clipped newspaper and magazine articles to present national data on
human problems, religious beliefs, and practices.
For the purpose of this study, I formulated the following eight variables that
I considered important based on my observations: 1) demographic factors, 2) religious
beliefs, 3) religious practices, 4) human problems, 5) parishioners’ involvement in the
parish, and 6) parishioners’ weekly financial contribution to the parish, 7) lay
specialists as “examples” for the parishioners, and 8) parishioners’ satisfaction with
lay specialists’ services. A copy of the questionnaire appears in the Appendix.
Demographic factors in the study consisted of the most common independent
research variables: parish, gender, age, education, Catholic education, marital status,
and income. Gender emerged as a predictor of noticeable differences in human
problems, religious beliefs and practices, parishioners’ involvement in the parish, and
lay specialists’ as examples. Age was correlated with differences in human problems,
religious beliefs and practices, parishioners’ involvement in the parish, and lay
specialists as examples. The variable education also covaried with differences in
human problems and lay specialists as examples. Catholic education was treated as
a variable to measure noticeable differences in lay specialists as examples. The
variable marital status was treated to find significant differences in human problems

14
and lay specialists as examples. Income was a predictable variable for parishioners’
seeking help from the lay specialists and making financial contributions to the parish.
My measure of religious beliefs, taken from the official teaching of the
Catholic Church, consists of 13 items divided into three categories: 1) five items
related to the core beliefs (nature of the spirit world), 2) six items related to ethical
and moral beliefs, and 3) two items related to traditional Church practices. Religious
beliefs were analyzed by the independent variables, gender and age group. The
purpose of analysis was to indicate the levels of beliefs of the sample group. The
strategy of analysis is presented in Chapter 4. It was assumed that religious beliefs are
important for people who seek meaning and understanding about human problems as
well as to maintain an identity in the religion.
Religious practices in this study represent the universal practices of the Church
in parishes. They consist of 17 items, divided into three categories: 1) three items in
the core Catholic Sacraments, 2) eight items in the Catholic sacramentáis, and 3) six
items in the general Christian practices. Religious practices were analyzed by the
independent variables, gender and age group. The purpose of analysis was to indicate
the levels of practices among the sample population. Chapter 5 presents the strategy
employed for the analysis of religious practices. It was assumed that religious
practices are expressions of beliefs; they are important to persons seeking comfort and
strength from religion. These persons who interact with the lay specialists on human

15
problems also are helped in their beliefs and practices. The religious beliefs and
practices constitute the religious setting for the parishioners’ Christian spirituality.
The list of 14 human problems in this study represent the major life problems
named by the sample population. In order to strengthen the face validity of these
items, I repeated the list of problems three times to investigate: 1) whether a particular
item has been a problem, 2) whether they had sought help from the lay specialists or
priests on that particular problem, and 3) whether they engaged in prayer about that
particular problem. Human problems are analyzed by parish, gender, age group,
education, and marital status. The purpose of my analysis was to indicate the level of
problems confronted by the sample population, as well as the means of help they seek
through prayer and help of the lay specialists. The help of the lay specialists (as well
as of the priests) on human problems is indicated in this study by other terms such as
“interactions” and “services.” I use “interaction” with the lay specialists that took
place on the occasions of human problems as an independent variable to measure the
influence or impact of lay specialists on respondents’ involvement in the parish
programs, adherence to religious beliefs and practices, and financial contributions.
Human problems constitute the sociocultural setting for the parishioners’ Christian
spirituality.
The instrument to measure parishioners’ involvement in the parish consists of
14 items, each representing a program presently operating in the sample Catholic
parishes. These items were analyzed by parish, gender, and age group to indicate the

16
degree of involvement in each parish by gender and age group. The influence of lay
specialists on respondents’ involvement in the parish was measured by the
independent variable “lay index” (levels of interactions with the lay specialists on
human problems). I created the variable “priest-index” for comparative purposes to
examine whether the respondents interacted more with the lay specialists or priests
concerning their problems. A comparative analysis is presented between the findings
on these two variables.
The respondents financial contributions could conceptually be considered part
of respondents’ involvement in the parishes. I have treated it separately. The analysis
required looking at three elements: 1) the mean weekly contribution in each sample
parish, 2) the mean weekly contribution of those who sought help from the parish, and
3) the mean weekly contribution of the respondents in relation to the income
categories. The purpose of this analysis was to find 1) the difference in contribution
between those who sought help and those who did not seek help from the parish, 2)
which income category interacts with the lay specialists, and 3) future trends
(prediction) between seeking help from the parish and financial contribution.
The item, lay specialists, as “examples” for the parishioners, was measured and
analyzed in two parts: 1) as examples for seeking greater involvement in the parish
and 2) as examples for seeking a connection between daily life experiences and faith
traditions. The analysis includes the variables parish, gender, and age group. The
purpose of analysis was to indicate the levels of appreciation of the positions of lay

17
specialists in the parishes. It was assumed that an “exemplary” way of giving services
would elicit a sense of appreciation from those who benefit from the services.
The parishioners’ satisfaction was measured and analyzed in the following two
steps: 1) those who had an opinion on 16 items of services of the lay specialists and
2) among those who had an opinion, differentiating the satisfied from the dissatisfied.
The strategy for analysis includes rating scales. The purpose is to indicate the level
of parishioner satisfaction about the services of lay specialists in the sample parishes.
In the tradition of anthropology, evaluation of a program is carried out to determine
if that program is satisfactory to the recipients.
Organization of the Study
I organized my data in keeping with my objectives. Chapter 2 presents the
infrastructural components of the four Catholic parishes from where this research
sample was collected The demographic factors are presented in order to highlight the
significant differences of the four sample parishes. A brief history of lay persons’
involvement in Catholic parishes in the United States is presented The socioeconomic
profile of each sample parish calls for specific kinds of services from the parish
specialists (lay specialists as well as the priests). The validating ideologies of the
Second Vatican Council presented in this chapter are crucial in explaining the laity’s
involvement in the parishes today.
Chapter 3 presents the human problems of the sample population. Social forces
affect every population or group of people; Catholics are not exempted. They share

18
in the human problems of the society. I indicate the major human problems of the
research sample. These problems differ according to the demographic factors. Some
problems are gender based; others are centered on age. Education and marital status
have a special relation to particular problems. Males, females, and persons of
different age groups and status seek help on human problems from the parish
specialists.
In Chapter 4,1 present the religious beliefs of the sample population. Religious
beliefs are assumed to give identity to a particular religious group, differentiating it
from other religious groups. A strong religious belief provides a meaning or
understanding of life experience. I present Catholic beliefs under three categories to
indicate that all beliefs add to the Catholic identity of the parishioners. The impact of
environmental forces is seen in the beliefs of the sample population. The Catholic
parishes offer services to maintain Catholic beliefs and to interpret human problems
in light of them.
Chapter 5 traces the religious practices of the sample population. Religious
practices are meaningful (at least emically) only in terms of the beliefs one possesses
in life. A strong belief is assumed to increase the intensity of one’s religious practices
and a weak belief to lessen the interest in religious practices. I present the religious
practices of the sample population under three categories: some are core Catholic
beliefs, which give a distinct Catholic identity to the believer; some are Catholic

19
sacramentáis, which are primarily devotional practice; and some are general Christian
practices, which are practiced by people of other Christian denominations.
Chapters 6, 7, and 8 are the crucial parts of this research. Lay specialists and
their specialized services are the nucleus of these chapters. In Chapter 6,1 present a
descriptive definition of the lay specialists from three perspectives: specialization,
recognition, and remuneration. The case examples from the lay specialists highlight
some of their special characteristics in the parishes. All four sample parishes have lay
specialists, but not in the same numbers. On the basis of the essential tasks performed
by the lay specialists, parishes are grouped into three types: Type One—Traditional
parish, Type Two—Transitional parish, and Type Three—Transformed parish. The
tasks of the lay specialists and the dynamics of interaction between them and the
priests differ in each type of parish.
Chapter 7 presents an ethnographic detail about what the lay specialists are
actually doing in the parishes. I have presented the specific roles of the lay specialists
that I found in the sample parishes in the following areas: liturgy, spirituality,
religious education, marriage and family, music, youth, and the rite of Christian
initiation of adults (RCIA). The descriptive presentation of the individual tasks of the
lay specialists explains how they are helping the parishioners with human problems,
and contributing to the personal Christian spirituality of the respondents.
In Chapter 8,1 address the important question about the lay specialists in the
sample parishes: Does the presence of these lay specialists exert any impact on the

20
religious lives of the parishioners? My strategy for answering the question is
explained. As indicated above, “interaction” with the lay specialists on human
problems is treated as the independent variable. Several aspects of the religious life
of the respondents, such as their involvement in parish programs, adherence to
religious beliefs and practices, and financial contributions are treated as dependent
variables. The “theoretical framework” of my choice of these dependent variables
derives from the two ideologies of the Second Vatican Council. From the ideologies,
I have identified two domains that serve as the dependent variables: 1) the
parishioners’ involvement in the parishes and 2) the parishioners’ adherence to their
Christian spirituality through their daily life. Through analysis of my survey data, I
present the answer to the question of whether the presence of the lay specialists
impacts parishioners in 1) their involvement in the parish and 2) their personal
Christian spirituality. The parishioners’ financial contributions are analyzed in terms
of their interactions with the lay specialists. Though lay specialists differ from the
parishioners, they share in the same “vocation” of the parishioners. I assumed that
their positions of service in the parish would be examples to the parishioners. This
assumption was tested and analyzed by two statements: 1) the lay specialists are
examples for seeking a greater involvement in the parish and 2) the lay specialists are
examples for seeking a connection between life experiences and faith traditions. As
a final analysis, I present the results of the parishioners’ satisfaction with the services

21
of the lay specialists. The level of satisfaction was drawn only from the parishioners
who had formed some opinions about the services.
In Chapter 9, I present the findings of this sample research with the
consideration of the likely trends in the Catholic parishes in the United States. Are the
parishioners more likely to get involved in the parishes, if they interact with the lay
specialists? Does the lay specialists’ services in the parishes increase the financial
contributions of the parishioners? Would the services of the lay specialists impact
parishioners’ Christian spirituality? Do the parishioners consider lay specialists as
their examples to commit more to the parish and find meaning between life
experiences and faith traditions (beliefs and practices). Does parishioners’ satisfactory
level match the number of essential tasks performed by the lay specialists in the
parishes? Through analysis of my survey data I have answered these questions in this
chapter. I conclude this chapter with a pragmatic question: Do the parishes need the
lay specialists? My conclusions are positive because the positions of lay specialists
in the survey parishes 1) give specialized services to the parish individuals and
families, 2) cause greater involvement of the parishioners, and 3) increase the weekly
financial contribution in the parish.
This study has been fascinating to me because of my own ministry as an
ordained specialist. My life as a graduate student and work in a parish offered me
opportunities to learn and to observe the changes that are currently taking place in the
Catholic parishes in the Unites States. Among the several changes I observed in the

22
States, this change, namely the emerging phenomenon of lay specialists in the
parishes, touches the very core of the parish organization: the infrastructural
(parishioners, their involvement in the parish, and their financial contribution), and
the superstructural (their faith traditions: beliefs and practices) components. The lay
specialists’ influences on the above components were researched, tested, and analyzed
for this study. This study indicates a “direction of change” that is taking place in the
social structural components of Catholic parish organization. The study contributes
to the body of anthropological literature in “development studies” which has an
element of cultural and comparative depth. Religious identity of an organization can
be threatened by the environmental forces changing organizational customs and
beliefs. The emergence of lay specialists in the Catholic parishes could contribute to
the stability and/or survival of the organization and to the preservation of distinct
identity of the organization. Although it would have been interesting to compare the
beliefs and practices of Catholics to those of members of other Christian groups in the
community, this was not possible in view of the total absence of comparative data.

CHAPTER 2
SOCIOECONOMIC PROFILE OF THE CATHOLIC RESEARCH SAMPLE
Historical Antecedents
The Catholic Parish
The Catholic parish, a geographic division, is perceived as the community of
Christian faithful who hold common religious beliefs and participate in the
celebration of rituals known as Sacraments. The parish church is a place where they
gather regularly on Sundays and special days of religious obligation to participate in
the Mass that is upheld as the center of the Catholic religion. The most recent code
of Canon Law, 1983, defined the Catholic parish as
... a certain community of Christ’s faithful stably
established within a particular Church (which means the
diocese) whose pastoral care, under the authority of the
diocesan bishop, is entrusted to a priest as its proper
pastor. (Canon Law; 515, p.92)
This definition has three possible elements for understanding the Catholic parish: 1)
The parish is a community of Christian faithful; 2) the parish has a stable basis in a
diocese; thus it is linked to the authority of the bishop, the chief of the diocese; 3) the
parish is under the authority of a “pastor,” which in Latin means shepherd.
23

24
Membership in the Catholic Church comes through the Sacrament of Baptism
received either as a child or as an adult. If a person already baptized in other Christian
denominations wishes to become a Catholic, he or she is received into the Catholic
Church through a comprehensive process called the Rite of Christian Initiation of
Adults (R.CIA), which I describe later. Membership in a local parish is determined
either by residency within the territory of a parish and/or by a formal registration.
During my initial interviews with the local parish pastors, I learned that only about
60% of the parishioners usually register their names in the parishes. Membership in
a local parish does not prohibit anyone from frequenting the other parishes. In fact,
to the survey question, “What parish do you belong to?” an average of 10 persons in
each parish, about 3% of the respondents, had said that they belong to the “other”—
that is, to a parish that is not within the survey area. Some of them had written the
name of the parish to which they belong. From the names of such parishes, it was
easy to determine that the respondents had come from the neighboring Catholic
parishes situated within 30 to 50 miles from Gilmer. However, for the reception of
Sacraments such as Marriage and children’s Baptism, Catholics customarily approach
the parish which they claim as their own.
The parish is not thought of as existing apart from the diocese. Normally, a
parish covers a specified geographical territory of the diocese, and it serves all the
faithful of that territory. However, the Catholic Church allows the establishment of
non-territorial parishes by reason of the rite, language, or nationality of the faithful

25
of a certain territory (Canon Law, 518). A cluster of parishes and its chief, the bishop,
make up the diocese.
The priest, known as the pastor, is in charge of the parish. He carries out his
role as the spiritual leader of the parish, as spelled out in the Canonical language: by
teaching, sanctifying, and ruling in collaboration with the other priests and lay
members in the parish (Canon Law, 519). The terms teaching, sanctifying, and ruling
denote the triple responsibilities of the pastor who 1) transmits the teachings of the
Church to his parishioners through homilies, religious education, and adult education;
2) administers the Sacraments that are specified for the different life cycles of the
parishioners; and 3) manages the parish properties, such as the church, office
buildings, rectory, and school. The pastor may be assisted by one or several other
priests who were formally called curates and are now known as parochial vicars.
Besides, the pastor may have a lay staff that usually consists of a secretary, a religious
education director, a music director, and a sacristan who take care of the material
things and arrangements for the celebration of Sacraments.
The lay members (laity) make up the congregation of the parish. The Second
Vatican Council (1962-1965) has highlighted the importance of the laity in the parish.
The Council has construed the laity’s role as to 1) seek greater participation for the
Church Mission in the secular world according to their abilities and the needs of the
time; 2) reveal with freedom and confidence their particular needs and desires; 3)
undertake tasks on their own initiative for the good of the Church; 4) give prudent

26
advice to pastors; 5) propose suggestions and manifest their opinions by reason of
their particular knowledge, competence, or outstanding ability on those things which
pertain to the good of the Church (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Chapter IV).
The history of Catholicism in the United States shows that the laity were involved in
the service of the Catholic parishes long before the Second Vatican Council. For the
immigrant Catholics, the parish was a stable base in which to live and work. They
could preserve their ethnic identity, and practice their religion. Therefore, before I
present the socioeconomic profile of the four survey parishes, I delineate some of the
salient features which mark the history of Catholicism as well as the lay involvement
in the Catholic parishes in the United States.
Early Ethnic Catholicism: Lav Involvement
Historians have evidence showing that Catholicism was first brought to what
is now the United States by the Spanish Missionaries, headed by the explorer Juan
Ponce Leon. The first parish was established in Florida in 1565 at St. Augustine
(Gannon, 1983; McNally, 1984). The Spanish Missionaries worked for the next two
centuries among the Indians and established missions across the southern and western
regions of the country. The French Missionaries, who traveled south from Canada,
converted the Indians to Catholicism in the Northeastern and Midwestern States
(Walch, 1989). The lasting legacy of these Spanish and French Missionaries is seen
in a string of missions that have become the sites for major American modem cities

27
such as Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, San Antonio, New Orleans, St. Louis, and San
Francisco, among others (Dolan, 1985).
The English Catholics who suffered persecution in the Church of England
escaped at the risk of perilous ocean voyage and established a settlement in Maryland
in 1634. This New World colony for English Catholics seems to have enjoyed a large
measure of religious freedom. The denominational equality was codified by the
Maryland Assembly in several laws culminating in the “Act Concerning Religion” of
1649 (Walch, 1989). Historians view this Act as an important step in the long struggle
for religious freedom in this country. In 1654 a Puritan-dominated assembly repealed
the toleration act of 1649. Several Catholics were put to death, and the Jesuit priests
who served these Catholics were persecuted. Although a little measure of religious
tolerance was restored in 1660, it did not endure. In 1688 the Anglican Church was
established as the state church of Maryland.
The place of Catholicism in colonial Maryland was not a public affair. There
were no churches or parishes. Catholics gathered in homes and attended Sunday
Masses celebrated by the Jesuit missionaries. Common religious practices on Sundays
and holy days created a bond by which they trusted one another, intermarried,
supported businesses and thus collectively supported the Church. The typical Catholic
community was rural and consisted of twelve to twenty families that lived close to
one another. However, the Catholic communities in Maryland began to increase in
size as well as in visibility during the eighteenth century. By the eve of the American

28
Revolution in 1776, the Catholic Church had become an institution in Maryland
(Walch, 1989).
The American Revolution brought about changes in the status of Catholics.
Both Catholics and non-Catholics united to seek independence from England.
Military assistance to the colonies which fought the British armies was provided by
Catholic France. According to Walch (1989) men like George Washington and
Thomas Jefferson detested bigotry of any kind; they attacked religious prejudice
generally and anti-Catholicism specifically, for the colonies were to be a new nation
based on the principle that all people are equal.
With the end of the war in 1783, Catholics were free to practice their faith
without any fear or domination from outside. They were “Americans.” In order to
strengthen their unity and preserve their identity as American Catholics, the Pope
appointed Father John Carroll in 1784 as Superior of the American Catholic Missions
(Dolan, 1985). Carroll responded to the needs of the renewed interest in Catholicism
and formed new Catholic parishes. As the European seminaries found it difficult to
meet the demand for priests in America, Carroll proposed to establish a national
Catholic academy and seminary. At the same time, Carroll encouraged the laity to
take a greater role in the affairs of the parishes.
The laity undertook many of the tasks necessary to meet the temporal needs
of the parishes. They were involved in the organization and the government of parish
communities. Many Catholic communities elected leadership committees, collected

29
funds, purchased land, constructed church buildings, and provided for their
maintenance (Walch, 1989).
This “congregation-model” which was operative among their Protestant neighbors in
matters of church administration was known also as the lay trustee system of parish
government. This model, however, created friction between lay trustees and bishops
because it was a substantial shift from the way the Roman Catholic church
traditionally operated. Since Roman Catholic custom and law gave that authority
exclusively to bishops, very serious conflicts between lay trustees and bishops, often
resulting in excommunication, interdict, and schism, developed throughout the
Northeast (Dolan, 1985).
The laity committed themselves to the establishment and support of ethnic
parochial schools. Catholics felt the need to have Catholic schools in order to attain
their chosen goals: 1) protection of the religiosity and ethnicity of Catholic children
and 2) reinforcement of the positive self-identity of Church and home (McAvoy,
1968). For these reasons the immigrant Catholics contributed their hard-earned dollars
for the establishment and support of parochial schools (Walch, 1989). Besides the
parochial schools in their national parishes, the immigrants preserved their cultural
heritage by having their own theaters, recreational activities, amusements, trade
unions, and charitable institutions (Dolan, 1985). However, the changes that were
taking place in both church and society challenged the Catholics to make a shift from
ethnic interest to American Catholicism.

30
From Ethnic Catholicism^, American Catholicism
The year 1789 was marked by two important events that profoundly affected
the course of American Catholicism in the United States. In April, George
Washington became the first President of the United States and under his
administration religious liberty as one of the principles of Bill of Rights was codified.
On November 16, the Vatican appointed John Carroll as the first Catholic bishop in
the United Sates (Dolan, 1985; Walch, 1989).
Bishop Carroll committed himself to the education of future clergy and lay
leaders. He established Georgetown Academy in 1789 and called upon the Catholics
to support the institution. It was his hope that the institution would mold lay leaders
who would return home and educate other Catholics both by word and example. With
the arrival of the Sulpician priests in the United States, Carroll planned to establish
a seminary. In 1791, he opened St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore to educate native
clergy under the administration of the Sulpicion missionary priests.
The arrival of Irish and German Catholic immigrants in Boston, New York,
and Philadelphia increased the need for more dioceses and priests. In 1808, Baltimore
was made the archdiocese and new dioceses were established at Boston, New York,
Philadelphia, and Bardstown in frontier Kentucky (Dolan, 1985). The shortage of
priests in the dioceses was compensated for by the emerging communities of women’s
religious orders such as the Daughters of Charity, the Visitation Sisters, the
Carmelites, and the Sisters of Loretto. Several religious orders responded to requests

31
to establish schools in the parishes and to found other social institutions like hospitals
and asylums.
Dramatic demographic shifts took place during the mid-nineteenth century
because of the tremendous influx of immigrants from Ireland and Germany. Walch
(1989) documented the impact on cities as immigrants tended to settle in certain
areas. For example, by 1850 the Irish settled in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and
Baltimore. When the railroads moved West to the cities of Buffalo, Cleveland,
Detroit, Chicago, and Milwaukee, so also the Irish moved. They helped to build
railroads that connected these cities with the East. The Germans settled in the so-
called “German Triangle”—the region roughly bordered by the cities of Cincinnati,
St. Louis, and Milwaukee. For the majority of these immigrants, the Catholic parish
was the focal point of their religious practices, as well as preserving their native
language and culture. The organization of Catholicism in general during the
nineteenth century mirrored the ethnic and social composition of the population.
Such organization of Catholicism precipitated challenges and crisis in several
dioceses. The bishops provided leadership in national church issues such as liturgical
and ecclesial practices in the United States. They gave specific guidance to the laity
on social issues. However, there was tension between the role of the laity and the
authority of the bishops. According to the lay trustee-system, the laity had exerted
substantial power over local church matters. They bought land, built churches and
schools, and petitioned local bishops for the appointment of pastors of their own

32
nationality. Often they retained title to Church property, being unwilling to give up
their control to the bishops. Therefore, the bishops met in councils “to standardize
Church procedure and to remind the laity of the centrality of episcopal authority; the
unstated purpose was to emphasize that American Catholicism could rise above
regional differences to sustain itself as a national denomination” (Walch, 1989). As
a result, a gradual shift from the congregation-model to the clerical-model took place.
Walch (1989) reported that by 1885 American bishops controlled church property and
the appointment of bishops.
The Third Plenary Council of 1884 authorized the compilation of a national
catechism and the establishment of a national Catholic university. Of prime
importance was that they instructed the laity to support parish schools.
All Catholic parents are to send their children to the
parish school, noted the decree, unless it is evident that
a sufficient training in religion is given either in the
homes or in other Catholic schools. Those parishes
without schools were to build schools within two years.
(Walch, 1989, p.45)
The Congress of the United States passed an Immigration Quota Act in 1924
which ended the massive immigration of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries
(Dolan, 1985). The task of transforming the immigrants into American citizens was
left to the schools, the social agencies, and the churches. As Henry Steele Commager
said, the Catholic Church was an effective agency for democracy and
Americanization. The Catholic Church in the United States embraced the American

33
concepts of business administration. As a consequence, on the national level, the
bishops expanded their National Catholic Welfare Conference to become their
administrative arm and to provide a national voice for their collective concerns. On
the local level, a new generation of bishops used modem administrative and business
practices to restructure and reorganize their diocesan work. The Catholic hierarchy
inaugurated a concerted campaign for Americanization during and after World War
L By the end of the Second World War Catholics thought of themselves as Americans
of Irish or Italian descent rather than as Irish-Americans or Italian-Americans (Walch,
1989). This new sense of identity strengthened American Catholicism and led to a
revival in the 1940s and 1950s.
The Catholic family movement, later known as the Cana Conference, began
in St. Louis, in 1941. Its purpose was “to integrate the mundane aspects of family life
within a twentieth-century mentality both American and spiritual” (MacEoin, 1991,
p.62). The Cana Conference was enriched by the Christian Family Movement to focus
on the issues related to the family. In the 1950s, new Catholic parishes and schools
were established. Religious devotion, public piety, and vocations increased.
According to Walch (1989) and Dolan (1985), Catholics of all ages attended
Mass and participated in religious exercises in extraordinary numbers. Young couples
participated in the Cana Conference and the Christian Family Movement to strengthen
the spiritual life within the home. Catholics, generally, were moved by stories of

34
religious conversion and missionary work that appeared in the Catholic newspapers,
books, and magazines that many Catholics received in their homes each week.
The years between the 1950s and 1960s are considered to be a pivotal period
in the history of American Catholicism. Socioeconomic mobility and educational
achievement, especially since the end of the World War n, brought affluence in the
life of the Catholics. “Young Catholic veterans returned from war to attend college,
win well-paid jobs with American corporations, buy homes in the suburbs, build new
parishes, and participate in community affairs” (Walch, 1989, p.75). The parish was
the center around which several spiritual and social organizations were established
for the laity. Some of the more popular organizations were called the Altar Society,
the Rosary Society, and the Holy Name Society. These societies developed their own
constitutions and regulations, which spelled out their obligations to themselves and
others (Dolan, 1985).
The above highlights of Catholic history in the United States show that the
laity were involved in parish activities that were of religious and social character. The
level of their involvement and the kinds of their activities were supervised by the
pastors. The laity found support and a stable base in their parish communities. The
Second Vatican Council that took place in 1960s not only highlighted the importance
of the laity in the Church as we have seen above, but also introduced the ideologies
that validated the involvement of the laity in the Church and called for further
collaboration and involvement in the Church.

35
Vatican II; Emergence of New Validating Ideologies
Human Materialism (Magnarella, 1993) views “validating ideology” as a
legitimating power. It satisfies the people concerned that what they are doing or what
they are expected to do is legitimate. The Second Vatican Council pioneered two
idealogies that legitimated the lay involvement and collaboration in the Church: 1) the
Mission of the Church belongs to every baptized person; 2) everyone baptized is
called to Christian Spirituality or Holiness. The significance and implication of these
ideologies are discussed next.
1) The Mission of the Church belongs to every baptized person. Traditionally,
the Mission of the Church was thought to be the hallmark of the priests and religious.
Their work in the Church was seen as a “vocation” received from God. The duty of
witnessing to Christ and Christian fife in the world (i.e., the Mission) was considered
the role of the “chosen” (priests and religious) by God. The laity were viewed as
clients in the Church. They were considered as a different caste involved in the
worldly affairs. The two terms “in the world” and “of the world” denoted the
distinction between the clergy from laity. The clergy were seen as persons in the
world but not of the world, whereas, the laity were seen to be in the world and of the
world However, in the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church seems to have
recognized that the successful Mission of the Church, namely the obligation of
witnessing to Christ and Christian Life in the world, required the participation of the
laity. The Council said of the laity:

36
They live in the world, that is, in each and in all of the secular
professions and occupations. They live in the ordinary circumstances
of family and social life, from which the very web of their existence is
woven. They are called there by God that by exercising their proper
function and led by the Spirit of the Gospel, they may work for the
sanctification of the world from within as a leaven... . Therefore, since
they are tightly bound up in all type of temporal affairs it is their
special task to order and to throw light upon these affairs in such as
way that they may come into being and then continually increase
according to Christ to the praise of the creator and the Redeemer.
(Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 31, p.143)
This statement reveals an understanding of the nature of laity’s role in the
world. It was recognized as a “call” or “vocation” from God just as the role of the
priests and religious is a “vocation” from God. The laity’s role in the Churches was
to witness to Christ and Christian life in temporal affairs by ordering them according
to the plan of God (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, No. 31).
The ideology of the Church’s Mission was founded in the ritual of Baptism.
Baptism is traditionally believed to bring a new birth and an incorporation into the
Church symbolized as the Body of Christ. The Second Vatican Council brought
deeper understanding of the significance of Baptism. All who receive a Baptism share
in Christ’s threefold Mission to teach, to sanctify, and to govern (Dogmatic
Constitution on the Church, No. 31). This is called the Baptismal priesthood or
Common priesthood, distinguished from the Ministerial priesthood received through
the rituals of Holy Orders. Lay persons exercise their baptismal priesthood by their
life of faith, hope, and charity in the particular situation of their family and life
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1546-1547). From Vatican n, the Mission of

37
the Church has included the special roles of lay persons rooted fundamentally in the
celebration of Baptism.
There were at least two implications of this ideology. First, Baptism confers
equality of membership in the Church, which is a “people of God,” a community,
made up of all the faithful (Pope, bishops, priests, religious, laity). All members have
a role to play in the Mission of the Church, but they give a diversity of services, each
according to his or her vocation. Second, this baptismal unity was seen to be best
expressed in the community celebration of the Sacraments, especially in the Mass.
The laity was encouraged to take active participation in ways that are appropriate in
the community celebration. Closely linked to the common Mission of the Church
rooted in Baptism was the following ideology.
2) Everyone baptized is called to Christian Spirituality. The Catholic Church
in the Second Vatican Council reinterpreted the conventional understanding of
Christian Spirituality and the persons who acquire it. Christian Spirituality had been
seen as an other-worldliness, which consisted primarily in denying the present life
and concentrating on religious practices that would assure heaven. Those who
embraced religious life by the vows of poverty, obedience, and celibacy were thought
to be in a “state of perfection,” while, by comparison, the lay people were thought to
be in a less perfect state. However, the Church recognized that the impact of the
celebration of Baptism is the new birth (a new state of perfection or initial Holiness)

38
and that everyone who has been baptized has the responsibility to grow in Christian
Spirituality.
Thus it is evident to everyone, that all the faithful of
Christ of whatever rank or status, are called to the
fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of
charity. (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, No: 40,
P-152)
The Church did not establish a single mode of growth in Spirituality. Rather it called
the faithful to grow “unhesitatingly according to his or her own personal gifts and
duties in the path of living faith, which arouses hope and works to charity” (Dogmatic
Constitution on the Church, No: 41, p.152). However, the Church stated that “this
plan for the spiritual life (Holiness) of the laity should take its particular character
from their married or family state or their single or widowed state, from their state of
health, and from their professional and social activity” (Decree on the Apostolate of
the Laity, No. 4, p.340).
The setting for the Spirituality of the laity shifted from traditional places such
as shrines and pilgrim centers to work places, family homes, political offices, and
communities. The laity were encouraged to experience God not only in prayer and
Sacraments, but in all what goes on in life: the frustrations, tears, joys, laughter,
feelings, and experiences of daily life (Foley, 1995). Accordingly, a shift occurred
also from the traditional practices of piety such as novenas, rosary, fasting, and
pilgrimages to reading the Bible, centering prayer, short term retreats, spiritual

39
reading, and helping others in need. The focus of these new practices was to discern
God’s presence in the “ordinary” things of life and to make connection between their
faith and their daily life.
The Catholic Church in the 1960s legitimated the laity’s role in the Mission
of the Church and Christian Spirituality, which were considered once the domains of
the priests and religious. The Church juxtaposed the laity’s role to the ritual
celebration of baptism. If so, is there a uniformity of lay involvement and Spirituality
in all the parishes of the Catholic Church? As I discuss later, we do not find such
uniformity even in our four sample parishes. Then, one might ask, what is the use of
such ideologies in the first place? From our theoretical paradigm, it is safe to assert
that “a new ideology is introduced into a system’s superstructure and stays there until
it has been spread to and inculcated by some segment of the population” (Magnarella,
1993, p.ll). When these ideologies are spread and communicated to the faithful in
all parishes, perhaps we may see homogeneous involvement of the laity. However,
I think these ideologies, for the present justify the harnessing of human power (laity)
in the Church’s Mission and Christian Spirituality.
The purpose of this study is to examine the emerging phenomenon of lay
specialists in the Catholic parishes. Who are they? What do they do in the parishes?
Do they generate any influence in the parishes? Who are the recipients of their
services? It is assumed that parishioners are the recipients of the lay specialists’
services since they are employed as specialists in the parishes. While I keep the first

40
three questions for discussions in the following chapters, I present here a
socioeconomic overview of the sample population in Gilmer. The sample was
collected from the four Catholic parishes in Gilmer: St. Thomas, St. Benedict, St.
Justin, and St. Francis.
Statistical Overview of Research Sample
St. Thomas is the mother parish, founded in 1887. St. Benedict was established
in 1923 as a student center to serve the spiritual needs of the Catholic students and
staff at the university. Due to an increased number of students and staff at the
university and the community college, it became a full-pledged parish in 1969. St.
Justin and St. Francis became parishes in 1973 and 1987, respectively, reflecting
suburban growth in the community. The steady growth of the Catholic population in
Gilmer resulted in the establishment of four Catholic parishes within the span of a
century. In order to discuss the socioeconomic composition of the sample population,
I have chosen the following variables: gender, age, education, Catholic schooling,
marital status, and income. I discuss later if these variables would exert some impact
on the respondents on their human problems, religious beliefs, practices, involvement
in the parish activities, and contributions. I discuss the questionnaire strategy under
each variable.
Distribution of Respondents bv Gender
Several social surveys have been done on the gender differences in church
attendance (Alston & McIntosh, 1979; Gee, 1991; Ploch & Hastings, 1994). Some of

41
TABLE 1
Gender of Those Attending Mass, by Parish
Parish
Male
Female
Total
St. Thomas
320
375
695
(%)
46.0
54.0
18.5
St. Benedict
540
645
1185
(%)
46.0
54.0
31.6
St. Justin
535
585
1120
(%)
47.6
52.4
29.9
St. Francis
360
390
750
(%)
48.0
52.0
20
Total
1,755
1,995
3,750
(%)
46.8
53.2
them affirm the conventional religious wisdom in America that women attend church
more often than men. To provide some numbers, I randomly selected two Masses in
each of our sample parishes and made a count of the gender of those attending. The
count corroborated the conventional wisdom that more women than men attend
church services. Of the 3,755 total parishioners whom I counted, 1995 were women,
a majority of 53.1%. The figures are broken down by parish in Table 1.
National figure levels indicated that on the average, 10% more women than
men attend church services in the United States (Chadwick & Garrett, 1995). The
preponderance of women attending church services in our survey parishes is only 3%.
However, I found a larger percentage of women than men responding to my

42
TABLE 2
Gender of Respondents, by Parish
Parish
Male
Female
Total
St. Thomas
72
127
199
(%)
36.2
63.8
15.5
St. Benedict
172
232
404
(%)
42.6
57.4
31.5
St. Justin
161
229
390
(%)
41.3
58.7
30.4
St. Francis
115
174
289
(%)
39.8
60.2
22.5
Total
520
762
1,282
(%)
40.6
59.4
questionnaire. Of the 1,282 respondents, 762 (59.4%) were women. The distribution
is presented by parish in Table 2.
Does this greater representation of women in Mass attendance (and
consequently response to the survey) hold across all other religious practices apart
from Mass attendance? I explore that question in some detail below. One might be
inclined to attribute this female bias in Mass attendance (and response to surveys) to
the greater participatory roles that women have in Sunday Masses: lectors, alter
servers, Eucharistic ministers, and ushers. This would be a rather tenuous analytic line
to follow. It would appear rather that this preponderance of females is, in fact, a
carryover from the past. Sociological studies demonstrate that women were more

43
attracted to Christianity than men in the early Christian communities (Stark, 1996).
Woodward, a senior religion reporter for Newsweek says,
In a pagan society that disparaged women, undervalued
marriage, and regularly resorted to abortion and
infanticide, Christianity extolled marriage and family
life, protected and enfranchised women as members of
the community, denounced abortion as murder, and
readily encouraged their surplus of women to take (and
domesticate) pagan husbands, who were notoriously
inhospitable to both marital fidelity and family creation.
(Woodward, 1996, p.10)
In the United States, women have always made up the majority of Christian
congregations (Douglas, 1977). As far as Catholicism is concerned, the greater
number of roles of women in the parish ritual and administrative services may have
some impact on the longstanding tradition of women to be more faithful in church
attendance and activities than men.
Further, studies done on the cross-cultural sex differences in socialization try
to construe female bias in religion in terms of cultural influences. A cross-cultural
study by Barry, Bacon, and Child (1957) demonstrated that across 110 cultures, little
girls are almost always trained for nurturance, obedience, and responsibility, while
boys are trained for self-reliance and independence. These sex-role differences seem
to be reflected in the child’s notion of God As a result, girls are more likely to picture
God as loving, comforting, and forgiving, while boys are inclined to view God as a
supreme power, forceful planner, and controller (Wright & Cox, 1967). From these
studies, Batson and Ventis (1982) inferred that “females may be socialized to have

44
those personality characteristics that would lead them not only to raise existential
questions but also to view God as able to meet their existential needs” (p. 40). These
culturally incited characteristics could explain females’ relatively greater involvement
in religion. However, the modem trend toward gender equality that challenges
traditional male and female roles could lead to a diminution of gender differences in
the future. In the survey parishes, males are almost as regular in their church
attendance as females. The variable of gender in the survey did, in fact, prove to be
a useful predictor of responses to other questions which I explored in this study,
including religious beliefs and practices, attitudes toward lay specialists, and lay
involvement in the parish. Males and females differ on these matters in the study.
Age
The skewing is found not only in gender, but also in age. The survey
respondents gave the year of their birth, from which their age is computed. The mean
age for St. Benedict is 36.3, St. Justin 48.2, St. Francis 49.5, and St. Thomas 52.2.
The variation found in the mean age between St. Benedict and St. Thomas
corresponds to the demographic composition of these parishes. St. Benedict has a
large Catholic student population from the university, while St. Thomas has a large
retired population. Table 3 presents the breakdown of the age groups of the survey
sample.
I placed the respondents in three groups, using the Second Vatican Council
(1962-1965) as a reference point. Those respondents 55 and above are pre-Vatican

45
TABLE 3
Age of Survey Respondents, by Parish
Parish
18-34
35-54
55+
Total
St. Thomas
28
100
185
313
(%)
9.00
32.00
59.00
22.6
St. Benedict
185
173
40
398
(%)
46.48
43.47
10.05
28.8
St. Justin
100
133
151
384
(%)
26.04
34.64
39.32
27.8
St. Francis
55
123
109
287
(%)
19.16
42.86
37.98
20.8
Total
368
529
485
1,382
(%)
26.2
38.3
35.1
II, those 35 to 54 are Vatican n, and those 18 to 34 are post-Vatican H I also refer to
the older, middle-aged, and younger generations.
As we see from Table 3, our sample parishes present different age profiles. It
is important to note that same number, 185, represented in St. Benedict and in St.
Thomas. But it indicates in St. Benedict the post-Vatican II group and in St. Thomas
the pre-Vatican II group. It confirms the demographic composition of these two
parishes. Of the different percentages of the Vatican II generation, St. Benedict and
St. Francis have the highest and St. Thomas has the lowest. This division of age
groups helped to find the answer to the questions: Are there phenomenal differences

46
in matters of Catholic beliefs and practices among three generations? Who seeks the
help of the lay specialists? These questions are explored in the next chapters.
Educational Level
Several research studies have indicated the major role of education in the life
and economy of individuals (Gallup & Castelli, 1987). A high correlation is
established between educational level and socioeconomic status. Social scientists have
questioned whether the patterns between educational level and religion would parallel
those between socioeconomic status and religion. Burchinal (1959) and Gallup (1972)
pointed out that an increased level of education correlated positively with church
membership and attendance; that is, the higher one’s education, the more likely that
one is to attend weekly services. However, some other studies found a negative
correlation between increased education and holding traditional religious belief
(Feldman, 1969; Ford, 1960). That is, the higher one’s education, the more likely that
one is to attend weekly services, but not necessarily believe everything which the
Church teaches. The Catholic Church, in general, promotes education as a means of
transmitting values to future generations. Some studies indicate that Catholics in
general seem to place a slightly higher value on education than the Protestants. The
percentage of Catholics with a college background has more than doubled in the past
thirty years (Gallup & Castelli, 1987).
Gilmer is a university town that offers opportunities for higher education and
employment. The majority of the students come from the state of Florida with a

47
TABLE 4
Level of Education of Respondents, by Parish
Parish
High School
Undergrad
Grad school
Doctoral
Total
St. Thomas
50
75
60
17
202
(%)
24.75
37.13
29.70
8.42
15.7
St. Benedict
15
185
146
56
402
(%)
3.73
46.02
36.32
13.93
31.3
St. Justin
45
195
109
42
391
(%)
11.51
49.87
27.88
10.74
30.5
St. Francis
37
139
76
36
288
(%)
12.85
48.26
26.39
12.50
22.4
Total
147
594
391
151
1,283
(%)
11.5
46.3
30.5
11.7
smaller number from other states and abroad. They leave their homes and clan-
reference groups and live in Gilmer where they create new hometown reference
groups, especially with other students and faculty. The majority of the Catholic
students and the faculty frequent St. Benedict Parish. Table 4 shows the level of
education among the survey population.
The data in Table 4 are grouped into four educational levels: 1) those whose
education stopped at or before completing high school, 2) those whose education
stopped at the undergraduate level, 3) those who have graduate training or degrees
(but not a doctorate), and 4) those who have a doctorate. There were nine categories

48
on the questionnaire, but they have been collapsed into the above four for tabular
purposes.
As Table 4 indicates, about 12% of the survey population stopped their
education at or before their high school degree. Almost exactly the same percentage
have a Ph.D. or other doctorate. Of the other two categories in between, however,
those who stopped after their undergraduate work outnumber those who went on for
pre-doctoral graduate work.
A breakdown of these figures by parish, as presented in Table 4, shows that
parishes present quite different educational profiles. St. Benedict has the smallest
percentage of people whose education never went beyond high school. St. Thomas,
with its higher percentage of retired population, has more than six times as many
members who never attended college than St. Benedict. Does education correlate
positively or negatively with religious practices and beliefs? Does education increase
or decrease one’s involvement in the parish? These and other questions are discussed
later.
Years of Catholic Schooling
Recent studies have focused on Catholic Educational Institutions and their role
in preserving “Catholic Identity” (Carlin, 1996). In the United States, the school
remained the nucleus of the Catholic educational network. The Catholic Church, in
«
the early years of this century, developed a distinctive mission for the Catholic
schools in the United States. The American Catholic education system reached its

49
TABLE 5
Catholic Schooling of Respondents, by Parish
Parish
None
1-8 yrs.
9+ yrs.
Total
St. Thomas
69
65
59
193
(%)
35.75
33.68
30.57
15.6
St. Benedict
162
127
100
389
(%)
41.65
32.65
25.71
31.5
St. Justin
113
137
125
375
(%)
30.13
36.53
33.33
30.4
St. Francis
79
106
93
278
(%)
28.42
38.13
33.45
22.5
Total
423
435
377
1,235
(%)
34.3
35.2
30.5
peak in terms of enrollment in 1965-66. Research studies show that there were 11,000
elementary schools, 2,400 high schools, and about 350 colleges providing education
for 5.6 million students (Francis & Egan, 1990; Quigley, 1978). By 1988-89, there
were only 7,505 Catholic elementary schools and 1,362 secondary schools in the
United States, a considerable decline from the figures of 1965-66. Grant and Hunt
(1992) attribute the decline in the Catholic education to a loss of widely shared sense
of Catholic mission to protect the religiosity, and to reinforce the positive self-identity
of Church and home. Table 5 presents the years of Catholic schooling in the survey
sample.

50
The data in Table 5 are grouped into three levels of Catholic schooling:
1) those who had none, 2) those who had 1-8 years, and 3) those who had 9 years and
more. On the questionnaire there were three general categories: numbers of years of
Catholic schooling in grammar school, in high school, and in college. The total
number of years for each respondent was added and collapsed into the above three
levels for tabular purposes.
As the data indicate, the percentage of people who had no Catholic education
is the same as those who had 1 -8 years. That is, about one out of every three had no
Catholic schooling. On the other hand, the majority of our samples (65%) had some
Catholic schooling ranging from one year to more than nine years. There is similarity
between St. Justin and St. Francis in the percentage distribution of people who had
Catholic schooling: in both parishes, about 37% had 1-8 years of Catholic schooling
and about 33% had nine years and above. St. Benedict has the highest percentage of
people among those who had no Catholic schooling. This might be explained by the
assumption that some of the Catholic students who come to the University may not
have had access to a Catholic school for their primary, middle, and high school
education. Does it put greater pressure on the parishes to offer Catholic education at
the parish level either through Religious Education or Adult Education? I examine
this question later.

51
TABLEÓ
Marital Status of Respondents, by Parish
Parish
Never
Married
Separated/
Widowed
Total
Married
Divorced
St. Thomas
15
128
19
14
176
(%)
8.52
72.73
10.80
7.95
St. Benedict
34
172
25
1
232
(%)
14.66
74.14
10.77
0.43
St. Justin
27
258
22
16
323
(%)
8.36
79.88
6.81
4.95
St. Francis
10
226
17
10
263
(%)
3.80
85.93
6.46
3.80
Total
86
784
83
41
994
Marital Status
According to the Index of Leading Cultural Indicators, marital status in the
United States has undergone enormous change in the 1980s (Bennett, 1994). The
divorce rate per 1,000 married women rose from 9.2 to 14.9 in 1970 and to 20.9 in
1991. National surveys indicate that 58% of American Catholics are married, 31%
have never married, and 11% are divorced or separated. The divorce rate among those
who belong to Catholic communities seems to be lower than among those who do not
belong. Table 6 presents the marital status of the survey sample. The questionnaire
had five categories: 1) those who had never married, 2) those who are married, 3)

52
those who are separated, 4) those who are divorced, and 5) those who are widowed.
Categories 4 and 5 have been collapsed into one for tabular purposes.
As indicated in Table 6, of the 994 respondents, 79% are married, 9% had
never married, 8% are separated or divorced, and 4% are widowed. My survey results
corroborate with the national survey results in which the vast majority of the
Catholics are married.
St. Francis has the highest percentage of married population among our survey
samples. At the other end, the percentage of those widowed is the highest in St.
Thomas. And the highest percentage of those never married in St. Benedict might
represent the undergraduate students who frequent St. Benedict for Sunday Masses.
In the separated and divorced category, St. Benedict and St. Thomas have the same
percentage (about 11%), and St. Justin and St. Francis have the same percentage
(about 6%). Marital status was used to examine questions such as who seeks services
in the parish.
Income
A study of American Catholics in 1987 found that there was a dramatic shift
in the income and education of the Catholics in mid-1960s.
For the first time in the history of the nation, the
proportion of Catholics in “upscale” groups (upper
income and education levels) matches the proportion of
Protestants. In addition, a higher percentage of Catholics
are currently found in the college than in the general
population, suggesting that Catholics are poised for even

53
further gains in education and income. (Gallup, &
Castelli, 1987, p.2)
Is there any correlation between socioeconomic status and religion? There have
been several studies that focussed on this relationship, but the results are not
consistent. The studies of the 1950s indicated that members of the middle class were
more likely than members of the lower middle class to be religious and to attend
church (Lenski, 1953; Burchinal, 1959). D’Antonio et al. (1989) indicated that lower
income Catholic families were more likely to become attached to the church, although
they gave less money to the church. Table 7 presents the economic status of our
survey population by their annual income.
TABLE 7
Income of Respondents, by Parish
Parish
Less $25K
S25-49K
$50-74K
$75K+
Total
St. Thomas
90
49
40
20
199
(%)
45.23
24.62
20.10
10.05
St. Benedict
170
87
76
64
397
(%)
42.82
21.91
19.14
16.12
St. Justin
85
144
85
66
380
(%)
22.37
37.88
22.37
17.37
St. Francis
47
103
61
69
280
(%)
16.79
36.79
21.79
24.64
Total
392
383
262
219
1,256

54
In my preliminary interviews, I found it difficult to obtain answers in the
“income” category. For tactical reasons, I put the “income” question at the end of the
questionnaire so that the respondents would answer first the most interesting
questions, especially on beliefs and practices. Since I found that people are reluctant
to give raw figures, I asked them to bracket it within the 13 categories: categories 1-9
had an increase of $5,000, categories 10-11 had an increase of $25,000, and
categories 12-13 had an increase of $100,000.1 collapsed 13 categories into four: 1)
those whose income was less than $25,000; 2) those whose income was between
$25,000 and $49,000; 3) those whose income was between $50,000 and $74,000; and
4) those whose income was $75,000 and above.
As Table 7 shows, those with income of $50,000 and above represent about
40% of the our survey population. Those in the lower two categories, less than
$25,000 and $25,000-49,000, accounted for almost exactly the same percentages,
31% and 30%, respectively.
Among the four survey parishes, St. Francis has the highest percentage of
affluent and the least in the lowest income category. Conversely, St. Thomas has the
highest percentage of the least affluent and the least in the highest income category.
St. Benedict and St Justin resemble each other in their percentages in the two highest
categories, although St. Benedict has 50% more than St. Justin in the category of least
affluent. Later in this study I examine whether income has any appreciable impact on
people’s involvement and financial contributions to the parish.

55
The socioeconomic profile has delineated the following characteristics of the
survey population: gender, age, education, Catholic schooling, marital status, and
income. Although the four parishes display different profiles, overall, the survey
sample population can be described as an educated group of individuals belonging to
an economic status that is middle class and above. The majority of the population is
married and has some years of Catholic schooling. As far as the mean age is
concerned, it is not monolithic. More females than males tend to attend church
services and volunteer for parish or common activities such as filling out my
questionnaire soon after the Sunday Masses. In this chapter, I indicated how the
members of the sample parishes differed in terms of age, income and education. In
the following chapter, I present how the sample parishioners have somewhat different
clusters of problems.

CHAPTER 3
THE PROFILE OF HUMAN PROBLEMS
The preceding chapter presented a socioeconomic profile of the Catholics who
participated in the survey. In this chapter I discuss the major life problems which they
revealed and the extent to which they approach the solution to these problems in a
religious context. In anthropological perspective, this focus on concrete human
problem domains is an appropriate focus within which to pursue my interest in
religion. Anthropology has traditionally viewed religion somewhat functionally as a
solution to problems. Whether we as anthropologists turn to Malinowski’s
psychological analysis of religion as a response by individuals to insecurity or to
Radcliffe-Brown’s structural-functionalist view of religion as a societal response for
the need to maintain stability or to more recent functionalist analyses such as
Rapoport’s view of religion as a mechanism for maintaining ecological stability or
Wallace’s view of religious ritual as a mechanism for revitalization of threatened
culture, we find a constant tradition in anthropology of searching for the ways in
which individuals and societies use religion as a device for solving concrete problems.
In the words of Tremmel, for example, “Religion is a complex form of human
behavior whereby a person (or community of persons) is prepared intellectually and
56

57
emotionally to deal with those aspects of human existence that are horrendous and
nonmanipulatable” (1984, p. 7).
Catholic religious life may also be analyzed in this framework. The typical
Catholic parish in the United States now offers several ministries (services) that are
targeted on not only religious growth but also human development (MacEoin, 1991).
A parish, for example, may offer counseling services in the areas of family relations,
social relations, career, responsibility, educational difficulties, and anxieties or stress
generated by social and domestic criminal violence. Though the Catholic Church has
helped people meet their needs, there has been an evolution in the kinds of help
provided. In my personal interviews with parishioners of 70 years and above, they
reported that when they had some problems of a spiritual or social nature, they would
call on their pastors for help. The help consisted often in a meeting with the pastor to
discuss their problems. The directions given by the pastor were often taken as though
they were given by divine assistance. An element of faith and trust in the pastor’s
advice seems to have been an important ingredient in the solutions to the problems.
Today, however, most Catholic parishes have at least one or two specialized
lay ministries dealing with issues formerly dealt with by the pastor. The survey
parishes are no exception: the four parishes have them, and one parish has many such
ministries for special events or problems. For example, within the areas of marriage
and the family, there are several specialized ministries for the pre-married (engaged

58
couples), married couples, parents, divorced, separated, singles, and children of the
divorced Most of these ministries are given by full-time or part-time lay specialists.
In this chapter I present, first, a profile of the human problems that are named
by the survey population. I then examine the degree to which people engage in prayer
to address these problems. In order to indicate that most of the identified problems are
not unique to the sample population in this community, I use national data wherever
these are available to show that these problems are diffused throughout the national
population.
Human Problems
In my preliminary interview with parishioners, I asked them to state their
problems in life. The purpose of this open-ended preliminary interviewing was to
generate a list of problems that could eventually be built into the questionnaire.
Having devised a list of problems on the basis of these preliminary interviews, I
repeated the list of problems three times on the questionnaire. On the first list,
respondents were asked to indicate whether a particular item has been a problem for
them and to what degree. On the second list, the respondents were asked if they had
sought help from anyone on pastoral staff (priests and lay specialists) in reference to
the specified problem. On the third list, respondents were asked whether they had
engaged in personal prayer about their problems. The intent of asking the first two
questions is self explanatory. The third question needs a brief comment. When
believers of a religious tradition have problems, they usually adhere to their religious

59
practices (Wallace, 1966). In the case of traditional Catholics, these would include
Mass, the Sacraments, personal prayer, fasting and pilgrimages to shrines or holy
places. In return, they seem to experience a sense of hope, emotional release, and
closeness with the Sacred. In the United States, religious attendance is said to have
reached its peak (49%) from the mid-eighties to mid-nineties. In the opinion of some,
this surge in religious practice has come in the wake of a series of cataclysmic events
such as AIDS, hurricanes, floods, and economic recession that occurred during that
period (Bama, 1996). As I point out now, however, not all problems are viewed by
the sample population as equal objects of personal prayer.
Table 8 presents a list of the problems and the number and percentage of the
1,293 respondents who reported having each of the problems. I prioritized them from
the most reported to the least reported problems.
It is noteworthy that the six problems most frequently acknowledged are all
either interpersonal and relational in character, or emotional. They reflect either
stresses in relationships that are supposed to be harmonious, or negative internal
feelings on the part of the person. The percentage of people reporting such problems
is high. In contrast, the percentage of people reporting social problems such as crime,
and drugs, etc. is small, perhaps surprisingly so, in terms of the attention that is given
to these problems in the media. The analysis indicated that only 1.2% of the sample
population reported all 14 items as problems. Eleven percent of the sample population

60
TABLE 8
List of Problems Reported in Number and Percentage
Problem Domain
Number
Percentage
Communication/conflict
701
55.4
Loneliness/depression
674
52.7
Self-esteem/worth
633
49.5
Parent/child
572
44.6
Spouse/partner
548
42.7
Parent/in laws
490
38.3
Job loss
457
35.7
Health
451
35.3
Education
291
31.7
Responsibility/commitment
249
19.5
Unplanned/unwanted pregnancy
227
17.8
Domestic violence
221
17.3
Drugs/alcohol
196
15.3
Crime
189
14.8
reported 5 items as problems. The majority of the sample population reported 6 items
as problems.
I found that the problems reported differ somewhat from parish to parish in the
survey. The members of the four parishes differ in terms of age, income, and
education. These variables exert an impact on the problems that people have. The four

61
TABLE 9
Percentage of People in Each Parish Reporting the Problem
Problem Domain
St. Thomas
St. Justin
St. Francis
St. Benedict
Communication/
conflict
57.29
50.00
51.90
62.28
Loneliness/
depression
54.27
44.47
48.28
62.78
Self-esteem/worth
48.24
44.33
50.87
54.09
Parents/children
51.50
39.69
47.42
43.92
Spouse/partner
44.78
35.48
40.21
50.37
Parents/In-Laws
39.50
30.33
39.45
44.75
Job Loss
37.69
31.70
37.59
37.31
Health
43.72
31.19
39.18
32.17
Education
22.73
18.77
16.26
31.42
Responsibility/
commitment
22.61
14.69
18.82
23.13
Pregnancy
18.59
16.24
17.01
19.40
Domestic violence
23.00
14.40
12.80
20.40
Drugs/Alcohol
18.00
12.08
18.28
14.93
Crime
14.50
11.89
14.14
18.16
parishes have parishioners with somewhat different clusters of problems. Table 9
shows the percentage of people in each parish who had the problems.
Neither the columns nor the rows add up to 100%, because Table 9 reports the
percentage of people in each parish who acknowledged experiencing a given problem

62
set. The approximate prioritizing of the problems is roughly the same in each parish,
at least in terms of generic problem types. That is, the interpersonal and intrapersonal
problems tend to rank high.
St. Benedict parish caters more than the other parishes to students. St. Thomas
has a higher percentage of elderly and retired people. As expected, St. Benedict
reported a higher incidence of educational problems than St. Thomas. A higher
incidence of health problems was reported by the more elderly parishioners of St.
Thomas. In terms of the intrapersonal, emotional problems-loneliness/depression and
poor self esteem, these two parishes scored higher than St. Justin and St. Francis. The
“student parish”scored higher than the “elderly parish”in terms of experiencing
problems with the emotional, intrapersonal issues. One might have expected that St.
Thomas parish, with its specialization on service to more elderly Catholics, many of
whom are widowed, would have a higher incidence of loneliness. The data do not
bear this out, however. Students are not only more insecure than the elderly, they also
appear to be lonelier. In all four parishes, however, these problems (intrapersonal,
emotional—loneliness/depression, poor self-esteem) rank much higher than the social
problems (crime, drugs/alcohol, violence).
There is another notable distinction between St. Benedict and St. Thomas in
terms of parent/child problems. St. Thomas parish reported the highest incidence of
problems labeled on the questionnaire as “parent/child relationships.” One may
assume that it is the parents reporting problems with their children. And since the

63
parents are largely elderly, the children with whom they are experiencing problems
are adult children. In contrast, St. Benedict scored highest on reporting problems with
“parents and in-laws.” Here, one may assume that it is adult children who are
reporting the problem. That is, in both parishes parent/child problems are present, but
the parishioners of St. Thomas report them from the parental perspective, whereas the
parishioners of St. Benedict are more likely to take the point of view of the adult
offspring.
For purposes of further discussion, I collapsed this list of 14 items into a
smaller list of seven “problem areas”: 1) health, 2) crime, 3)drugs/alcohol, 4)
violence, 5) education, 6) marriage and family, and 7) personal. I examined the
responses concerning each of these problem areas one-by-one, to see whether there
are any differences among subgroups defined by variables more frequently discussed
in the anthropological literature: age, gender, education, marital status.
Health
Health issues emerged as number eight in the responses of the survey
population. But in terms of the prominence in the anthropological literature, health
issues have a high level of interest. In terms of public attention in the United States’
media, health also is given priority. Health care has become very expensive and
sometimes inaccessible. The advances in medical technology and the newly available
sophisticated medical services have proliferated the specialization of physicians; with
specialization came increased costs. Although the United States Government had

64
TABLE 10
Distribution of Health Problems, by Age Group
Age Group
Number
Percentage Reported
18-34
88
23.91
35-54
181
35.63
55+
174
45.91
Total
443
Percent of total
35.3
Chi-Square 39.5, PO.OOl
created Medicare for the aged and Medicaid for the indigent in 1965, according to the
social studies, there are about 37 million people without any coverage of health care,
and 25 million more have inadequate health coverage. Poor health is often reflected
in psychological disorders such as stress, loneliness, marital discord, and alcoholism
(Scarpitti & Anderson, 1989). Though health problems did not rank high on the
survey, health issues are still noteworthy in that more than one out of three
respondents in our survey population (35.3%) identified health as a problem.
I found no difference by gender on the health variable. That is, the tendency
to report health as a problem was equally strong among males and females. However,
as Table 10 indicates, there were major differences by age.

65
The association between health problems and age is not surprising. As people
advance in their age, their concerns for health increase. The younger age group (18-
34), however, is less concerned about health as a problem both because of
maturational and lifestyle variables. That is, not only does their youth protect them
from illness, but also they are inclined to diet and exercise in concurrence with the
cultural coercion that seems to identify good health with success and poor health with
failure in life.
Health problems, however, are created not only by age, but also by different
types of stress. The divorced (44.71%) and widowed (44.00%) indicated a slightly
higher percentage of concerns about health than those who are never married
(30.77%), married (35.04%), and separated (37.50%). The high incidence of health
problems among the widowed indicates that physical well being is linked to emotional
well being.
Also worthy of comment is the fact that educational level was significantly
(P.<01) correlated with the reporting of health problems, but only among the least
educated That is, nearly half of those who had only a high school education reported
health as a problem, whereas the incidence among other groups was closer to one out
of three.
Crime
Crime topped voters’ concerns in the 1996 election of the President of the
United States. When a group of 625 registered voters in Florida were asked, “What

66
do you think is the most important problem in the nation that the president must deal
with?” 45% of them said crime/drugs (Rufiy, 1996). Social studies indicate there has
been a 550% increase in violent crime since 1960 in the United States while
population has increased only 41% (Bennett, 1994). According to the U.S.
Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, eight out of every ten Americans
can expect to be the victims of violent crime at least once in their lives. Since 1990,
more than 90,000 people have been murdered, about twice as many Americans than
were killed in Vietnam War.
Every year in America, there is a murder committed
every 22 minutes, a rape every five minutes, a robbery
every 47 seconds, and a violent crime of some kind
committed every 22 seconds. Five million Americans are
victims of violent crime every year, while 19 million are
targets of property crimes, such as larceny, burglary, or
theft. (Reed, 1994, p.87)
Some studies find that there has been some decrease in the crimes committed
by people in the 25 years and older group. However, there has been an increase in the
incidence of juvenile crime, the crime committed by those in the 14-17 age group
(Chandler, 1996). In order to fight against juvenile crime, the President of the United
States has proposed a 495 million-dollar national campaign in his 1998 budget
(Hunt, 1997). A telephone poll of 500 adult Americans taken for Time/CNN reveals
that 59% of the survey population worries about being a victim of crime (Smolowe,
1993).

67
Crime has traditionally been studied as a kind of deviant behavior. Social
scientists have formulated various mechanisms of social control to prevent deviant
behavior. One of those mechanisms called “internalization of social norms” pertains
to the goal of institutions such as religion and family. In this context, religious
services in the form of counseling and spiritual direction may be helping youth to
internalize those values for a crime free society as well as serving as a source of
comfort for those who fear themselves to be the victims of crime (Spilka, Shaver, &
Kirkpatrick, 1985).
Crime has a lower order of priority in our survey population. Only 14.8% of
respondents reported that crime is a problem, which is an exception to the usually
higher national crime consciousness. This could be considered as one of the outcomes
of concentrated security services in the community after five college students were
murdered in 1990. Besides the increased police patrolling in the city, the university
campus security offers special protection and escort service to those students who
need to reach home after it is dark. However, as our Table 11 indicates, the age group
of 18-34 year, both male and female, thinks of crime as a problem more than the other
two age groups.
The majority of the students fall under this (18-34) age group. In my one-on-
one interviews, I found students who were worried about crimes that were happening
in the nation. They were concerned, in particular, about the innocent victims of crime

68
TABLE 11
Distribution of Crime Problems, by Age Group
Age Group
Number
Percentage Reported
18-34
67
18.26
35-54
80
15.69
55+
38
10.05
Total
185
Percent of total
14.8
Chi-Square 10.5, PO.OOl
in the society. Such concerns often triggered questions about the Providence of God
and justice for the victims of crime. Crime as a problem had no statistical significance
to one’s educational status, and marital status.
Dm gs/ Alcohol
National surveys indicate that there is a 50% reduction in drug use from its
peak in the late 1970s. However, the problem remains relatively constant among the
number of hard core addicts. The adolescent drug use trends have increased
nationwide. According to the White House Office of National Drug Control Strategy
(1992) in 1992, among eighth grade students, 11.2% reported trying marijuana. This
was one percentage higher than in 1991. In addition, it was reported that LSD use
among eighth-graders has increased 24% from 1991. In Florida, the story is different.

69
TABLE 12
Distribution of Drug/Alcohol Problems, by Gender
Gender
Number
Percentage Reported
Male
112
21.58
Female
84
11.19
Total
192
Percent of total
15.3
Chi-square 25.4, P0.001
Drug use among the adolescents in Florida is higher than the national average. A drug
use survey taken by Florida Health and Human Services among 22,000 middle school
and high school students in 1995 showed that 43% of the students said that they used
alcohol, 31% used tobacco, 20% smoked marijuana, 6% used cocaine, and 10%
admitted that they had inhaled various substances (The Gainesville Sun, March 4,
1997, p. 4A).
Like crime, alcohol/drugs has a lower order of priority in the survey
population. About 15% of the survey population said that alcohol/drugs is a problem.
Statistically, there was no significant relation between educational status and
alcohol/drugs problem. But there were significant differences from the point of
gender, age group, and marital status. Table 12 presents gender differences.

70
Although there has been a change in the perception of women who drink more than
men, this survey conforms with the conventional view that drinking is a male
problem. People drink for various reasons. The Pontifical Council for the Family
(1992) identified one constant basic motive: “a certain crisis of values and the
person’s lack of interior harmony.” In my interviews, people told me that they drink
to escape from problems or worries of their daily life often related to their marital
status. Of those who had indicated this problem in the survey, 31.25% were separated
and 22.35% were divorced. This is a higher rate than those of the never married
(14.18%), married (15.23%), and widowed (4.00%).
By age group, those who belong to 35-54 years tend to have more problems
with alcohol/drugs (18.24%) than the other two groups. This cannot be held as a
universal phenomenon. It is said in general that alcohol/drug use cuts across social
variables. A certain age group of people is more likely to use certain types of alcohol
and drugs such as narcotics, sedatives, stimulants, and hallucinogens. According to
one local news report, the town had the second highest per capita heroin death rate
in 1996 in Florida (Richter, 1997). My interviews with the youth indicated that most
of the youger people attempt to use narcotics, while the adults try for various
stimulants.
Domestic Violence
The National Conference of Catholic Bishops of the United States issued a
statement on violence after their meeting in Washington in November 14-17, 1994.

71
The statement in brief condemned the epidemic of violence in the United States,
because “violence in families, schools and neighborhoods is tearing apart the fabric
of American life" (Reese, 1994). Social scientists consider violence as a social
problem because it affects individuals in countless ways and disrupts society. In fact,
violence can manifest itself in different forms such as suicide, criminal acts
(homicide, aggravated assault, forceful rape), and domestic violence.
Domestic violence includes all kinds of violence, physical, emotional, and
sexual, that occur within the home. Research carried out about 20 years ago
concluded that 50% of all American couples engage in some kind of physical abuse
(Steinmetz, 1977). Later studies have recorded the recurrent domestic violence in
staggering numbers. In 1982, about 55 million couples experienced some form of
violence in the family (Scarpitti & Anderson, 1989). An estimated three to four
million women in the United States are battered each year by their husbands or
partners (National Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1992). Domestic violence was
identified as the leading cause of injury among women. It is reported that such
domestic violence kills at least 1,400 women a year (Carlson, 1995). There are
several underlying causes of violence in the family. Several studies indicate 1) the
power struggle that exists between man and women in the family, 2) the imbalance
of power between men and women resulting from sociocultural practices in regard to
finances, roles of authority and decision making, and 3) the frustrations that come

72
from working conditions, unemployment, or alcohol/drug abuse (National Conference
of Catholic Bishops, 1992).
In the survey, domestic violence did not emerge as a top priority. As indicated
in Table 8 only 218 of the 1,269 respondents (17.3%) identified domestic violence
as a problem and 156 of these respondents (71.6%) were women. The assumption is
that most episodes of domestic violence will involve both spouses. This
preponderance of women who report the problem must be explained. Why are there
not an equal number of men who report the problem? Three answers can be
suggested: 1) men in the sample involved in such episodes underreport it, 2) perhaps
more likely, men involved in domestic violence with women are the aggressors, and
3) aggressors are less likely to go to church than victims. At any rate, the difference
between the genders is highly significant (PO.OOl), which corroborates with the
national studies in which the percentage of women reporting domestic violence is
higher than that of men.
Some might suspect that such violence will be more common among those
with less schooling. If so, they are wrong, at least for this sample. In fact, those with
an undergraduate college degree reported a slightly higher percentage of violence than
those with only a high school education (18.5% as opposed to 13.9%), but the
differences are too small to achieve statistical significance.
It would appear that the simple age of a person is a much better predictor of
violence than his or her educational status. Only about 13% of the under-34s and the

73
over-55s report domestic violence, as compared to 23% of the 35-54 age group
(PO.OOl). Are we dealing with a life cycle phenomenon in which the tendency to
violence increases toward mid-life and then begins to wane? Or is this simply due to
differential residential arrangements? Perhaps a larger percentage of the young and
the old are not living with spouses and the occasion for violence would thus be
reduced I tested this by looking only at the subsample of 865 respondents who were
currently married at the time of the survey. Even among this subgroup, the tendency
toward domestic violence is significantly higher (PO.Ol) among the 35-54 age group
than among the other two age cohorts. Violence does seem to increase slightly with
age up to a certain point, at which point it begins to decline as one moves toward
one’s 60s.
Twelve percent of our respondents reported that they were separated, and 45%
reported that they were divorced The levels of violence reported (retrospectively) by
these two groups are astronomically higher than the 17% for the sample at large: 75%
for the separated, 52% for the divorced It is reasonable to infer that domestic
violence could have been one of the leading causes for their separation and divorce.
Education
Education has been the primary means of cultural transmission for succeeding
generations in human societies. Educators teach youth the values of society and
prepare them for occupations. Social scientists report that a vast expansion of

74
educational institutions in the United States took place mostly in the last hundred
years.
In 1890, only 7% of the relevant age group went to high
school and only 1% to college. By 1970, 90% of
Americans aged fourteen to seventeen were in high
school, and by the 1980 a majority of Americans of
college age were receiving some higher education.
(Bellah et al., 1992, p.146)
Education transmits culture, but in the process it is affected by cultural forces such
as the work ethic, economy, individualism, violence, and breakdown of family
system. National statistics show that there is no systematic correlation between
spending on education and student achievement. While expenditures on elementary
and secondary education have increased more than 200% since 1960, SAT scores are
reported to have declined 73 points (Bennett, 1994). According to the Congressional
Quarterly, in 1940 problems in American schools were talking out of turn, chewing
gum, making noise, running in the halls, cutting in line, dress-code violations, and
littering. However, in 1990 the reported problems are drug abuse, alcohol abuse,
pregnancy, suicide, rape, robbery, and assault (Bennett, 1994). A 1993 survey by the
U.S. Department of Education on violence in the schools indicated that there was a
correlation between students’ performances and parental involvements. Half of all
students with poor grades indicated that their parents had spent little or no time with
them on their homework in the previous week.
One-third of the students whose parents separate or
divorce suffer a significant decline in their scholastic

75
performance. And even those families stay together
suffer from a "famine" in family time, often caused by
hurried parents in two-income households, multiple jobs,
and long hours at the office. (Reed, 1994, p.85)
The proponents of educational reform call for increased parental and family
involvement. They advocate parental choice and encouragement through vouchers and
tax credits and excellence over competence. “What students at all levels badly need
is the reassurance that it is admirable to pursue intellectual achievement” (Walsh,
1997, p. 17A).
Research studies focused on “Generation X,” that is, those who are between
16 and 34, reveal that there is a kind of pessimism prevailing over this generation.
According to the studies, about 38 million young Americans who make up Generation
X are facing an uncertain labor market. This uncertainty causes pessimistic attitude
toward education and its promises to create opportunity and the potential for
economic advancement (Bennett, 1994).
In the survey population, 22.8% indicated that they have educational problems
such as admission, finance, accommodation, examination and job searching. There
was no statistical difference among females and males reporting the problem. Both
experience the problem at the same level: males 22.9% and females 22.9%. However,
as Table 13 indicates, when age group was applied, there was significant difference
in the reporting.

76
TABLE 13
Distribution of Education Problems, by Age Group
Age Group
Number
Percentage Reported
18-34
141
38.42
35-54
98
19.22
55+
46
12.23
Total
285
Percent of total
31.7
Chi-Square 78.5, PO.OOl
The younger generation’s problems related to education are to be explained in
today’s cultural situation. The majority of this generation come from separated or
divorced families, and they suffer from the absence of supportive family structures.
A disconnectedness from parental experience only increases one’s problems in other
areas of life. The parental involvement for these students in matters of choosing a
university or a major in studies is not there. They are often left alone to make
decisions. This explanation seems feasible from the fact that of those who had
reported this problem, 27.16% were undergraduates and 22.48% were graduates.
Those who had high school education and doctoral level education reported
respectively 15.71% and 13.25%.

77
Of those who indicated this problem, 43.54% were never married, 16.08%
married, 37.50% separated, 32.94% divorced, and 8.00% widowed. Marital status
applied to education had statistical significance (PO.OOl). According to this survey,
those who are married seem to have the least amount of educational problems. This
may be due to the fact that their life partners are helpful in dealing with the
educational problems. There is no doubt that sharing one’s problem with another is
one of the ways of reducing the anxieties related to problems. However, my one-on-
one interviews with some students indicated the opposite. Several married graduate
students find it very difficult to cope with the demands of education and family. A
total concentration upon their education is often misinterpreted by their spouses as
negligence of family responsibilities. This often leads to marital discord in their
families.
Marriage and Family
In anthropological perspective, marriage can be seen as a stable coresidential
relationship between individual men and women. But the specific form of marriage
and kinship system may vary from culture to culture depending on how many
marriage partners are involved at one time, who can marry whom, how property and
descent are determined, where the family resides, and how power is distributed (Hess,
Markson, & Stein, 1988). However, families play a vital role in the fabric of the
sociocultural system. It is in families where individuals form emotional bonds, meet
physical needs, learn about various systems of authority, power, conflict, and values.

78
Families were so important to the society that their “viability was supported by local
communities, extended kin groups, and religious organizations, as well as by many
economic, legal, and political functions and constraints” (Bellah et al., 1992, p.45).
Marriage and family have undergone dramatic changes in the contemporary
world. In 1960, there were only 393,000 divorces with three out of every four
marriages successful in the United States. But in 1992, the number increased to 1.2
million with six out of ten marriages ending in failure (Reed, 1994). And though
divorce extricates individuals from personally unpleasant situations, its social impact
has been viewed by some as quite negative.
Divorce has ripple effects that touch not just the family
involved, but our entire society. As the writer Pat Conroy
observed when his own marriage broke up, “Each
divorce is the death of a small civilization.” When one
family divorces, that divorce affects relatives, friends,
neighbors, employers, teachers, clergy, and scores of
strangers.... Teachers from all over the country tell me
that their students come to school wide-eyed with fear,
saying that their parents quarreled the night before and
asking in terror, “Does this mean that they are going to
divorce?” Radical changes in family life affects all
families, homes, parents, children, courtship, and
marriages, silently altering the social fabric of the entire
society. (Wallerstein «fe Blakeslee, 1989, p.xxi)
Family breakdown is attributed as the one source of all social ills such as drug crisis,
the education crisis, teen pregnancy, and juvenile crime (Bennett, 1994).
Due to family problems, the traditional nuclear family in American society is
on the decline. Single-parent families are becoming more common. According to 1991

79
statistics, one in eight families was headed by a single-parent. And the parent, among
the single-parents, is five times more likely to be a woman. In 1996, there were 15.8
million children living in single parent families. About one million children have
parents who separate or divorce per year (Bennett, 1994). The U.S Census Bureau
predicts that 60% of all children in the United States will lose a parent to divorce
before they reach the age of eighteen (Reed, 1994). According to Bateson (1985), the
new diversity in American families includes the following: a) Nuclear family-
husband, wife children; b) extended family-nuclear family plus grandparents, uncles,
aunts, and so on; c) blended family—husband, wife, plus children from previous
marriage(s); d) common-law family—man, woman, and possibly children living
together as a family, although the man and the woman have not gone through a formal
legal marriage ceremony; e) single-parent family—household managed by one parent
either man or woman, due to divorce, death, desertion, or never having been married;
f) commune family—men, women, and children living together, often sharing rights
and responsibilities, who collectively own and use property, sometimes abandoning
traditional monogamous marriages; g) serial family-man and woman has succession
of marriages by which they have acquired several spouses and different families over
a lifetime, but had one nuclear family at a time; h) composite family—a form of
polygamous marriage in which two or more nuclear families share a common husband
(polygyny) or wife (polyandry) (the former is more prevalent.); i) cohabitation-a
nonlegally binding arrangement between two unmarried persons of the opposite sex;

80
and g) gay couples—couples of the same gender who develop and maintain a
homosexual relationship.
My survey focused more on the problems of marriage and family than on the
diversity of families. However, the survey includes a question on the marital status
of our population. The problems of marriage and family often reflect the tensions and
strains placed on family relations. Therefore, I asked the participants to respond to the
following family issues: 1) Relational problems with one’s spouse or dating partner;
2) problems with understanding responsibility and commitment; 3)
communication/conflict issues in relationship; 4) parent/child relationships; 5)
problems with one’s parents/ or in-laws; and 6) unplanned and/or unwanted
pregnancy in the family. I discuss each briefly.
Relational Problem with One’s Spouse/ Partner
Relational problems with one’s spouse or partner were reported by 42.7% of
our survey population. From my one-on-one interviews, I have come to know that
relational problems often have resulted from the need to cope with the social changes
and cultural forces which often shape family structure. For example, both husband
and wife working outside their home results in sharing roles and child rearing
responsibilities. Such obligations leave very little time for the couples to attend to and
to express their deepest concerns and needs for each other. The absence of mutual
support and appreciation have resulted in marital discord. In this survey, I find that

81
TABLE 14
Distribution of Spouse/Partner Problems, by Gender
Gender
Number
Percentage Reported
Female
350
46.48
Male
193
37.12
Total
543
Percent of total
42.7
Chi-Square 11.0, PO.OOl
the tendency to report relational problems was not equally strong among females and
males. Table 14 presents gender reporting.
This difference between females and males could be explained by the
assumption that the understanding of relational problem between couples or partners
is different. What appears to be a problem to one person may not be a problem to the
other. And the lack of understanding could be due to several factors such as
communication, commitment, and so on. I discuss these factors later. There was
statistical significance when I analyzed this problem under the age group (PO.OOl).
There seems to be a tendency that as people advance in their age, their relational
problems seem to decrease.

82
Relational problems with a spouse/partner may have been the cause of
separation and divorce. Of those who had reported such problems, 87.50% were
separated, and 87.76% were divorced from their spouses or partners.
Does education help to improve relational problems between spouse/partner?
The answer to this question would depend a great deal upon the level of education
one receives. Higher levels of education would normally be expected to help the
person achieve a greater degree of relationship with the spouse/partner. Against this
conventional expectation, my data indicate that those with higher levels of education
have greater degrees of relational problems with spouse/partner. About 35% of those
who had reported this problem had high school education and 47.68% had graduate
education. The statistical significance was (P<0.01). Relational problems with spouse
or partner are closely related to the level of understanding responsibility and
commitment.
Problems with Understanding Responsibility and Commitment
Among the survey population, 19.5% reported having problems with
understanding responsibility and commitment. Although the percentage reported is
secondary, the issue of responsibility and commitment in marriage is considered as
an essential element of family. Lack of commitment in marriage is reported as the
cause of what is called “divorce culture” in which marriage is held as an option,
contingent on personal wishes, and a gateway to a more seemingly fulfilling life as
opposed to the “marriage culture” that used to hold marriage as a given, forever

83
relationship (Bellah et al., 1985). The Catholic Church places heavy emphasis on
commitment in marriage because it is a process of growth into an intimate friendship
and a deepening peace. Therefore, the Church encourages married couples to pledge
their love under all circumstances.
Problems with understanding responsibility and commitment were reported by
19.5% of the survey population. In gender relations, commitment in marriage should
be equal. However, I found in the analysis that more males than females have
indicated this problem: 22.24% were males and 17.76% were females.
Under marital status, the never-married had indicated a problem with
commitment 13% more than the married This denotes something unusual. Those who
are never married consider commitment in marriage as a problem long before they are
married. This could be interpreted that they either fear the “divorce culture” that
seems common in the society, or are unwilling to take responsibility and commitment
in marriage due to experiences they had in prior relationships. In my one-on-one
interviews with parishioners, I met with a couple who had to delay their wedding
because the man had serious problems with the concept “commitment.” This person
had been involved in previous relationships with several persons, but none of those
relationships had lasted more than six months. Although he agreed to marry this
woman, he was not yet sure whether this relationship would last long. It is not an
uncommon thing that those who had experienced some kind of failure even in casual

84
TABLE 15
Distribution of Communication Conflict Issues, by Age Group
Age group
Number
Percentage Reported
18-34
213
58.04
35-54
307
60.31
55+
179
47.23
Total
699
Percent of total
55.4
Chi-Square 16.2, P<0.001
relationships find it hard to commit themselves in lasting relationships in marriage.
Communication between couples is essential to mutual responsibility/commitment.
Communication/Conflict Issues
About 55% of our survey population identified communication/conflict issues
in their life. These issues are often clustered around one’s ability or disability to listen
to one’s spouse or partner and to share common concerns of the family. Social
scientists indicate that the lack of communication between couples or partners could
be the result of the fear of disagreement, or misunderstanding, or rejection by one’s
spouse or partner.
Those who are 18-34 years old and 35-54 years old seem to have more
communication/conflict problems than those who are 55 and more. As indicated in
Table 15, communication/conflict issues seem to decrease as people advance in age.

85
As it is true in several other areas, women are more likely to experience (or at
least to report) communication problems than men. When this problem was viewed
under the gender variable, I found statistical significance (PO.Ol) to the effect that
females (58.32%) have higher percentage rates than males (51.16%). The difference
in gender might indicate that females are more inclined to acknowledge
communication/conflict as an important issue in their life than males. Lack of
communication between couples could have an explosive effect on their marriages.
The majority of those who had reported communication as a problem in our sample
belong to the separated, and divorced marital status.
There was statistical significance by educational status (PO.OOl). Of those
who had reported communication/conflict as problems, 62.02% had graduate level
education. This is about 20% higher than those who had high school education. This,
once again, seems to go against the conventional wisdom that higher education would
enable the persons to communicate better with others. Communication is a learned
skill. How much of the academic education is directed to developing the human skill
of communication is a subject of discussion.
Parent/Child Relationship Problems
Parent/child relationship problems were reported by 44.6% of the survey
population. These problems have a high order of priority at the national as well as at
the local level. Coping with the demands of child rearing is acknowledged to be
difficult today by social scientists. On the part of the parents, it calls for commitment,

86
sacrifice, hard work, and high moral values to provide for and educate children. On
the part of the children, it requires obedience, respect, and responsibility to grow in
human, moral, and spiritual dimensions. However, today’s social and economic forces
have engulfed the natural development of the parent/child relationships. According
to a report published by the United States Catholic Conference (1991), more than half
of mothers with children under six are in the workforce, because of the need to meet
their economic needs. Almost one-fourth of the children in the United States are
growing up in single-parent families, most of them headed by women. Middle class
families are facing difficulties such as affording a home, obtaining quality health care,
and paying for their children’s education. Besides these social and economic forces,
there are cultural forces that challenge the parent/child relationships in the families.
The power of communication media has diminished the central position of family and
family relations in the society. It is said that a child in the United States within the
span of eighteen years has watched 22,000 hours of television and listened to 18,000
hours of radio broadcast (Reed, 1994).
The current distribution of single parents in our survey parishes are: St.
Thomas 9.14%, St. Justin 3.94%, St. Francis 6.45%, and St. Benedict 6.11%. These
problems do not exclusively pertain to the single parent or only to women. Of those
who had indicated this problem, 40.46% were males and 47.34% were females.
Though there is a slight increase in the percentage of females, it was not statistically
significant. Men who have children, regardless of their marital status, go through

87
TABLE 16
Distribution of Parent/Child Problems, by Age Group
Age Group
Number
Percentage reported
18-34
111
30.25
35-54
271
53.03
55+
177
46.58
Total
559
Percent of total
44.6
Chi-square 6.0, P<0.01
problems of raising their children. From the survey analysis, it appears that this
problem belongs to the category of those who are in the 35-54 age group.
Table 16 indicates that the 35-54 age group, both male and female, are more
involved in rearing children against the challenging socioeconomic and cultural forces
than the other age groups.
Do the problems related to child rearing lead the couples to divorce? Research
in family relations indicate that when children grow up, they put pressure on the
family to redefine its relationships.
Many adolescents expect to be given allowances to
spend as they wish, to make their own decisions about a
suitable bedtime, and to listen to music that may be
repellent to their parent’s ears. They want to borrow the
family car, sleep over at a friend’s, and pursue interests
other than those traditionally cared about in the family.
They challenge the family’s values and customs; they

88
insist on being treated as equals. All of this causes
disequilibrium within the family system, a sense of loss,
and perhaps a feeling of strangeness until new
transactional patterns restore family balance.
(Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 1985, p.33)
The parents who constantly face such challenges seem to need help to keep the
internal interpersonal processes that take place within a family.
Problems with One’s Parents or In-laws
Problems with one’s parent or in-laws, Table 17, are reported by 38.3% of the
survey population. The sociocultural forces have impacted not only parent/child
relationships but also the child/parent or in-laws relationships. There is a high degree
of geographic mobility among the population. People move to find a career or
advance one. Moving one’s spouse and children to a new place is much less
cumbersome than trying to move a three- or four-generation extended family. This
necessarily implies that the elderly are left alone either in their own homes or in
nursing homes. I visited one of the local nursing homes and talked to some elderly
parents in order to know how they feel about their adult children. There was one
common complaint “My son/daughter does not visit me as much as I wish.” The sons
and daughters of elderly parents are tom between the responsibilities of their nuclear
family demands and parental needs. Of those who indicated having problems with
their parent/in-law, 43.52% were female and 30.89% were male. The higher
percentage of females might indicate that they are more likely to take responsibilities
for parent/in-law than males. There was statistical significance when age groups were

89
TABLE 17
Distribution of Parent/In-laws Problems, by Age Group
Age Group
Number
Percentage Reported
18-34
145
39.62
35-54
236
46.27
55+
99
26.19
Total
480
Percent of total
38.3
Chi-Square 37.4, PO.OOl
compared to this problem (PO.OOl). Those who belong to the 35-54 age group seem
to have more responsibility in dealing with the needs of parents or in-laws. One of the
responsibilities of this age group is to relocate the elderly parents from their former
place to a residence in town. Recently a couple in their 50s had to bring the husband’s
parents (in their 70s) to town because the husband’s father had fractured his knees.
One would expect that this problem would be more prevalent in a parish where
there is a large retired population. Contrary to one’s expectation, St. Benedict parish,
the one with the largest student body, scored a higher percentage rate in this problem.
Of the 404 people who participated in our survey from St. Benedict, 179 persons, that
is, about 44.75%, said that they have parent/in-law problem. It is not uncommon that
students have problems with their parents in the areas of education, finance, and
social relationships. Some parents who support their children financially tend to retain

90
control over some areas of their children’s life. For example, the majority of the
parents would like to know the class test scores, the whereabouts of their children on
the weekend, and a small minority of them are interested in knowing whether their
children attend church services on Sundays. Such controls bring about friction
between parents and students.
The Problems of Unplanned and/or Unwanted Pregnancy
The problems of unplanned and/or unwanted pregnancy are in the lower order
of priority in our survey population when we compare them to the national
population. About 18% of the survey population indicated that they have had an
unplanned and/or unwanted pregnancy in the family. These problems could mean
either the parents themselves are faced with pregnancy that was not well planned and
was outside their economic means or the parents had to deal with a teenage daughter
who became pregnant by accident (unwanted). The latter seems to be a problem at the
national level. The Index of Leading Cultural Indicators shows that the rate of births
to unmarried teenagers in the United States has increased almost 200% since 1960
(Bennett, 1994).
This controversial issue of unwanted pregnancy, especially among teenage
girls, has been the subject of national discussion among public officials, clergy,
teachers, parents, and policy makers. The modulation of the national discussion could
be outlined in the words of Maryann Zihala (1996), a political instructor and freelance
writer.

91
Teen-age girls are having sex willingly because for 30
years we have been telling them it is OK. We are still
condoning their behavior when we tell them that we
would prefer they abstain from sex while we hand them
a condom, just in case. And we continue to take care of
them and their babies when they don’t take our advice
about abstinence, and they don’t use the condom either.
. . . Children don’t handle mixed messages well. What
we need to do is to send a message to these children that
says very clearly that pregnancy when you are a teenager
is not an option.... Society is not going to condone your
behavior anymore. We are not going to give you
contraceptives and abortion counseling We are not going
to allow you to remain in your regular high school and
continue your teen-age social life while your baby is in
day care on another part of the campus. . . .When you
choose to participate in adult behavior, you will be
treated as an adult and you will be forced to accept adult
responsibilities. (Zihala, 1996, p.3G)
Parents with teenagers are constantly being challenged to protect them from
several social forces such as peer pressure and media influences. In a survey
conducted by Mark Clements Research, Inc. among 720 girls aged 12 to 19, 91% of
them said that mothers could be important influences in their life, while 76% of them
rated their fatheras someone who could be “very” or “somewhat” influential in their
life (Chassler, 1997).
Of those who indicated this problem in our survey, 33.72% belonged to the
“divorced’’This percentage is higher than all the rest of marital status groups. It could
mean that these divorced persons face their own problems of pregnancy or that they
are forced to handle the problems of their children who may be under their care after
their marriage had ended in divorce. The later seems true in my one-on-one interview.

92
Divorced and single parents, mostly female, have revealed the fear and anxiety they
experience when their daughters reach the age of puberty.
The middle age group indicated a higher level of this problem than the other
two groups. Of those who had reported this problem, 22.50% belonged to the 35-54
year age group. Once again, this age group seems to be challenged by this problem
that is so vital for the growth of their children.
Personal Problems
There are three kinds of personal problems that we identified in our
preliminary interviews with the people: 1) Problems of loneliness and/or depression,
2) Loss of job or other economic stress, and 3) Problems with self-esteem/worth. I
discuss each briefly and present the data available both in the national and local level.
Problems of Loneliness and/or Depression
Problems of loneliness and/or depression were reported by 52.7% of our
survey population. Depression is often depicted as an emotional state characterized
by extreme dejection, gloomy ruminations, feelings of worthlessness, loss of hope,
and apprehension. Such factors contribute to social isolation.
When you are depressed, you get so frozen in the pain of
the present moment that you forget entirely that you ever
felt better in the past and find it inconceivable that you
might feel more positive in the future. (Bums, 1992,
P 88)
It is estimated that about 35 to 40 million Americans will experience some level of
depression sometime during their lives, with twice as many women as men.

93
TABLE 18
Distribution of Loneliness/Depression Problems, by Gender
Gender
Number
Percentage reported
Male
231
44.51
Female
435
57.85
Total
666
52.7
Percent of total
52.7
Chi-Square 21.9, P<0.001
In the survey population, the problem of loneliness and/or depression was in
a higher order of priority. More females than males reported this problem, as we see
in Table 18. Social scientists attribute this gender bias to vulnerabilities (e.g.,
dependence) intrinsic to the traditional roles assigned to women as well as to the
special stressors with which many women have to cope (e.g., full-time mother and
full-time employment) in attempting to fulfill traditional role requirements (Scarpitti
& Anderson, 1989).
Problems of loneliness/depression could normally be expected among those
who have lost their loved ones or spouses either by divorce or death, or become
chronically sick. During my one-on-one interviews, I have met several such persons
who expressed some of the signs of depression such as anxiety, loss of interest, and
neglect of self-care. And I expected that a higher percentage of our survey population

94
would belong to the age group (55 years and above) that is most likely to have this
problem. Surprisingly and contrary to my expectation, I found that of those who had
these problems, the highest percentage (60.05) belonged to the age group of 18-34.
I made a reality check by having brief telephone interviews with some of the students
known to me on campus. My telephone interviews consisted of two questions: 1)
Have you been experiencing the problem of loneliness/depression recently? 2) If the
answer was “yes,” I asked, could you tell me the things that caused such problems for
you. Out of 10 students, four students had none of these problems recently. Six
students have experienced these problems; they reported the causes of the difficulties.
One said it was “the breakup of a romantic affair,” three said, “separation from a
close friend,” and two said “absences from parents and home.” Problems of
loneliness/depression do not belong to a particular age group; they are prevalent
among persons of all ages and status.
The application of marital status to these problems indicated statistical
significance (PO.OOl). Of those who had reported these problems, 81.25% belonged
to the separated, 77.65% belonged to the divorced, and 70.50% belonged to the never
married. However, the married were only 43.95%. It is apparent that partnership,
companionship, or friendship in marriages could be some of the contributing causes
to optimism and happiness that counteract loneliness/depression in human life.

95
Loss of Job
It is said that the loss of a job is the most serious problem of the work force in
the United States because it disrupts the individual and family development. Many
factors account for the loss of jobs such as shifts in consumer demand and priorities,
government involvement, disputes between management and labor, rapidly changing
technology, and discriminatory employment practices (Scarpitti & Anderson, 1989).
A survey conducted by Time magazine (Church, 1993) asked people to respond to
questions related to the loss of jobs in the United States. When people were asked “Is
job security better or worse for Americans now compared to two years ago?” 66%
said worse, 22% said better, and only 7% said there is no change. It is important to
note here that between 1980 and 1990, according to the national surveys, more than
10 million U.S. workers had lost their jobs due to company restructuring, mergers,
and acquisitions (Haughey, 1991). When the people were asked “If worse, is this job
insecurity just for the short term, or will it last for many years?” Ten percent of the
respondents said they were not sure, 37% said short term, but 53% said it would last
for many years. The trend seems to be continuing into the 1990s. According to a
survey conducted in 1994, large companies have terminated about two million jobs
since 1989 (Reed, 1994). The job crisis also cuts across professional lines in the
health field. A researcher at the Center for the Health Professions at the University
of California at San Francisco says “. . . [the job losses in health care]

96
TABLE 19
Distribution of Job Loss Problems, by Age Group
Age Group
Number
Percentage reported
18-34
137
37.33
35-54
211
41.37
55+
107
28.31
Total
455
Percent of total
35.7
Chi-Square 16.30, PO.OOl
parallel what’s happened in other industries. In the 80s, lower-level folks got
squeezed; in the 90s, it’s upper-level folks and management” (Rosenthal, 1997, p. 1 A).
Table 19 shows that 53.7% of the people in the survey reported having
problems with loss of job or other economic stress. There was no gender bias in
reporting this problem. Females and males are equally represented in their reporting.
Some 25 years ago, the situation was different when men were more in the work force
than women. And this might have been a typical problem of males who worked in
factories and companies. However, the situation today is different. Nearly 65% of
women are said to be in the work force. The response of the people indicates that
women face the same level of job loss problems as men. But, it is often reported in
the media that, certain occupational risks, only for women, have been indicated as the

97
basis for their loss in some jobs. There was statistical significance when the age
groups were compared in the problems related to job loss.
It is not surprising that the problems related to job loss find a high percentage
of people among the first two age groups. It is the prime age for hunting and gathering
in the modem work force. The low percentage of persons belonging to the older age
group might indicate that most of them are either out of the workforce or have saved
sufficient financial resources to support themselves for the rest of their lives.
Economic stress or loss of job was a higher concern among undergraduates and
graduates who need to work to support their education. This concern is a widespread
phenomenon in the nation. According to a Labor Department study released in 1992,
30% of each crop of graduates between then and the year 2005 will face joblessness
or underemployment (Church, 1993). This problem is expected to affect the self¬
esteem/worth of the persons.
Problems Related to Self-esteem/Worth
Problems related with self-esteem/worth are closely linked to the problems of
depression. Depression seems to occur when a person’s strivings are thwarted, either
by external forces or by absence of an appropriate goal. And depression coupled with
frustration could be difficult for the person to cope with because such illnesses so
often are said to lead to self-devaluation. The deprived person feels he or she has
failed in some way. According to research studies, problems with self-worth/self-
esteem are very common in cultures where human worth is considered equal to

98
human achievement. That is to say, “My worth as a human being is proportional to
what I have achieved in my life” (Bums, 1992, p.327). Protestant work ethics in the
United States that seem to emphasize individual effort, self-reliance, and competition
in the marketplace make Americans put in such long hours that they have little time
for anything else. In the last decade, working hours in the U.S. labor force increased
by about 20%, from 40.6 hours a week to 48.8 hours a week, while median hours
spent on leisure decreased by about a third, from 26.2 hours a week to 17.2 hours a
week (Wuthnow, 1993).
In the survey population, 49.5% indicated that they have problems with self¬
worth/esteem. My findings show that women are not immune to workforce related
concerns. Of those who had indicated this problem, 53.40% were females. That is
about 10% higher than males (43.63%). It appears that women are more likely to feel
the problems of self-esteem/worth after the loss or disapproval of something that they
value such as job or husband In my personal interviews, I have come across men and
women who had lost their jobs because of corporate downsizing While it was equally
demanding, both for men and women, to redefine and make an emotional assessment
of themselves after their job loss, I observed that it was harder for women than men.
In the age groups, problems related to self-worth/esteem are higher among those who
are 18-34 year and lower among those who are 55+ Table 20 presents this problem
as reported by age groups.

99
TABLE 20
Distribution of Seif-Esteem/Worth Problems, by Age Group
Age Group
Number
Percentage Reported
18-34
211
57.49
35-54
256
50.20
55+
155
41.01
Total
622
Percent of total
49.5
Chi-Square 20.3, PO.OOl
It is understandable that the age group 18-34 is more challenged by the
sociocultural forces such as achievement and economic status than the other two age
groups. Self-esteem/worth is said to have its foundation also in parental affirmation
of worth and respect in the early childhood stage. In the context of today’s “divorce
culture,” it is a missing link.
Under marital status, of those who had reported this problem, 81.25% were of
the separated, 66.28% were of the divorced, and the lowest were of the married
(43.76%). The statistical significance was high (PO.OOl). People who are separated
or divorced from their spouses have to re-identify themselves. They must change their
former self-identity that was closely associated with their roles as wives or husbands.
Those who stay married with their partners seem to have relatively less problem with
self-esteem/worth.

100
Personal Prayer as an Indicator of the Problems
In the preceding section I discussed the problems reported by the respondents.
In a subsequent chapter, I explore to what degree those who reported the problems
seek help from the pastoral staff on the problems. But from the literature on medical
anthropology, we know that people may try home remedies before going to medicine
men or physicians. So, in this parish setting, I hypothesized that people may try
praying personally about the problem (whether at home or in church) before going to
see pastoral staff about the problems. For each of the problems on the questionnaire,
I asked people whether they prayed personally about that problem. In the following
section I discuss their responses in this matter. Table 21 presents the number and the
percentage of people who pray about the problem. I ranked the problems according
to the percentage of reported personal prayer.
My survey findings on human problems seem to indicate that there are some
problems that are more frequently reported than the others. Problems related to
communication/conflict, loneliness, self-esteem/worth, parent/child relationship,
spouse/partner relationship, parent/in-laws relationship, job loss, and health rank
among the most reported in our survey population. Problems related to education,
responsibility/commitment, unplanned/unwanted pregnancy, domestic violence,
drugs/alcohol, and crime rank in the least reported. It is interesting to make an
observation here that some vital problems of the nation rank among the least reported

101
TABLE 21
Number and Percentage of People Who Experience a Problem
and Pray about the Problem
(N=1293)
Problem Domain
No. Problems
Reported
No. with
Problems Who
Prayed
Percent Who
Prayed
Health
451
254
56.3
Spouse/Partner
548
301
54.9
Parent/Child
572
212
54.5
Job Loss
457
216
47.0
Communication/Conflict
701
305
43.5
Loneliness/Depression
674
290
43.0
Education
291
117
40.2
Self-esteem/W orth
633
246
39.0
Domestic Violence
221
78
35.3
Responsibility/Commitment
249
84
34.0
Parents/In-laws
490
163
33.2
Drugs/Alcohol
196
63
32.1
Pregnancy
227
49
21.5
Crime
189
19
10.0
problems in our sample population. From the national data, we know that the crime,
drugs/alcohol, and teenage pregnancy trends are the hottest issues in the national level
today.

102
TABLE 22
Ranking of Problems by Frequency of Occurrence and Personal Prayer
Problem Domain
Rank Freq. Occur
Rank Personal Pray
Health
8
1
Drugs/Alcohol
13
12
Domestic violence
12
9
Parent/Children
4
3
Parent/In-laws
6
11
Pregnancy
11
13
Crime
14
14
Spouse/Partner
5
2
Job loss
7
4
Education
9
7
Loneliness/Depression
2
6
Responsibility/Commitment
10
10
Communication/Conflict
1
5
Self-esteem/W orth
3
8
As Table 21 indicates, not all high-ranking reported problems are equal objects
of engagement in personal prayer. Problems related to communication/conflict ranked
first in the report. However, the same ranking did not hold in personal prayer. In
Table 22,1 ranked the problems using the frequency of occurrence and engagement
in personal prayer.

103
It seems that people would frequently pray for what they considered the most
valuable in life. One out of two persons seems to pray frequently for health-related
problems. From anthropological traditions, we know that the healers of health
problems were greatly admired by the people. For example, shamans were socially
recognized and approached as the specialists of rituals in the early communities. The
shamans were believed to gain control over spirit beings and supernatural forces in
order to identify the causes of illness and eventually to cure them. People went to the
shamans when they had crises, especially sickness, with a certain amount of trust in
their magical or spiritual powers. They wanted to be healed. The trend continues
today. Even in the modem days of advanced medical technology, people look to their
religion for healing. This trend is well documented. Data collected by a Time/CNN
telephone poll taken on June 12-13, 1996, indicated that when people were asked
about their belief in the healing power of God, 77% of a total 1,004 persons said
“yes.” Scientific evidence is escalating to say that there is a correlation between one’s
religious beliefs and improved health situations. According to the Time magazine
report, a survey of 30 years research on blood pressure has shown that churchgoers
have lower blood pressure than non-churchgoers (-5 mm lower), even when adjusted
to account for smoking and other risk factors (Church, 1993). Drawing comfort and
strength from one’s faith has been established as the best predictor of survival among
232 heart-patients. Those who did not draw strength from their religious faith had
more than three times the death rate of those who did (Church, 1993). People often

104
approach the priests and request prayers for various causes. But the most frequent
request has been for prayers for healing of the sick.
Relational problems also seem to be the objects of frequent prayer in our
sample population. In particular, relationships between spouses/partners, parent/child,
children/parents or in-laws, are considered important. In my conversation with some
of the local priests, I found that most of their pastoral working hours are spent helping
parishioners with these problems. The diversity of other issues that are often
identified in pastoral works are: disagreement on parental roles, discontent with ways
of home management, disagreement on some church teachings, and church
involvement.
Relational problems seem to take priority over personal problems. However,
people pray over their loneliness/depression, self-esteem/worth, and other problems
related to job and education. During my interviews a female single parent requested
that I pray for her regaining self-confidence. She said that she was divorced two years
ago. She has two children, one boy and one girl. She has a job, but the money was not
enough to support the family. She receives alimony from her ex-husband by court
order. From her casual conversation, I was given to understand that this woman had
not yet overcome the “transition trauma” of her divorce. She was hostile to the
situation, confused about her parental role, and uncertain about the future of her
children. People like this single parent need help to deal with their day-to-day human
problems.

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In this section, I have discussed the human problems reported by the survey
sample. I have ranked them by frequency of occurrence and frequency of engagement
in personal prayer. The rankings indicate that 1) not all problems have equal
reporting, 2) not all reported problems are equal objects of personal prayer, and 3)
some problems such as relationship problems hold middle ranking both in frequency
of occurrence and frequency of personal prayer. Later, I discuss whether people who
reported problems sought help from the pastoral staff on these problems.

CHAPTER 4
RELIGIOUS BELIEFS
In the previous chapter, I discussed the human problems indicated by the
survey population. With this chapter, I begin a description and analysis of the
specifically religious dimensions of their experience. Ethnographies of religious
systems often subdivide this important cultural system into at least three constituent
subsystems: religious beliefs, religious rituals (or ceremonies), and religious
specialists. These subsystems can be seen as universal or virtually universal
components of religious systems. All religious systems have spirit beliefs of one sort
or another, rituals to influence or otherwise interact with these spirits, and specialists
who are viewed as more skilled or authorized to deal with the spirit world.
In this chapter I focus on the beliefs of the respondents I interviewed and
surveyed. In subsequent chapters I deal with their religious practices and with the
religious specialists from whom they seek help.
Belief in spirits is a fundamental element in a religious system. The term
“animism” describes the belief of the preliterate cultures (Tylor, 1871). According to
animistic beliefs, early peoples believed that the human being was constituted of two
elements, the body and the soul. They believed that not only individuals have souls,
but also animals and plants. The souls of humans, animals, and plants continue to
106

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exist after the physical being ceases to exist (Wallace, 1966). Belief in supernatural
forces was characterized in Mana (Marett, 1901), Totem (Durkheim, 1961), and
Taboo (Kroeber, 1920/1979).
With the emergence of evolutionary theory in the 19th century, scholars began
speculating as to the evolution of religion. These speculations were given an empirical
base in the work of Swanson (1962), who presented evidence that the spirit world (or
rather the nature of human belief in the spirit world) has evolved in tandem with the
evolution of the human sociopolitical systems. Swanson traces a progression from
belief in zoomorphic spirits to anthropomorphic spirits to high gods to the eventual
emergence of monotheistic belief in a Supreme Being. This shift in the nature of the
spirit world parallels a shift from hunting-gathering to agriculture and, eventually, to
the highly stratified sociopolitical systems of early agrarian states. The spirit world,
in Swanson’s view, to some degree mirrors the sociopolitical world in which the
believers function.
Roman Catholicism emerged in the context of the Roman Empire, and it is,
thus, not surprising that it is characterized by a monotheistic belief system. (Contrary
to certain intersectarian stereotypes, Catholic Trinitarian beliefs do not entail belief
in three gods. In Catholicism there is only one God, one divine nature, which has
three manifestations.) Catholicism, like all other religions, has categories of beliefs.
These beliefs are given expressions in the ritual practices which I discuss in Chapter
5. To anticipate, I classify the practices into the core Catholic Sacraments, the

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Catholic sacramentáis, and the general Christian practices. Each of these practices,
however, is in some way linked to a belief or beliefs. For example, the ritual of Mass
itself calls forth belief in the spiritual reenactment of the death and resurrection of
Jesus who now becomes the spiritual food for the faithful. The readings from the
scriptures in the Mass offer several models or paradigms for the participants. For
example, the story of the man bom blind who received sight from Jesus may inspire
the participants to make their belief in Jesus to obtain a new vision of the meaning of
life. Even the general Christian practice of saying Grace at meals may remind the
person about the benevolent nature of God and His providence. Such beliefs,
according to Newman and Pargament (1990), could provide the person with
emotional support and interpretation of the meaning of human problems in religious
terms.
Because practices make sense (at least emically) only in terms of the beliefs
that rationalize them, I dedicate this chapter to a discussion of the Catholic beliefs
among the survey population and, later, I present an analysis on the level of religious
beliefs and practices. The purpose of this analysis would be to indicate what
percentage of the survey population use their religious beliefs and practices to
interpret, explain, and validate the human problems that they face in life.
Catholic Beliefs: A Brief Overview
Catholic beliefs have developed through the centuries in response to the needs
of the different eras in the Church. It would be beyond my present scope to get into

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the historical developments of such beliefs. For a comprehensive overview of the
Catholic beliefs, I classified them into three groups: 1) Beliefs concerning the nature
of the spirit world, 2) ethical and moral beliefs, and 3) beliefs concerning certain
traditional Church regulations.
With respect to beliefs about the spirit world, I restrict my discussion to five
core items: 1) The Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, 2) The Virginal
Conception of Jesus, 3) The Bodily Resurrection of Jesus, 4) Life after Death, and 5)
The Eternity of Hell. I present a discussion of official and traditional Catholic
teachings about each of these items. I then compare and contrast the official teaching
with the beliefs indicated by our respondents.
Similarly, under the topic of ethical and moral beliefs, I have singled out six
items for analysis: 1) premarital sex, 2) extra-marital sex, 3) divorce and annulments,
4) the use of contraceptives, 5) homosexuality, and 6) abortion. Finally, with respect
to ecclesiastical practice-regulations, I have singled out two items that are traditional
practices in the Catholic Church and are currently arenas of public controversy: 1)
priestly celibacy and 2) the male Catholic priesthood.
Core Catholic Beliefs with Regard to the Spirit World
The doctrinal nature of the Catholic beliefs is said to consist in the official
approval of the Church either by way of an ecumenical council (Vatican II) or by a
Pope, or by a body of bishops with the Pope (synod). The sources of such beliefs are
the Sacred Scriptures and Tradition. Catholics believe that the revelation of God is

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contained not only in written books (Scriptures), but also in the unwritten traditions
that the disciples of Jesus received from Jesus himself and handed on. The Vatican
II documents reiterated the link that exists between the Scriptures and Tradition.
There exists a close connection and communication
between Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture. For both
of them, flowing from the same divine wellspring, in a
certain way merge into a unity and tend toward the same
end. . . . Consequently, it is not from Sacred Scripture
alone that the Church draws her certainty about
everything which has been revealed. Both Sacred
Tradition and Sacred Scripture are to be accepted and
venerated with the same sense of loyalty and reverence.
(Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, II, p.9)
I next focus on the 5 core beliefs which I have singled out for analysis.
The Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist
The Catholic belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist has its
historical foundation in the words of Jesus recorded in the first century.
I am the bread of life. ... I am the living bread that has
come down from Heaven. . . . For my flesh is real food
and my blood is real drink. He who eats my flesh and
drinks my blood lives in me and I live in him. (John,
6:48-58)
This decisive promise of the Real Presence of Jesus is believed to find its fulfillment
in the Eucharist at the last supper in the very words of Jesus: “This is my body and
my blood.”
The Catholic Church has maintained the presence of Jesus in several ways.
The Church believes that Jesus is present in his words, in his Church’s prayer, in the

Ill
poor, in the Sacraments, in the sacrifice of the Mass, and in the person of the priest
who celebrates the Mass in the parish. However, Jesus’ Real Presence in the
Eucharist is believed to be unique. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994) says
that,
in the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist, the body
and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our
Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is
truly, really, and substantially contained. (No: 1374,
p.346)
From the year 1215, at the Fourth Lateran Council, the Real Presence of Jesus
in the Eucharist in the Catholic Church came to be known by the term
“transubstantiation,” which means that by the consecration of the bread and wine
there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread and wine into the
substance of the body and blood of Jesus. Down through the centuries, Catholics have
upheld this belief of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist on the ground of the
efficacy of the Word of Jesus and of the action of the Holy Spirit to bring about the
transubstantiation (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1994, No: 1375). Table 23
shows the breakdown of the belief by gender and age groups.
A New York Times/CBS national poll conducted on April 21-23 in 1994
pointed out the general direction of Catholic belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in
the Blessed Sacrament. According to the survey, almost two-thirds of American
Catholics seemed to believe that the bread and wine used in Mass are sacred symbols
of Christ, rather than the real body and blood of Christ (Steinfels, 1995). However,

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TABLE 23
Responses to the Teaching That Christ Is
Physically (Real) Present in the Eucharist
Age Group
Male
Female
18-34
% agree
56.1
58.6
% disagree
43.9
41.4
35-54
% agree
62.4
61.9
% disagree
37.6
38.1
55+
% agree
67.3
76.8
% disagree
32.7
23.2
the Roper poll, conducted in the beginning of 1997, showed a reversal trend in the
Eucharistic belief. Sixty-two percent of the respondents said that they strongly believe
that the bread and wine used in Mass are really transformed into the body and blood
of Jesus Christ (Lawler, 1997).
The responses revealed that there is a tendency for adherence to traditional
beliefs in the real presence to be stronger in the older age groups. Table 23 above
indicates that males and females hold similar beliefs except in the older age groups,
where females are more traditional in their beliefs. Nearly half, both male and female
in the age group 18-34, seem to believe in the symbolic rather than the Real Presence
of Jesus in the Eucharist. This is a departure from the traditional belief that

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distinguished Catholicism from the other denominations of Christianity. Several
studies have suggested that due to cultural assimilation, Catholics are becoming
indistinguishable from the rest of the population. This departure from the traditional
belief in the Eucharist could be analyzed as a threat, even from a purely
anthropological perspective, to the distinct Catholic identity of future parishes. The
overall data seems to indicate that the core belief that has distinguished Catholics
from Protestants is in the process of being jettisoned among the post-Vatican II
generation.
Can we interpret the age differences in Table 23 in a life cycle framework?
Perhaps the younger generation, about half of whom now reject traditional belief,
might embrace traditional belief in the Eucharist when they grow older. According
to some of the respondents, this interpretation seems highly unlikely. The mechanisms
for effecting a change toward distinguishing traditional belief seem to be missing: the
absence of parents to teach the children in the families, the shortage of the priests and
religious to teach in the parish level, and the disappearance of Catholic schools in the
national level. This suggests that Catholicism is dealing, not with a life cycle
phenomenon, but with a secular and probably unidirectional trend.
The Virginal Conception of Jesus
On Sundays and Holy days of obligation, Catholics make profession of faith
through a formal formula called the “credo.” One element contained in the “credo”

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is that Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit, was bom of the Virgin Mary, which
means that Jesus was conceived without the intervention of a human father.
The foundation for this belief is traced to the Gospel writings of the first
century. Matthew, one of the gospel writers, says in the Infancy Narration (Jesus’
birth story) “that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit” (Mt.1,20). The
Catholic Church interprets Mary’s virginal Conception of Jesus as the fulfillment of
the promise seen in the Old Testament, “Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a
son” (Is. 7,14). This traditional understanding of this doctrine remains an integral part
of the Catholic belief that preserves the unity of the divine and the human in Jesus:
that He was truly divine (role of the Holy Spirit) and human (role of the Blessed
Virgin Mary).
Another litmus test of Catholic belief is the conception and birth of Jesus.
Belief in the virginal Conception of Jesus is fundamental to Catholicism and to many
Protestant churches. National polls have not included this question in their surveys
for the possible reason that this belief marks the “party line.” The belief that Jesus
was conceived by the Power of the Holy Spirit (without human input) has been a core
teaching of the Church since its inception. Anyone professing or even believing
differently would have been labeled as non-Catholic. I included this question in the
survey to ascertain how many participants would respond to the traditional teaching
on this matter. Table 24 presents the distribution by gender and age groups.

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TABLE 24
Responses to the Teaching That
Jesus Was Conceived without Male Input
Age Group
Male
Female
18-34
% agree
81.5
86.9
% disagree
18.5
13.1
35-54
% agree
81.3
79.4
% disagree
18.7
20.6
55+
% agree
80.3
88.2
% disagree
19.7
11.8
Table 24 shows that adherence to the belief in Mary’s virginal conception of
Jesus is much stronger than adherence to belief in the real presence of Jesus in the
Eucharist. A vast majority of respondents said that they believe in the Virginal
Conception of Jesus. However, a very small percentage of respondents across all age
groups and between gender responded that they disagree about it. Motivated by
personal curiosity, I contacted 10 persons of different age groups in the parishes to
know exactly the meaning of “disagreement” about this belief. Their responses were:
“I don’t understand it,” “It was not explained to us,” “I passively accept it,” “It does
not affect me personally,” and “It is above my head.” Three out of five of these
persons indicated the lack of teaching in this belief.

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The Resurrection of Jesus
Though differing in their details, all four Gospels affirm that Jesus was
executed on a Friday and rose from the dead the following Sunday morning. The
Resurrection of Jesus has been accepted as central to Christian faith and preaching
from the early centuries. StPaul, after his conversion, wrote to the faithful at Corinth
around the year 56 "if Christ has not been raised then our preaching is useless and
your believing is useless" (1 Cor: 15,14). The basis of this belief is ascertained in the
experience and witness of the disciples of Jesus. The New Testament is replete with
the witnesses of disciples who are said to have seen and touched and checked the
traces of Jesus’ crucifixion. The disciples gave witness that Jesus appeared to them
with the same body that had been tortured and crucified, but at the same time they
have recorded events that testify that the risen body of Jesus was different. It was a
glorified body, not limited by space and time.
The belief in the Resurrection of Jesus has been the hope of believer’s
resurrection. Catholics believe that Jesus by His resurrection has opened the way to
a New Life, meaning Heaven. Such a belief has demanded from Christians a
committed life and a break away from all that would damage the spiritual relation
with Jesus: "Those of us who die and are buried with him will also rise with him to
a new life" (Rom.6,3). Let us examine the response of the participants in Table 25.
There is a third "litmus test" belief of the traditional Christian: belief in the
bodily resurrection of Jesus, as per the accounts in all four Gospels is held very

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TABLE 25
Responses to the Teaching That
Jesus Rose Physically from the Dead
Age Group
Male
Female
18-34
% agree
70.5
77.4
% disagree
29.5
22.6
35-54
% agree
83.6
78.0
% disagree
16.4
22.0
55+
% agree
75.3
86.0
% disagree
24.7
14.0
important in the Catholic Church because it reveals the divine side of Jesus, as well
as it serves as a pattern for the believer’s own resurrection. Our survey indicates that
majority believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus. However, among those who
belong to the 18-34 age group, almost every three out of five tend to believe that
Christ’s resurrection was only spiritual. It is not surprising that this age group,
immersed in the culture of science and enquiry, would find it hard to accept the
religious beliefs as a matter of reality or fact.
In an age where human beings are striving to predict and control events,
Catholic belief in the resurrection seem to serve as a principle to predict believer’s
new state of life after death. During my visits with the patients in terminal illness, I

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have seen how they viewed their suffering and pain in the light of their belief in the
resurrection of Jesus. They drew much spiritual strength from their belief that one day
their physical suffering and pain will disappear when they are able to be with the
Risen Lord.
Life, after Death
Belief in the immortality of the human soul is one of the articles of the
Catholic creed. Stated succinctly: the body dies and dissolves, the soul continues to
live, and body and soul will again be united at the end of the world. The Scriptures
contain several images that refer to the eternal life: life, light, wedding garment,
wedding feast, wine of the kingdom, the Father’s house, the heavenly Jerusalem, and
paradise. The Church uses these images in rituals and prayers constantly to remind
its faithful to live a life of union with God. For example, in the ritual of Baptism, the
person is clothed with a white garment with the following words,
you have become a new creation, and have clothed
yourself in Christ. See in this garment the outward sign
of your Christian dignity. With your family and friends
to help you by word and example, bring that dignity
unstained into everlasting life of Heaven. (Rite of
Baptism, No: 12)
The Catholic Church believes that a state of grace is a necessary requirement for the
life everlasting, and teaches that, “Heaven is the ultimate end and fulfillment of the
deepest human longings, the state of supreme, and definitive happiness” (Catechism

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TABLE 26
Responses to the Teaching That
the Human Soul Continues to Live after Death
Age Group
Male
Female
18-34
% agree
87.4
90.7
% disagree
12.6
9.3
35-54
% agree
90.4
89.4
% disagree
9.6
10.6
55+
% agree
85.3
90.8
% disagree
14.7
9.2
of the Catholic Church, 1994, No: 1024, p.267). Table 26 shows the repondents’ belief
in life after death.
Survey results corroborate with the National survey conducted by Time/CNN
on March 1997. When asked “Do you believe in the existence of Heaven, where
people live forever with God after they die?” 81% of the people nationwide said “yes”
(Biema, 1997, p.73). The percentages in the sample across all ages and between
gender are even a little higher than the national percentage. However, it is important
to note that 14.7% of males, belonging to the age group 55+ disagreed with the belief
in life after death. One would expect that as people grow older, they would be
stronger in their belief in life after death. From my conversation with the people of

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this age group, I found that the possible reasons not to believe in life after death
among this group are 1) they live with the anxiety about the nearness of death, and
they are afraid of death because they are not sure about their faith, and 2) they desire
to live longer here. Life after death does not make a lot of sense. This life is seen as
fun and beautiful. And when they are about to die, they hope that somehow they will
be saved through modem medicine and life support technology.
I discovered some common feelings among the people, especially of the older
generation, that they do not hear much about life after death in the sermons, except
when they attend the funeral services of their loved ones. When I asked the question
“would you like to hear more about things that would happen after death?” the
response was positive. However enjoyable and beautiful this life is, the ultimate
question of human life (what is after death?) seems an inevitable thing to be addressed
here on earth. Religion and religious specialists both ordained and non-ordained may
serve as agents to explain and interpret future life after death in the light of religious
beliefs and teachings.
The Eternity of Hell
The Catholic belief affirms the existence of Hell and its eternity. It is a
traditional belief that those who die in a state of mortal sin will suffer the punishment
of Hell.

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The chief punishment of Hell is eternal separation from
God, in whom alone man can possess the life and
happiness for which he was created and for which he
longs. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1994,
No: 1035, p.270)
The Catholic Church bases the eternity of Hell on the words of Christ’s
prediction of the last judgment. The scene is presented in the Gospel of Matthew,
25:34-41, where Christ as Judge would say to those unjust, “Go away from me, with
your curse upon you, to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”
Implicit in the Catholic belief in Hell and its eternity is the exercise of human
free will to choose. Human persons have the freedom to accept or reject God and so
face eternal destiny of Heaven or Hell. The Church in its ritual prayers often prays
for the mercy of God upon His people for the reason that God does not want anyone
to perish, but all to come to repentance (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1994,
No: 1037). The acceptance of eternal punishment doctrine may add seriousness to
one’s moral responsibilities and decisions. Table 27 shows the distribution of the
respondents.
In the Time/CNN national survey, 60% of the survey population responded
positively when they were asked, “Do you believe in Hell, where people are punished
forever after they die?” (Biema, 1997, p. 73). However, in our survey, nearly 60% of
the respondents across all ages and between gender disagreed even when the question
was presented in a manner that implied individual freedom. This is an important
departure from the traditional belief of the Catholic Church. I learned from my inter-

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TABLE 27
Responses to the Teaching That
Those Who Die in Grave Sin Will Spend Eternity in Hell
Age Group
Male
Female
18-34
% agree
41.7
41.2
% disagree
58.3
58.8
35-54
% agree
45.8
41.2
% disagree
54.2
58.8
55+
% agree
47.3
46.0
% disagree
52.7
54.0
views with different people of different age groups the possible reasons for such a
departure. The older age group said, “We grew up with the thought of ‘fear of God.’
We were taught that God will punish us if we do anything wrong. But now we hear
that God cannot punish us no matter what we do. He is a God of love and not a God
of punishment. But some of us still believe that God will reprimand us if we do wrong
things. We need to do good things, and they will pay off.” One person of this group
added humorously that “Hell cannot be worse than what we are experiencing. We are
already paying here.”
The belief of the younger generations seem to be impacted by the cultural
ingredients such as: “discussion,” “understanding,” “sharing,” and “forgiving.” One

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person of this group said, “My parents do not punish me. They want me first to talk
and explain why I did wrong. When I say ‘sorry,’ they forgive me. I think God will
do the same thing.” Several persons of this group are inclined to refuse to believe that
God will send anyone to Hell.
There seems to be a shift of emphasis from the “fear of God” to “love of God”
in the sermons and educational programs in the parishes. However, the shift of
emphasis seems to have created the denial of the “fear of God” that has been
identified as the beginning of wisdom in Judeo-Christian tradition. From the part of
the Church, the purpose in the shift of emphasis (love of God) is not to allow anyone
to do anything (sin), rather to motivate people to do things for God out of love and
personal responsibility, because God loved us first (1 John 4: 18-19).
If we compare Table 27, in which the majority deny the existence of Hell, with
the preceding, in which an overwhelming majority affirm the existence of an after
life, we see that about 60% of the respondents across all age groups have a belief that
seems to guarantee them happiness in Heaven no matter what they do on Earth.
Catholic Beliefs: Ethical or Moral Nature
The beliefs discussed in the preceding section were doctrinal in nature. I now
examine responses to opinions and beliefs about ethical and moral issues. Catholic
morality is founded on the firm conviction that the norms for good and bad human
behaviors were given by God Humans are obligated to discover those norms and live
accordingly. The norms of human behaviors are revealed through God’s creation

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(natural law) and God’s revelation (religion). The natural law implies the purposes
or goals which are inherent in creations because God made them. The Church teaches
that “Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid on
himself but which he must obey. Its voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is
good and to avoid evil, sounds in his heart at the right moment” (Constitution on the
Church in the Modem World, No: 16). The norms based on God’s revealed words,
formulated by religion, are meant to clarify, build, and reinforce this natural moral
sense of human persons. For example, the New Testament has many examples of
Jesus preaching and reinforcing the moral norms of the Ten Commandments. He set
many higher standards of behavior than the Old Testament prescribed for His
followers (Mt. 5:20-22).
It is a Catholic doctrine that the moral quality of human actions depends on
three sources: 1) the object chosen, 2) the intention, and 3) the circumstances of the
action. These three constitutive elements compose the morality of human behaviors.
The role of conscience is considered as an important means of apprehending and
interpreting moral human behavior. In the Catholic tradition, conscience is defined
as the human ability to judge one’s own behavior as closely as possible to how God
sees it. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church asserts, “Faced with a moral choice,
conscience can make either a right judgment in accordance with reason and the divine
law or, on the contrary, an erroneous judgment that departs from them” (No: 1786, p.

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440). Therefore, the Church insists upon the education of the conscience as a lifelong
task that begins at home.
Christian moral norms, in general, are permeated by the spirit of
commandments of the love of God and of neighbor. This law of love, when practiced
in life, is said to fulfill all the moral norms that a Christian is expected to observe. I
briefly discuss here some beliefs that are of moral nature.
Nonmarital Sexuality
Nonmarital sexuality here means premarital, extramarital, and homosexual
relations. Catholic teaching regarding sexuality is the domain that is perhaps most
commented on, critiqued, and parodied by the media and entertainment industry. It
is useful to discuss briefly what the Church teaching actually is.
Human sexuality is seen as a gift from God whose principal function is the
continuation of the human race. This belief is supported by the Scripture passage
“God created man in the image of himself, in the image of God he created him, male
and female he created them. God blessed them, saying to them, ‘Be fruitful, multiply,
fill the earth and conquer it’” (Gen. 1:27-28). Hence, the purpose of the sexual act in
marriage is procreation and expression of essential mutual love between the spouses.
Any sexual act outside of marital relations (premarital sex, extramarital sex,
homosexual acts) is always considered wrong.
The essential reproductive function of marriage is viewed as unfolding in the
context of a voluntary and permanent covenant between a man and a woman. Keeping

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with the biblical and traditional understanding of human sexuality in the context of
marriage, the Catholic Church continues to teach the essential nature of marriage as
an irrevocable and faithful covenant which each partner freely bestows on and accepts
from each other (The Rite of Marriage, 1970).
Premarital sex or fornication as the voluntary sexual intercourse between two
unmarried persons was forbidden from the beginning of Christianity. The teachings
of Christian sexual morality often make references to the St.Paul’s letters to the
people at Corinth who seem to have had problems with the demands of Christian
morality. The central message of such references is that acts of fornication are
deviations from the divine will. The Church, having become aware of the increased
climate of sensuality today, admonishes the youth that
chastity before marriage is the best preparation for
fidelity in marriage; and that the selfless love that is
cultivated between the man and woman who plan to
marry is the only love that can sustain them through life
after they are married. (Hardon, 1981, p. 382)
Extramarital sex often refers to the act of adultery, and adultery in the Church
is considered marital infidelity. The Catholic Church has traditionally used the union
between Christ and his Church as a sign to encourage the couples to stay in love and
fidelity. Through the Sacrament of Marriage, the couples are enabled to represent this
fidelity and give witness to it. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994) states
that those who commit adultery fail in their fidelity and transgress the rights of the
other spouse (1994, No:2381, p.572).

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Even more so than in teachings on premarital sex, the Church’s official
teachings on homosexuality set it at militant odds against the mass media and
government. Whereas contemporary society, at least as presented in the media and in
official government policy, views homosexuality as a valid sexual orientation, the
Catholic tradition has consistently declared that homosexual acts are intrinsically
disordered and sinful. The condemnation derives from the following reasons: they are
contrary to the natural law (Rom, 1:27); they close the sexual acts to the gift of life;
and they do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarily
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1994.) Following this declaration of the Church,
the Catholic Bishops Conference of the United States said that homosexual acts are
“a grave transgression of the goals of human sexuality and of human personality, and
are consequently contrary to the will of God” (Catholic Bishops Conference of the
United States, 1973, p.3).
The Church, however, makes a distinction between homosexual acts and
homosexual orientation. The former are viewed as objectively disordered and wrong.
The latter is in itself, however, not viewed as sinful, as it may be beyond the
voluntary control of the individual. Although the Church’s condemnation of
homosexual acts is severe, it advises the priests to treat men and women who have
deep seated homosexual tendencies with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.
The attitudes of American Catholics on sexual matters have gone in directions
quite different from official Church teachings. Earlier studies in human sexuality

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TABLE 28
Responses to the Teaching That
Premarital Sex Is Sinful
Age Group
Male
Female
18-34
% agree
41.4
46.1
% disagree
58.6
53.9
35-54
% agree
51.6
45.4
% disagree
48.4
54.6
55+
% agree
68.0
75.7
% disagree
32.0
24.3
indicated that there was a significant decline in objections to premarital sexuality
among Catholics. For example, Pierre Hegy (1993) reported that the Catholics who
considered premarital sex as always wrong dropped from 38% in 1972 to 18% in
1990. Approval of premarital sex among Catholics went from 21% to 44%.
My survey results agree with these earlier studies. Table 28 shows the majority
of those 18-34 disagree that premarital sex is sinful. Research studies on youth and
sexuality suggest that this age group lives under enormous peer pressure, responding
to a mentality that says, “Everybody is doing it, just do it.” In my one-on-one inter¬
views, I met with students who come from strong, traditional Catholic families, yet

129
they struggle to make decisions as to whether they should remain chaste until
marriage or succumb to social pressures for premarital sex.
In my data, I find disagreement with Church teaching on premarital sex among
all age groups. Even in the most traditional group, those 55 or older, one out of three
rejected Church teaching on the sinfulness of premarital sex. One might assume that
those who agree with Church teaching on this matter have retained values that were
taught to them in their childhood. However, my one-on-one interviews suggested that
in some cases, adherence to Church teaching derives at least in part from their
dissatisfaction with what they view to be the fruits of adherence to a libertine
philosophy. Older respondents lived through the “sexual revolution” of the 1960s and
early the 1970s and some admitted to having been active participants therein. Their
experiences were not of liberation but of guilt and inner tension, and they would like
to protect their children and grandchildren from these negative experiences. Several
parents engage in dialogue with their children in order to educate them on the value
of abstinence until marriage.
However, there appears to be a difference between these middle-aged or older
former participants in the sexual revolution and younger Catholics. When the former
joined the sexual revolution in their youth, they did so with a sense that they were
doing something wrong. Today’s youth, in contrast, simply reject Church teaching on
this matter of premarital sex. Many of them have fully adapted to contemporary

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TABLE 29
Responses to the Teaching That
Extramarital Sex Is Sinful for Married People
Age Group
Male
Female
18-34
% agree
98.0
99.5
% disagree
2.0
0.5
35-54
% agree
96.9
92.5
% disagree
3.1
7.5
55+
% agree
96.8
98.6
% disagree
3.2
1.4
American norms which view sexual contact between boyfriends and girlfriends as
totally natural and innocent.
Several national polls have indicated that marital fidelity is still the norm for
the majority of Americans (Woodward, 1993). A majority of my respondents agree
that extramarital sex is siniul for married people (Table 29). The percentage of those
who agree is greater in the 18-34 group than in the other two age groups. This might
suggest that the children or the grandchildren have experienced the impact of the
infidelity of marriage in their parents or grandparents lives. Infidelity often results in
divorce and the victims of such divorces are the children. Due to divorces, several of
these children are raised by a divorced single parent or by grandparents. A very

131
conservative attitude towards extramarital sexuality among this age group, therefore,
might have resulted from the negative outcome of their personal problems witnessed
in their parents’ life.
There is a discrepancy between responses to extramarital sex and to premarital
sex. Whereas six out of ten of the younger group, and half of the middle-aged group,
disagree with Church teaching on premarital sex and say that it can be acceptable
under certain circumstances, there is almost total rejection of extramarital sex among
all age groups. Why? I suspect that it is not a matter of differential adherence to
Church teaching on two different matters, but rather, stated more simply, a matter of
full adherence to the modem trends on both issues. As mentioned above, though there
is widespread acceptance of premarital sexuality in mainstream American society,
there is continued rejection of extramarital affairs.
From my conversation with some of those 35-54,1 learned that there is very
low tolerance among the public for infidelity in marriage. Irresponsible behaviors are
discussed on national television and laws are enforced to protect the rights of those
affected by spousal infidelity. One of the people from this interview said, “In the past,
nobody talked about extramarital affairs. It was private and taboo to speak out. But
today nothing is private. Everything is out there in the air. In a way, it helps to learn
and discipline ourselves.” Table 30 presents the distribution of respondents on the
issue of homosexuality.

132
TABLE 30
Responses to the Teaching That
Homosexual Acts Are Inherently Sinful
Age Group
Male
Female
18-34
% agree
60.3
48.6
% disagree
39.7
51.4
35-54
% agree
67.9
49.3
% disagree
32.1
50.7
55+
% agree
77.1
78.4
% disagree
22.9
21.6
The responses to homosexuality show an ambivalence that is neither the full
rejection that is found toward extramarital sex nor the widespread tolerance, at least
among younger groups, on the issue of premarital sex. A majority of all age groups
reject homosexuality, a rejection that increases with older groups.
The tendency for adherence to the Church teaching that homosexual acts are
inherently sinful is stronger among males across all ages except in the older age
group. Nearly half of the women respondents disagreed with the Church teaching.
My interview with 12 women of the age groups 18-34 and 35-54 revealed that some
of them tend to be less critical and more sympathetic towards those who are in
homosexual relations with the assumption that “they may be bom with that kind of

133
orientation.” Two of them said, ‘It is not for us to condemn these people. It is a matter
of personal choice and life.”
My interviews with the males of different age groups indicated that the male
agreement with the Church’s teaching that homosexual acts are inherently sinful was
strongly supported by their fear of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. One
of the men who belongs to the older age group said, “I don’t want anything to do with
it. It is a disaster that homosexuals are spreading the AIDS in the country. It is better
to stay away from homosexuality. The Church is right.” It may be that people adhere
to the teachings of the Church when the teaching touches the core life issues such as
health and survival.
Divorce and Annulment
The Catholic belief in marriage is claimed to be founded on the original
intention of the creator revealed in the Sacred Scriptures: “The Lord God said: ‘It is
not good for man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him. ’. . . That is why
a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them
become one body” (Gen.2:18-19,24). Again, in the New Testament, Jesus himself
reiterated, “At the beginning of creation, God made them male and female; for this
reason a man shall leave his father and mother and the two shall become as one. They
are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore, let no man separate what God has joined”
(Mark 10: 6-9). The Church declares this union indissolveable. That is to say, that a
marriage between the baptized persons which is ratified and consummated cannot be

134
dissolved by any human power or for any reason other than death (Canon Law; 1141).
The Church has traditionally considered divorce immoral, because it causes disorder
in the family especially to deserted spouses and to the children of the union.
For the reasons discussed above, it is not in the practice of the Church to grant
divorce to its members. However, the Church grants annulments, which are
ecclesiastical declarations stating that a real marriage never existed. Such annulments
are granted only after an investigation proving that no marital bond of a Sacramental
nature ever existed, due to an impediment such as lack of discretion, lack of
competency in conjugal life, coercion, and fear. Some might be inclined to think that
“annulments” are the same as divorces. The Catholic Church rejects this opinion and
believes that divorce is a mere legal arrangement pertaining to the property and
custody of the children. It cannot destroy the spirituality of the original bond of
marriage contracted between the spouses. Table 31 presents the respondents’ attitude
toward divorce and annulments.
The survey indicates that there is a tendency for the split from the teaching that
divorce is prohibited and annulments should be restricted to be strong across all age-
groups. The gender bias indicates that more women than men oppose prohibition of
divorce and restriction of annulments in the Church. This implies that women who are
the victims of divorce and seek another marriage in order to support the children and
themselves tend to be less willing to accept the Church’s prohibition and restriction
than men who are in the same situation.

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TABLE 31
Responses to the Teaching That Divorce Is Prohibited
and Annulment Should Be Restricted
Age Group
Male
Female
18-34
% agree
48.9
32.3
% disagree
51.1
67.7
35-54
% agree
27.0
17.6
% disagree
73.0
82.4
55+
% agree
24.4
23.4
% disagree
75.6
76.6
Table 31 indicates that this is one area in which the younger age group is more
in accord with the Church’s teaching than the older age group. This might suggest that
this age group has experienced the negative impact of the parents’ divorce. Those who
are 55 years and above might still have the negative vestiges of divorces on family
life. The phenomenon of divorce and remarriage, which were reported to be common
in the society in the 1970s, were not exempted from age group. Several studies
suggest that by the 1970s, divorce rates among Catholics were beginning to be like
those of the other Christians. Today, the divorce rates among Catholics are reported
to be about the same as those of all Americans. The consequences of a divorce are

136
reported to be disappointment, low self-esteem, and feelings of guilt. My one-on-one
interviews indicated that there are persons in parishes who are divorced for no fault
of their own, are deeply troubled by Church regulations regarding Sacraments,
especially reception of Communion in the Mass. The Church prohibits those divorced
persons from receiving Communion in the Mass, because divorce is seen to contradict
that union of love between Christ and His Church, which is signified by the
celebration of the Eucharist.
The Use of Contraceptives
The use of contraceptives here means the intentional application of material
obstruction to the conception of a human being. The commonly used such material
objects are pills, an intrauterine device, contraceptive foam, or a condom. The
Catholic Church believes and teaches that the conjugal act has two inherent
dimensions: 1) unitive dimension means the reciprocal self-giving of the spouses, and
2) procreative dimension
means the procreative aspect of matrimony. These two dimensions are inseparable.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994) states this,
A child does not come from outside as something added
on to the mutual love of the spouses, but springs from the
very heart of the mutual giving, as its fruit and
fulfillment. The Church, which “is on the side of life,”
teaches that each and every marriage act must remain
open to the transmission of life. (No: 2366. p.569)

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TABLE 32
Responses to the Teaching That
the Use of Contraceptives Is Sinful
Age Group
Male
Female
18-34
% agree
14.2
11.3
% disagree
85.8
88.7
35-54
% agree
13.5
10.7
% disagree
86.5
89.3
55+
% agree
28.0
27.7
% disagree
72.0
72.2
Since the use of contraceptives is found to render procreation impossible, they
are declared intrinsically evil (Humanae Vitae, 1968, No: 12). Table 32 presents the
respondents’ attitude toward the use of contraceptives. The table shows that a vast
majority of our respondents disagree with the Catholic teaching that the use of
contraceptives is sinful. In the older age group, males and females hold a similar level
of disagreement, whereas, in the age group of 18-34 and 35-54, more females are in
disagreement with the Church teaching than males. These survey findings corroborate
findings of a National survey conducted by the Roper Center in late January 1997.
When the survey respondents were asked to state their agreement or disagreement to

138
the following: “It is morally wrong to use artificial methods of birth control,” 22%
agreed and 73% disagreed.
The earlier surveys demonstrated that the use of contraceptives has been the
subject of controversy in the American Catholic Church since 1968 when the papal
encyclical “Humanae Vitae” was released from the Vatican. My conversation with
people of different ages indicated that the reasons for which they disagree from the
Church teaching varies from person to person. Three persons who were 55+ years
said, “In our time we did not have options. We practiced the rhythm method, but it
had its failures. We struggled through hard times, but we don’t want our children and
grandchildren to experience similar things. They should have the options to use or not
to use the contraceptives in order to plan their families.” Another person of the 35-54
age group said. “To me, the use of contraceptives is a personal and responsible
behavior. It is very immediate to me. So I should have the freedom to decide about
it.” The views of those of 18-34 age group were different: “Now with two-career
lifestyles, we find it difficult to have more than one or two children in our life. Our
parental obligation to our children is the top priority in our life. We want to raise
them. We want to educate them. We cannot afford to have more children. The Church
cannot impose on us what we cannot practice in life.” (Here the implication was to
the use of contraceptives). These statements tend to be at odds with the Church’s
teaching, especially on the inseparable nature of conjugal acts discussed above.

139
Abortion
The Catholic Church has consistently expressed the belief that human life
begins at conception and any direct attempt to expel an immature fetus from the
mother’s womb is the sin of murder. The earliest teaching of the Church on abortion
is found in the document called “The Didache” (c. 80 A.D.) saying to the Christians:
“You shall not procure abortion. You shall not destroy a newborn child” (Hardon,
1981, p.334). The same teaching continued to the twentieth century when, in 1974,
the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Catholic Faith declared:
Respect for human Ufe is called for from the time that the
process of generation begins. From the time that the
ovum is fertilized, a life is begun which is neither that of
the father nor of the mother; it is rather the life of a new
human being with his own growth. It would never be
made human if it were not human already. (Declaration
on Procured Abortion, ID, No: 12)
The Church bases its moral teaching on abortion from the Scriptures as well
as from the constitutive rights of individuals in a civil society. The recent official
Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994) quotes from an Old Testament to support
it position: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were bom
I consecrated you” (Jer.1,5). The Church continues to insist on the inalienable rights
of human persons saying,
These human rights depend neither on single individuals
nor on parents; nor do they represent a concession made
by society and the state; they belong to human nature and
are inherent in the person by virtue of the creative act,

140
from which the person took origin. Among such
fundamental rights one should mention in this regard
every human being’s right to life and physical integrity
from the moment of conception until death. (No:2273,
p.548
Table 33 presents the responses toward abortion, an issue that has been even
more polemical than the issue of homosexuality in the United States. It has been
divisive both within and without the Church. A Time/CNN Poll taken in September
1995 indicated that 79% of the Catholics expressed their view that they (not the
Church) should make up their minds on such issues as birth control and abortion
TABLE 33
Responses to the Teaching That
Abortion Entails the Killing of an Innocent Human Life
Age Group
Male
Female
18-34
% agree
73.3
72.5
% disagree
26.7
27.5
35-54
% agree
76.1
66.7
% disagree
23.9
33.3
55+
% agree
79.4
81.7
% disagree
20.6
18.3

141
(Gray, 1995). A recent poll conducted by the Roper Center disclosed that 59% of
Catholics disagreed with the survey statement “abortion is never justified”
My survey result indicates that a vast majority of our respondents across all
age groups agree with the Church teaching that abortion entails the killing of an
innocent human life. This contrasts sharply with responses on the issue of the use of
contraceptives. A vast majority of the same population disagreed with the Church
teaching that the use of contraceptives is sinful. One potential explanation could be
that people are trying to stop the conception of human being through contraceptives
rather than later to abort the fetus. This assumption was supported from my one-on-
one interviews with those who had to face such problems. In one case, the person
reported that the attempt to avoid conception failed and that pregnancy was certain.
The same person showed total willingness to deliver the child and raise it despite
opposition. Abortion was not a morally acceptable choice for this person.
My survey also indicates disagreement with the Church’s teaching on abortion.
One out of three females in the age group of 35-54 disagree with the statement that
abortion entails the taking of an innocent human life. From my conversations with the
persons of this age group, I inferred that four women of this age group tended to
assume that the opposition to abortion equaled denial of their rights. This assumption
seems to be the cause of variability of opinions among this group.

142
Catholic Beliefs: Traditional Nature
There is one final cluster of beliefs on which I analyzed respondents: those
concerning certain Church regulatory traditions that are known to have arisen long
after the Apostolic period but which traditionally had the same obligatory weight as
scripturally derived regulations. As I have already indicated, the Apostolic Tradition
in the Catholic Church is believed to come through the Apostles in what they received
from Jesus’ life and teaching. The word “tradition,” however, indicates various
ideological, ritual, and disciplinary customs and practices that were bom in the local
churches over time (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1994, No: 83). The traditions
(customs and practices) already adapted to different places and times, can be retained,
modified, or even abandoned in the light of Apostolic Tradition under the direction
of the Church’s authority. There are various traditions in the Church. We have two
such traditions for a brief overview: priestly celibacy and male priesthood.
Priestly Celibacy
The Catholic Church mandates celibacy for the priesthood, as a life of total
dedication to the service of God and people. The social character of celibacy in the
priesthood seems to imply that no individual becomes a priest for his selfish needs.
A priest in the Catholic Church is seen to exist in order to serve God and the people.
The Vatican II decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests states that the priests, by
their celibacy, are consecrated to Christ in a new and distinguished way in order to
devote themselves fully to the service of God and people (No: 16).

143
During the first few centuries of Catholicism, bishops and priests were selected
from among married adult males. But careful historical research on the matter
(Cochini,1990) indicates that there were customs and norms requiring continence
after episcopal or even sacerdotal ordination of the married man. The Council of
Elvira in Spain around the year 302 codified and legalized the prohibition against
married priests cohabiting with their wives (Cochini,1990). But they were simply
legalizing a practice that had been the norm long before the council. This council
marked the official divergence in the practice of Eastern and Western Christianity
(Hardon,1981). In the Eastern Church, bishops are chosen from among celibates;
married men can be ordained as deacons and priests. In the Western Church,
especially from the eleventh century, mandatory celibacy became a norm for the
bishops, priests, and deacons. However, the Second Vatican Council established the
permanent diaconate and allowed married men to become deacons. These men are not
allowed to later become priests. They are authorized to function in Catholic dioceses
and parishes by assisting the bishops and priests. Table 34 shows the responses to the
practice of priestly celibacy.
The results of a Time/CNN National poll showed that 70% of the Catholics
favored retaining priestly celibacy as opposed to 24% who said that priests should be
allowed to marry (Gray, 1995). Survey results indicate the opposite trend: the
majority seem to disagree with the teaching that priestly celibacy should be retained.
More females than males across all ages seem to favor that priests should be allowed

144
TABLE 34
Responses to the Teaching That
Priestly Celibacy Should Be Retained
Age Group
Male
Female
18-34
% agree
47.4
44.6
% disagree
52.6
55.4
35-54
% agree
42.1
25.8
% disagree
57.9
74.2
55+
% agree
36.3
35.6
% disagree
63.7
64.4
to marry. Among the females, disagreement to the Church’s teaching is the highest
among those who belong to 35-54 age group. Among the males, agreement to retain
priestly celibacy is the highest among those who belong to 18-34 age group. One
might have expected that those of the pre-Vatican generation, that is supposed to have
the vestiges of the old school, would support the Church’s position to retain the
priestly celibacy. Survey results show that such expectations were wrong. About two
out of three respondents favor allowing priests to marry. My conversation with the
persons of this age group indicated that some of them think that permission for priests
to marry would solve many problems related to the priesthood Respondents
suggested that if priests could marry, then there would be an increase in candidacy to

145
the priesthood, an increase of services by priests from the family perspective, and a
decrease of priestly scandals in the media No researched data supports the belief that
a mere “permission to marry” would solve problems related to the priesthood.
Complexity of the subject indicates a separate research topic in the Catholic Church.
Why would more women than men favor allowing priests to get married? No
one in my interviews responded to this question directly. Three women showed some
animosity toward polarization; for example, “a celibate priest is not one of us.” They
tended to speculate that a married priest with his spouse would be better able to
understand their day-to-day problems. One of the women with a sense of humor said,
“celibate priests are a ‘good pool’ to draw fine persons for marriage.”
The younger generation as opposed to the older age groups favors retaining the
priestly celibacy. The underlying reasons for favoring priestly celibacy was not
clearly stated in my interviews. However, I inferred from their attitudes towards this
traditional practice of the Church that they admire it and they want to preserve it. I
assume that several of this younger age group struggle between remaining chaste and
succumbing to the cultural forces. In their struggle, celibate priests might appear as
models in their life.
Male Priesthood
In the Catholic Church, only men are admitted to priesthood, a rule believed
to have its roots in the very practice of Jesus and his Apostles from the beginning of

146
Christianity. Pope John Paul n, in one of his Apostolic letters, “Ordinario
Sacerdotalis” (1994), states that,
the Church has always acknowledged as a perennial
norm her Lord’s way of acting in choosing the 12 men
whom he made the foundation of his Church. . . . The
Apostles did the same when they chose fellow workers
who would succeed them in their ministry. (No:2)
The Pope supported his teaching also from the fact that Christ did not entrust
his mission to women, including His own mother.
The fact that she received neither the mission proper to
the apostles nor the ministerial priesthood clearly shows
that the nonadmission of women to priestly ordination
cannot mean that women are of lesser dignity nor can it
be construed as discrimination against them. (No:3)
Besides the above traditional practice, the Church insists on the ideological
significance of male priesthood. According to the teaching of the Church, Christ
himself is identified in the Sacramental service of the priest. It is known in the
Catholic Church by the Latin phrase “in persona Christi.’’Literally translated, it means
that the priest acts in the person of Christ; the priest represents Him physically as well
as spiritually when he performs the sacramental services.
For the above reasons, the Pope stated in his Apostolic letter that the “Church
has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and this judgment
is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful”(No:4). Table 35 presents the
responses to the traditional practice of male priesthood.

147
TABLE 35
Responses to the Teaching That
Only Males May Be Ordained as Priests
Age Group
Male
Female
18-34
% agree
45.3
39.3
% disagree
54.7
60.7
35-54
% agree
47.2
35.5
% disagree
52.8
64.5
55+
% agree
51.5
52.7
% disagree
48.5
47.3
National surveys indicate a majority support for the ordination of women to
the priesthood. A survey conducted in 1995 showed that 60% of the American
Catholics favored women’s ordination (Gray, 1995). Two years later, the response of
the people remained about the same: when asked to express their opinions to the
statement that “women cannot be ordained into the priesthood,” 58% disagreed and
34% agreed (Lawler, 1997).
In my survey, I find that there is a tendency for adherence to the traditional
practice of male priesthood to be stronger in the older age groups. More females than
males have expressed their disagreement to the teaching that only males may be

148
ordained as priests. However, the variation in “disagreement” among males and
females is not large enough to be considered very significant.
Nearly half of the survey population in the age group of 55+ agree that only
males may be ordained as priests. Their attachment to the traditional practice of the
Church, and a kind of mystical admiration for male priesthood were expressed as
reasons for their agreement in our conversations. Among the females, those who
disagree with the teaching of the Church seem to view it from the point of women’s
right over priestly ordination. It seems to be a reflection of the cultural environment,
where women seek equal opportunity and justice in all choices. About five women
who belonged to 35-54 age group said, “Women are as capable as men. We expect
the Church more than any other governmental organizations to recognize it. It does
not make sense to us when the Church says that women cannot be ordained into the
priesthood.” The controversy over the issue of ordination of women to the priesthood
is continuing.
I now summarize the results found in this chapter. I have discussed
respondents’ Catholicism in terms of three subsystems which anthropologists have
found to be components of all religious system: ideological or theological beliefs,
ritual practices, and religious specialists. In this chapter, I have analyzed the Catholic
beliefs on the core, ethical, and traditional matters. My findings are in most areas
consonant with the findings of studies done on national samples. Consonance with
Church teaching seems to be highest in purely theological matters that have little

149
direct relevance for the daily life or moral decisions of the believer: belief in the
Virgin Birth, the Real Presence in the Eucharist, and others. My sample indicates high
adherence to official Church teaching on such matters. But when it comes to ethical
or regulatory teachings which conflict with prevailing mainstream cultural norms,
large percentages of our respondents tend to take their moral cues and derive their
moral principles from the mainstream culture surrounding them. There is deviation
on the part of the respondents from the Church teaching on some matters, such as
contraception, premarital sex, annulment and remarriage, priestly celibacy, and
ordination of women.
My purpose is to examine the influence of the lay specialists on respondents’
beliefs because of the interactions that take place among them. I turn to the second
major subsystem found in all religious systems, that of ritual practices and
ceremomes.

CHAPTER 5
THE CATHOLIC PRACTICES
In Chapter 3 I discussed the major life problems reported by the survey
population. I used two categories of frequency: 1) occurrence and 2) engagement in
personal prayer. Problems related to intra and interpersonal relationships and health
seem to be the real concern of the population. In this chapter, I discuss whether
religious practices and beliefs have any link to their life problems. In my interviews,
I noted that people attribute causal agents for each and everything that happens in
their day-to-day life. These causal agents include not only the self, fellow humans,
and good or bad luck, but also their religious beliefs and practices. For example, those
who believe in God’s love are inclined to explain everything in benevolent ways: “It
is God’s Will.” On the contrary, those who view God as an angry person are inclined
to interpret every event as punishment for infractions:”! did not go for Mass for the
past two months.” Their religious practices, for the most part, are associated with
their religious beliefs. Proponents of attribution theories such as Kelley (1971) and
Spilka, Shaver, & Kirkpatrick (1985) suggested that people make attributions in order
to make sense of their experiences and to understand the causes of problems they
encounter in life. Newman and Pargament (1990), stated that
150

151
The religious beliefs and aspirations of the individual
would seem to play a potentially key role in choosing the
solution to a problem. For example, the teachings of
Christ may serve as a model for decision-making in the
face of critical life decisions, (p.391)
Catholic Ritual Practices; A Brief Overview
The survey questionnaire has a list of Catholic practices and beliefs. In this
chapter, I focus on the practices-the rituals in which Catholics engage. In discussing
Catholicism, a distinction must be made between three major classes of rituals: 1) the
Mass, 2) the Sacraments, and 3) sacramentáis and other devotions. I discuss each of
these briefly.
The Mass is the most important and most visible act of public worship of the
Church. This ritual is recognized as the center of all Catholic religious life. Originally
it was known as the Eucharist, a Greek word which means to give thanks. The word
“Mass” itself seems to have derived from the two dismissals of the ritual: first, the
ritual of dismissal of catechumens (adults preparing themselves for conversion) after
the Scripture readings and sermon and, second, the dismissal of the faithful after the
Eucharistic service. These rituals came to be known as the “ceremony of dismissals.”
Before Vatican H, when the Mass was still celebrated in Latin, the priest concluded
the Mass with the Latin words: “Ite missa est.” The literal translation of this is “Go,
the dismissal is made.” However, the English translation of the Mass says, “The Mass
is ended, let us go ... in the Peace of Christ.” What was commonly known as the

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ritual of dismissals in the early church is known now popularly as the Mass. It is also
known by several other names such as “The Lord’s Supper,” “The Breaking of
Bread,” “The Holy Sacrifice,” and “The Holy and Divine Liturgy.” All these names
signify the central meaning that is universally accepted in the Catholic Church, that
the mystery of salvation accomplished by Jesus Christ is ritually celebrated in the
Mass, and the faithful are sent forth to give witness to God’s love and fulfill God’s
will in their lives.
In terms of its internal structure, the Mass is divided into four major sections:
a) the Gathering, b) the Liturgy of the Word, c) the Liturgy of the Eucharist, and d)
the Dismissal. Each section contains a few elements. The “gathering” rite includes
the initial greeting by the priest, penitential rite, the Gloria, and the opening prayer.
The liturgy of the Word involves two or three readings from the Bible, sermon, creed,
and general intercessions. The liturgy of the Eucharist comprises the preparation of
the gifts, the Eucharistic prayer, and the Communion. The dismissal, which is also
known as “commissioning,” incorporates a concluding prayer, a blessing, and
dismissal of the assembly. Though the Mass is structured in four sections with several
elements, they all constitute one single act of worship. The Mass, the central ritual of
Catholicism, requires the presence of a priest. The Catechism of the Catholic Church
(1994) says, “Only validly ordained priests can preside at the Eucharist and
consecrate the bread and wine so that they become the Body and Blood of the Lord”
(p. 355). Since Vatican II, lay involvement in the Mass has increased. There is more

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interaction between priest and public at the Mass. Laity are now called on to do some
of the scripture readings and to distribute Communion (tasks formerly reserved to the
priest). Nonetheless, the central act of the Eucharistic prayer-the consecration and
transformation of the bread and wine--can still be done only by a priest.
Priests celebrate the Mass every day of the week. Sunday Mass is obligatory
for all Catholics:
Sunday is the day on which the paschal mystery is
celebrated in light of the apostolic tradition and is to be
observed as the foremost holy day of obligation in the
universal Church. (Canon Law, 1246:1)
There are also several other days such as Christmas, Epiphany, the Ascension, the
Immaculate Conception, and the Feast of All Saints in which the obligation of
attending Mass is binding.
Mass is the central ritual of the Church; there are seven other Catholic rituals
referred to as the Sacraments. The Mass is, technically speaking, not a Sacrament. It
contains a Sacrament—the receiving of the Eucharist or Communion—but has
traditionally been called the Eucharistic Sacrifice rather than Sacrament. The seven
Sacraments are Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist (Communion), Confession,
Anointing of the Sick, Marriage, and Holy Orders. I discuss Confession and
Communion later; at this point I will describe the other five Sacraments.
Baptism, known as the Sacrament of regeneration, brings a spiritual rebirth to
the baptized. It is rooted in the belief that Jesus died for the sins of the world, that He

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was buried, and that He was raised (1 Corinth. 15, 3-4). The ritual of Baptism is the
spiritual reenactment of the three categories: separation, transition, and incorporation
(Van Gennep, 1964). The baptized becomes a member of God’s people, worthy of
receiving the other Sacraments in the Catholic Church. The specialist of Baptism is
normally an ordained priest or deacon, but in case of an emergency, the Church
allows anyone to baptize.
Confirmation as a Sacrament is believed to deepen a person’s divine affiliation
with God through the power of the Holy Spirit. Such an affiliation invites the
confirmed to bear witness to his or her faith through words and deeds. The ordinary
specialist who performs the ritual of Confirmation is the bishop. However, if a
Christian is in danger of death, any priest is allowed to perform the ritual. A priest can
also confirm the catechumens who are prepared through RCIA and given the
Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Communion during the Easter Vigil.
Anointing of the Sick is administered to those who may be sick or dying.
Traditionally this Sacrament is known as “The Last Rite,” because it was given only
to those at the point of death. Now it is administered to those for whom danger of
death is not necessarily imminent, to give the sick person strength and spiritual health,
including the remission of sins. Hence, the ordinary specialists who can perform the
ritual of anointing the sick are the bishop and the priest who are endowed with the
power to forgive sins.

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Marriage is considered a Sacrament in which the couple, of their own free will,
give themselves to each other mutually and definitively after the example of Christ
who gave up his life for the Church. Marriage in the Catholic Church is celebrated as
a sacred contract, which is binding because God has established marriage as the
natural means of procreating and upbringing children (Canon Law: 1055:1). The
essence of the sacred contract consists in the mutual consent of the partners.
Therefore, unlike the other Sacraments, this Sacrament is conferred by the contracting
partners on one another. A priest or a deacon acts as an official minister of the Church
to assist the partners in the ritual of marriage.
Holy Orders is the Sacrament of apostolic ministry. Those who receive this
Sacrament are commissioned to continue the work of Jesus on earth with the powers
granted through the rituals. The essential elements of the ritual consist of the placing
on hands and the prayer of consecration. There are three levels of clergy who have
received Holy Orders: episcopate (bishop), presbyterate (priest), and diaconate
(deacon). The specialist of this Sacrament is a validly consecrated bishop.
Three of the seven Sacraments are received only once in the life of the
Catholic: Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders. Two Sacraments, in principle, are
intended to be frequented by Catholics: Communion and Confession. The frequency
of access to these two Sacraments, in addition to frequency of attendance at Mass, are
useful operational barometers of the intensity of the religious life of a Catholic. I have

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used them thus in the survey, as will be seen below. I now discuss the structure and
logic of these two Sacraments.
Confession is a ritual in which individual Catholics tell a priest the sins which
they have committed since their last Confession. Traditionally, Confessions used to
be heard anonymously in the confessionals. Priests could not see the penitent. Now
people have the option either to use traditional confessionals or to sit face-to-face
with the priest and confess. One might think that the younger generation would
choose the “face-to-face” and the older generation the traditional confessionals. But,
one-on-one interviews show that choosing the mode of Confession is not a question
of generational difference. Several older people preferred to go and sit face-to-face,
confess their guilt, and seek forgiveness. Several young people, especially students,
seem to prefer the confessional that protects their anonymity. It is the Catholic
teaching that the Sacrament of Confession brings God’s forgiveness upon the
individual for his or her sins. The term “Confession” is said to imply an essential
element of this Sacrament, namely the disclosure of sins to God through a priest.
Since Vatican n, Confession is known by several other names: a) the Sacrament of
Conversion, that seems to convey the presence of Jesus’ call to conversion and a
return to God, b) the Sacrament of Penance, that seems to express penitent’s personal
role in the process of conversion, penance, and satisfaction, c) the Sacrament of
Forgiveness, that seems to imply the pardon and peace given to the penitent by the
priest’s absolution, and d) the Sacrament of Reconciliation, that signifies the

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encounter between God and the penitent through the ritual action of this Sacrament.
The usual ritual acts of this Sacrament are the priest greets the penitent, the priest
reads a passage of scripture, the penitent confesses his or her sins, the priest gives
advice and penance, the penitent expresses his or her sorrow, and the priest gives
absolution. This ritual is traditionally known as individual Confession. There also two
other forms of Confession in the practice of the Catholic Church, used only on special
occasions: 1) a common celebration of penance followed by individual Confession
and absolution and 2) a common celebration of penance followed by common
absolution. The former is used frequently in the parishes in special seasons such as
Advent and Lent, while the latter requires permission from the diocesan bishop. The
bishop considers whether there is grave necessity for common absolution (Canon
Law: 961). Since Vatican n, a new emphasis is placed on this communal mode of
Confession. In the words of Vatican n,
those who approach the sacrament of penance obtain
pardon from God’s mercy for all the offense committed
against him, and are, at the same time, reconciled with
the Church which they have wounded by their sins and
which by charity, by example, and by prayer labors for
their conversion. (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church,
No: 11,2)
Under this communal dimension, sin is considered as an offense not only against God
but also against fellow human beings. The Sacrament of Confession brings
reconciliation with God and the Church. The faithful are encouraged to go to
Confession as many times as needed even when grave sins are not in question.

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Frequent Confessions are recommended as a source of spiritual strength to fight
against frailty and weakness of human nature. However, the Church requires an
annual Confession in the “Easter duty” (Canon Law, 920).
Communion in the Catholic Church is a “sacred banquet” of the Mass.
The Mass is at the same time, and inseparably, the
sacrificial memorial in which the sacrifice of the cross is
perpetuated and the sacred banquet of Communion with
the Lord’s body and blood. But the celebration of the
Eucharistic sacrifice is wholly directed toward the
intimate union of the faithful with Christ through
Communion. To receive Communion is to receive Christ
himself who has offered himself for us. (Catechism of
the Catholic Church, 1994, No: 1382)
Receiving Communion in the Mass is recommended as a more perfect form of
participation in the Mass. It is the traditional belief that when the faithful receive
Communion, they share in the benefits of the sacrifice, renew the New Covenant that
God had made in Christ, and foreshadow or anticipate in faith and hope the eternal
banquet (Heaven) in the life to come. The Catechism of the Catholic Church,
published in 1994, brought out the union that is signified among the faithful by the
reception of Communion. “Those who receive the Eucharist are united more closely
to Christ. Through it Christ unites them to all the faithful in one body—the Church”
(No: 1396). The Church believes that the unity that is signified already by Baptism
among the faithful is further strengthened by Communion.
In practice, the faithful are expected to have good dispositions in order to
receive Communion. “Good disposition” is traditionally meant to be the absence of

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grave sin. Anyone who is conscious of grave sin could not receive Communion
without first having received forgiveness in the Sacrament of Confession. However,
if a person with grave sin had no opportunity to receive forgiveness because there was
no priest, that person could receive Communion with an act of perfect contrition for
sin and a resolution to go to Confession as soon as possible (Canon Law: 916). The
Catholic Church encourages the faithful to receive Communion as often as daily. The
faithful have “Easter Duty,” the obligation to go to Confession and receive
Communion once a year, preferably during the Easter season. The preceding three
rituals—the Mass, Confession, and Communion—are the distinguishing features of
Catholic practice. Catholics also have traditional practices which are known as
“sacramentáis.” I next discuss what distinguishes sacramentáis from the Sacraments.
Sacramentáis can be defined as religious actions or objects used in the Church
for the promotion of devotion or spiritual nature among the faithful. Unlike the
Sacraments which are believed to be instituted by Christ, sacramentáis are instituted
by the Church in order to assist the faithful to receive the fruit of the Sacraments and
to sanctify different circumstances of life (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No:
1677). For example, the practices of Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, or
Stations of the Cross, or Rosary are expected to increase people’s participation in the
Sacrament of the Eucharist. Pilgrimages and processions are expected to increase
appreciation for the Sacrament of Penance. However, the Catholic Church insists that
there is one vital difference between the Sacraments and the sacramentáis. The

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Sacraments confer grace on the one who receives by virtue of their administration.
This is known in the Catholic Church by the Latin phrase “Ex Opere Operan to.” The
Sacraments have an infallible assurance of grace for the participants from God,
whereas sacramentáis for their efficacy of grace depend on the sanctity or the pious
dispositions of the participants. This is known in Latin as “ex Opere Operantis.” For
a good many Catholics, piety is associated with sacramentáis. I discuss briefly
sacramentáis found in the survey parishes.
Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament is an ancient practice in the Catholic
Church. The ritual of this practice was first recorded at Hildesheim, Germany, in the
fifteenth century (Deedy, 1990). Its roots lie in the belief of the faithful in the Real
Presence of Jesus in the consecrated host. According to this belief, the Real Presence
of Jesus in the consecrated host is not only when the faithful receive Communion in
the Mass, but also in the reservation of the consecrated host in the tabernacle or on
the altar for public adoration. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994) says,
The Catholic Church has always offered and still offers
to the Sacrament of the Eucharist the cult of adoration,
not only during Mass, but also outside of it, reserving the
consecrated hosts with the utmost care, exposing them to
the solemn veneration of the faithful, and carrying them
in procession. (No: 1378)
Rosary is a religious practice that goes back at least 400 years in the Catholic
Church. A legend says that Saint Dominic (1170-1221) received the Rosary from
Mary. Development of the devotion lasted possibly from 1100 to 1569, when Pope

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Pius V is said to have approved the practice (Deedy, 1990). Rosary consists in
repeating the Hail Mary 150 times (counted by beads), while meditating on the 15
mysteries (events) from the Gospels. Each mystery known as a “decade” (10 beads)
is preceded by the Lord’s prayer (Our Father) and concludes with “Glory be to the
Father. . . The religious practice of Rosary has declined since the 1960s in the
United States. Some attribute the cause to the teachings of Vatican n, saying that the
Council relegated Mary to the concluding chapter on the dogmatic constitution of the
Church and thus reduced the importance of Marian devotions such as Rosary.
Novena is one of the popular Catholic practices. The term “Novena” comes
from the Latin word “Novem,” which means a period of nine that could be nine days
or weeks or months in prayer. In the Middle Ages, kings and princes are reported to
have provided in their wills for a Novena of Masses after their deaths. In Spain and
France, Novenas originated in connection with the celebration of Christmas. People
observed nine days of prayer before Christmas, representing the nine months that
Jesus was in Mary’s womb (Deedy, 1990). Novena practice can be either private or
public. The general purpose of novenas is to obtain favors such as good health,
success from God directly, or through the intercession of a saint. For example, when
I started to write this dissertation, a friend of mine recommended that I make a novena
to St. Joseph of Cupertino, the patron saint of those writing their dissertations.
Stations of the Cross is a Catholic practice that grew out of Catholic pilgrim¬
ages. Pilgrimages were considered as a way to purify the pilgrims, who could obtain

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blessings from God The Holy Land was one of the primary places for pilgrimages
because people wanted to walk in the footsteps of Christ. When circumstances made
it difficult to go to the Holy Land, the Stations of the Cross came into use as a
substitute, representing the events along the road to Calvary in the Holy Land The
number of Stations evolved as the practice of the Stations continued through the
centuries. It is reported that, in the seventeenth century, Clement XII codified the
devotion as it is known and practiced today (Deedy, 1990). Most Catholic churches
have a series of fourteen Stations on the walls that depict the events from the death
sentence of Jesus to His burial. Some churches today include a final scene, the
Resurrection.
Fasting and Abstinence from meat is one of three recommended forms of
penance in the Catholic Church; the other two are prayer and charity. Fasting means
entire abstinence from food for the whole or part of the fasting day. The New
Testament writings indicate that Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights in the
desert and often recommended to His followers why and how they should fast
(Mathew 6:16-18). The early church is said to have observed fasts on Wednesdays
and Fridays. In the West, the Wednesday fast was shifted to Saturday around the
fourth century (Deedy, 1990). The evolutionary course of fasting in the Catholic
Church shows that as time passed, the emphasis on fasting became less legalistic and
demanding. Perhaps no other changes of the Vatican II had such an effect on the
psyche of Catholics as the change of rules regarding fast and abstinence. The whole

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emphasis now seems to be on voluntary fasting and on charitable works such as
caring for the poor and the lonely. In the United States, the obligation to fast and to
abstain from meat holds for Ash Wednesday (that marks the beginning of the season
of Lent), and Good Friday (that marks the death of Jesus on the cross). Abstaining
from meat holds on the Fridays of Lent.
The fast before Communion is still in practice. However, it has gone through
several changes. A complete fast from food and drink, including water, from midnight
to the time of the reception of Communion was mandatory by the Middle Ages. This
obligation was reduced in 1953 to complete abstinence from solid food The
communicants were allowed to drink water at any time and liquids (except alcohol)
up to one hour before Communion. In 1964, this was modified to complete abstinence
from everything except water and medicine for only the last hour before Communion
(Hardon,1981).
Grace at meals is one of the traditional practices of Christianity. Invoked at the
table before meals, grace is a request for God’s blessings to come upon the food and
the people who share the food The blessing usually includes the signing of the Cross
and a vocal prayer.
Bible reading and other spiritual reading have become increasingly important
to Catholics since Vatican II. Though it is not yet common among Catholics to
possess their own individual copies of the Bible, it is a tradition for a Catholic family
to possess a family Bible. In order to encourage this “Bible spirituality,” parishes are

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offering Bible classes to their parishioners. Besides the Bible, the Church
recommends the reading of the lives of heroic people (saints) for spiritual
nourishment.
Liturgy of the Hours, the daily recitation of the official prayer of the Church,
formally known as the “Divine Office,” is considered as a sacred duty of those who
have entered into religious life. However, after Vatican II, the Church recommended
the Liturgy of the Hours to all the faithful. The Catechism of the Catholic Church
(1994) states that, “The Liturgy of the Hours is intended to become the prayer of the
whole People of God.... His members participate according to their own place in the
Church” (p.304). The structure of the Liturgy of the Homs consists of morning and
evening prayer, Matins--a prayer to be said at any time of the day, the Office of
Readings taken from the Scriptures and writings of the Church Fathers, Terce, Sext
and None—any one of them to be used at an appropriate time of the day—usually
midmoming, noon or mid-afternoon, and compline, which is the last prayer of the
day. It is not a common practice yet among the laity.
Spiritual retreat is a concentrated period of time spent in prayer and reflection.
The duration of time varies: the conventional retreats last from three to thirty days in
retreat centers or monasteries; at the parish level, retreats may be one day or even less
set aside for spiritual purposes. There are directed retreat and non-directed retreats.
The directed retreat is conducted under the supervision and guidance of a leader such

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as a priest, a religious person, or a qualified lay person. Non-directed retreats consist
of individuals spending periods in solitude and prayer.
Charismatic prayer meetings are part of a devotional movement within the
Catholic Church that fosters direct experience of God through the Holy Spirit.
Charismatic prayer movement in the United States has been popular from the early
1970s. The structure of typical charismatic prayer meetings includes spontaneous
vocal prayers, praying in tongues, singing, constant reference to the Bible, prophecies,
and personal testimonies. Organizing the meetings is mostly in the hands of the laity.
The participation in the meetings is merely voluntary. Even non-parishioners who
wish to become a member of the charismatic group are welcomed into the group.
Centering prayer is based on the premise that God speaks to human beings not
only through the divinely inspired Scriptures, but also through the whole creation and
especially in the depths of one’s own being. The technique of centering prayer is
aimed at enabling the person to listen to God and respond in quietness. Centering
prayer lasts anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour. There is no uniform structure to
this practice. However, the essential elements are relaxation and quietness in deep
meditation on the love of God as experienced by the individual.
Personal reflection of God is a long tradition in the Catholic Church. Some call
this individual reflection an examination of conscience. The purpose of individual
reflection is to experience the presence of God in one’s life and see where one has
responded to God’s Spirit and where one has failed. There is no formal structure to

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this practice. However, this practice has been fused into other structures of religious
practices such as the Mass (personal refection is called for in the beginning of the
Mass, and after each reading from the Scripture) and the penance service (personal
reflection over one’s state of grace).
Structure of the Survey Questions
Except for the religious practices related to the seven Sacraments that are
common to the Universal Church, religious practices related to devotions differ from
parish to parish. In my preliminary interviews with parishioners, I asked them to state
all the religious practices they have in their parishes. Under religious practices, I
listed 17 items that belong to communal, familial, and personal dimensions. The
objective was to measure individual participation in these practices by frequency
questions such as “once a year,” “several times a year,” “once a month,” “several
times a month,” “once a week,” “several times a week,” “daily,” and “did not do it in
the last 12 months.” For analytic purposes, I collapsed and dichotomized the
responses according to the frequency with which the rituals were reported. For
example, in analyzing Mass attendance, which is frequent in the survey population,
I distinguished those who went at least once a week from those who went less
frequently. In the matter of Confession, however, which has become much less
frequent, to achieve a reasonable spread between the two categories, I distinguished
between those who went at least once a year and those who went less frequently. The
use of these breakdowns will become clearer in the analysis.

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Religious Practices: Analysis
The list of Catholic practices encompasses a range of items: Mass,
Communion, Confession, Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, Rosary, Stations of
the Cross, Novena, fasting, abstaining from meat, Grace at meals, private Bible
reading, other spiritual reading, Liturgy of the Hours, spiritual retreat, charismatic
prayer meetings, centering prayer, and personal reflection of God. Some of these
practices are communal, others are familial and personal in nature. Some of these
items would fall under more than one cluster; I indicate these in Table 36 with a
check (X) in their appropriate categories.
For the purpose of analysis, I grouped these practices under three categories:
1) the core Catholic practices, 2) the Catholic Sacramental practices, which are
generally performed only by Catholics, and 3) the general Christian practices, which
are done by Protestants as well as Catholics. The analysis of the core Catholic
practices consists of Mass, Communion, and Confession. Under Catholic Sacramental
practices, I analyzed the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, Rosary, Stations of
the Cross, Novena, fast and abstinence, Liturgy of the Hours, and spiritual retreat.
The analysis of the general Christian practices include Grace at meals, private Bible
reading, other spiritual reading, charismatic prayer meetings, centering prayer, and
personal reflection of God.

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TABLE 36
Distribution of Religious Practices in Three Categories
Communal
Familial
Personal
Mass
X
Communion
X
X
Confession
X
Benediction of the Blessed Sac.
X
Rosary
X
X
X
Stations of the Cross
X
X
Novena
X
X
X
Fasting
X
Abstinence from meat
X
Grace at meals
X
X
Private Bible reading
X
Other spiritual reading
X
X
Liturgy of the Hours
X
X
Spiritual retreat
X
X
Charismatic prayer meetings
X
X
Centering prayer
X
X
Personal reflection of God
X
Core Catholic Practices
The majority of Catholics used to attend Mass every Sunday and other days
of obligation, but Mass attendance among American Catholics has declined since
1958. Mass attendance was 74% in 1958; in 1985, however, only 53% attended Mass.
In comparison, church attendance among Protestants fell less than 10%, from 44% to
39% in 1985 (Gallup & Castelli, 1987). A recent poll conducted by the Roper Center

169
for Public Opinion Research indicates that the weekly Mass attendance, at present,
among Catholics is 47% (Lawler, 1997).
Despite the large sample of nearly 1,300 Catholics, the data base does not
permit precise comparison between respondents and these national statistics for
Catholics. National surveys are generally done by random sampling and telephone
interviews. My survey was administered only to Catholics who had attended Mass on
one weekend in each of the four parishes. Therefore, I expected the survey to show
a much higher rate of Mass attendance among this group than among the Catholic
population at large. Table 37 presents the reported frequency of Mass attendance,
Communion, and Confession among respondents by age groups.
Table 37 indicates that the high reported percentage of weekly Mass attendance is
substantially higher than the 47% reported nationally. This is probably a reflection
TABLE 37
Distribution of Mass, Communion, and Confession,
by Age Group
Age Group
Weekly Mass
Weekly Communion
Yearly Confession
18-34
75.6%
69.6%
50.6%
35-54
84.1%
77.1%
48.4%
55+
91.8%
87.2%
59.7%
All ages combined
83.9%
78.0%
52.4%
Separate chi-squares for all three rituals indicate P<0.001

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of the nature of the sample. But internal breakdowns of the data by age group permits
detection of the same trends of declining attendance that are found nationally. In the
survey population, the lowest Mass attendance is among those who are 34 and under.
When I compared this finding with the national survey, my results looked high.
According to Hegy (1993), Mass attendance for this age group reached its lowest
point in the 1990s at 13.2%.
Is the discrepancy between Mass attendance by those under 35 in the sample
population and the national survey purely a function of the difference in sampling
procedures? Perhaps not. A large percentage of 18-34 year olds are college students.
Churches offer the students in this community more opportunities for religious
involvement than is true for the national population at large. Each religious
denomination (Christian, Jewish, Hindu, and Moslem) has a student center that offers
services to the students. The kind of services they offer, such as spirituality, education
and entertainment, seem to attract this age group to religious attendance. The pastor
of St. Benedict Catholic Church and Student Center indicated that during a given
weekend, about seven thousand students attend Sunday Masses in his parish. There
are 17 Masses celebrated in the community on every weekend, which gives ample
opportunity for students and others to attend Mass. It is quite possible that the higher
level of Mass attendance, which I found among the 18-3 5s in the sample, could reflect
higher overall attendance than is true nationally.

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Our Table 37 indicates that there is a statistically significant increase in weekly
Mass attendance by age group. There are two quite different interpretations of this.
It could simply be a “life-cycle” phenomenon: as people get older, their religious
observance increases. Under this life cycle model, as people assume responsibilities
such as raising children and family, they tend to incorporate spirituality into their
lives. Or in this same life-cycle framework, seeking spirituality could be part of the
religious quest of Baby Boomers in their search for meaning and purpose in life that
they had not found through focusing on career, materialism, and other exploits
(Bama, 1996). People absent themselves from church attendance when they are in
adolescence and return later as they mature.
A different interpretation points to an unidirectional trend toward overall
reduced church attendance. In support of the life-cycle model, my own one-on-one
interviewing with a group of Catholics indicated that older people will frequently
admit that, when they were younger, they were lax in their observance. On the other
hand, the diachronic data available from national statistics show a decline among all
age groups over time in Mass attendance. The sample data on Mass attendance, then,
are best analyzed as the product of the combined operation of life-cycle patterns and
overall diachronic declines in church attendance.
Almost identical age-specific trends can be seen in the data on frequency of
reception of Holy Communion, also presented in Table 37. Like the Mass attendance,
reception of Communion increases with age. An increase from 77% among those of

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the 35-54 age group to 87% among those of the 55 and older group might suggest that
as people grow older, they are inclined to grow in faith to see Communion as the
pledge of eternal life. From this perspective, their faith motivates them to receive
Communion more often. My observation among the sick in the hospital was that the
majority of those who requested Confession and Communion belonged to the older
age group. The younger generation is satisfied with a blessing and, in some cases,
with some pastoral counseling
A brief comment on the closeness between the percentages for weekly Mass
and weekly Communion is necessary. In the pre-Vatican II Church, weekly Mass
attendance seemed high in comparison to weekly Communion. I have no data on the
matter, but my interviews with older people suggest that as many as half of those
attending Mass refrained from Communion for various reasons. One reason was the
strict requirement for the Eucharistic fast: one could not receive Communion if one
had eaten food or had drunk any liquid (including water) after the preceding midnight.
However, the major traditional barrier to frequent Communion seemed to be a sense
of individual sins. The midnight fast has been replaced by a less strict Eucharistic
fast: one needs to fast only one hour before receiving Communion. And the decline
in yearly Confession, as I will discuss later, indicates the trend in disbelief in personal
sinfulness.
In my interviews, I heard about a current practice that makes some people
somewhat embarrassed not to receive Communion. It was the usual Catholic practice

173
to receive Communion at whatever point of the Communion time one chose to go.
There was anonymity. Now in most parishes, ushers begin at the front of the church
and make people come out row by row for Communion. Great social pressure seems
to be put on some to receive Communion simply as a vehicle for avoiding comments
from the people seated behind.
Whereas the data on Communion practices show an increase in frequency of
reception (when one is participating in the Mass), the national data and the survey
data from this study on the practice of Confession show just the opposite trend.
National studies indicate that the practice of Confession is declining in the United
States. The Roper survey (1997) found that only 10% go to Confession at least once
a month and 33% go less than once a year. The survey also indicated that about 10%
said that they have never been to Confession.
As can be seen above in Table 37, a stronger pattern of decline in the use of
Confession can be seen among the respondents. Nearly half of our respondents
reported going to Confession less than once a year, as opposed to the 33% national
figures. Even among these more devout subsets of Catholics, use of Confession seems
substantially lower than the national average.
The conventional wisdom about the greater laxity of younger people in the
practice of Confession seems to be extended to the middle age group. About 52% of
the middle aged attend Confession less than once a year. Those who are 55 and above

174
are more likely to fulfill their Easter duty (at least once a year) than the other two age
groups.
This low practice of Confession cannot be attributed to the unavailability of
the Sacrament in our survey population. While most of the people go for Confession
less often than it is recommended by the Church (at least once a year), the Sacrament
of Confession is available in all four sample parishes. Three out of four parishes have
Confessions on Saturday evenings, and one parish has it from Monday to Friday in
the evenings. All four parishes have common celebration of penance several times
during the seasons of Advent and Lent. Confessions are also available by personal
appointment with the priests of their parishes.
With Confession readily available in the parishes, the question is why do
people go so rarely. The decline in the frequency of Confession is attributed to several
causes. In my preliminary interviews, I heard one compelling reason. Several people
said that they experience reconciliation with God during Mass itself, bypassing the
confessional. The Mass has many expressions of forgiveness for those who participate
in it. For example, in the beginning of the Mass, there is a penitential rite that calls
for a pause to recall to mind one’s sins and ask for God’s forgiveness. At the end of
the pause and prayers, the priest says “May Almighty God have mercy on us and
forgive us our sins and lead us into everlasting life.” The Lord’s Prayer is prayed by
all participants in the Mass. This prayer asks God to “forgive us our trespasses as we
forgive those who trespass against us.” These and other references to the forgiveness

175
of sins in the Mass satisfy some Catholics who find reconciliation outside the
Sacrament of Confession. Some people said that they experience God’s reconciliation
in other devotional practices such as personal prayer and reading the Bible. However,
the Church teaches that the Sacrament of Confession requires the intervention of a
priest if the person confessing is to receive God’s forgiveness for personal sins.
The gender bias in Mass attendance was not remarkable. A more or less equal
percentage (84%) of males and females reported Mass attendance at least once a
week. Usually women report more church attendance than men, which, is attributed
to the roles of women in family formation: marriage and child-raising. Women are
said to be more involved in the formation of their children’s religious orientation from
childhood However, does the equal reporting of Mass attendance by female and male
in the survey population suggest that males are equally as interested as females in
family formation? My interviews with people showed that males are equally as
interested as females in family formation. Several men indicated that they would go
to Mass every Sunday in order to set a good example for their young children.
The practice of Communion by gender was not statistically significant (P>.01).
The difference between the gender in this practice was less than 5%. Among the
females, 80% receive Communion at least once a week, whereas among the males,
it is 75.29%. The analysis indicates that not all males and females who come for the
Mass at least once a week receive Communion. The difference however, is greater
among males than females. This is to say, of the 83.66% males who attend the Mass,

176
75.29% indicated receiving Communion, whereas of the 84.31% females who attend
the Mass, 80% reported receiving Communion. The data in this study show that the
females were more inclined to receive Communion than the males.
Catholic Sacramental Practices
Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament: In the sample parishes, two parishes
have the First Friday devotion in which the consecrated host is exposed to the faithful
on the altar for adoration and prayers. The service concludes with a Benediction
(blessing). One parish has the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament on Tuesdays
after the Novena of the Miraculous Medal. Given the available opportunities for this
religious practice in the community, those 55 and above are more likely to take
advantage of the opportunity than the younger age groups. Table 38 presents the
frequency of the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament by age group.
TABLE 38
Frequency of the Religious Practice of Benediction
Age Group
Less than 1 year
At least 1 year
Total
18-34
245
102
347
(%)
70.61
29.39
35-54
308
180
488
(%)
63.11
36.89
55+
163
185
348
(%)
46.84
53.16
Total
716
467
1182
Chi-Square 43.00, PO.OOl

177
Among those 18-34 years, only 29% had been to the Benediction of the
Blessed Sacrament at least once a year. My preliminary interviews revealed that some
of the young people did not know the meaning of this religious practice. They showed
a lack of Catholic vocabulary, in general.
Rosary: The survey showed statistical significance in the frequency of reciting
Rosary among the age groups. It seems there is an increase in this traditional
Catholic-based practice as one increases in age. Table 39 presents the frequency of
Rosary.
As Table 39 indicates, the frequency difference in praying the Rosary between
those 55 and above and those 18-34 is more than 50%. In my informal conversation
TABLE 39
Frequency of the Religious Practice of Rosary
Age Group
Less than 1 month
At least 1 month
Total
18-34
294
70
364
(%)
80.77
19.23
35-54
366
139
365
(%)
72.48
27.52
55+
209
156
365
(%)
57.26
42.74
Total
869
365
1,234
Chi-Square 50.00, PO.OOl

178
with a group of five Catholic students, I asked them if they owned the Rosary. One
of them said, “I don”t have a Rosary, and I don’t know how to say the Rosary.”
Another student said, “My grandparents say the Rosary for me, so I don’t have to say
it.” Another student said, “Rosary is for those who are retired from their jobs and
have plenty of time.” In the sample, all four parishes have the practice of praying the
Rosary before the daily Mass. The attendance for the daily Rosary in each parish
ranges from 3 to 15 persons, depending on the liturgical seasons. For example, during
the season of Lent more people participate in praying the Rosary as part of their
spiritual renewal in the season.
Novena: Only one parish holds a Novena on Tuesdays in honor of the
Miraculous Medal. The younger as well as the older generations seem to make private
novenas according their needs. Table 40 presents the frequency of novena by age
groups.
Our survey indicates that the percentage of those making novena among the
18-34 age group is higher than those of the 34-54. This difference could be an
indication that students make more novenas for various reasons including their
success in the final exams. I observed during my pastoral field work that the students
make more frequent church visits during exam periods than any other time.
Fasting: The survey results indicate that the practice of fasting once a year is
strong across the age groups. Of those who reported fasting once a year, 59.56%
belong to 18-34; 65.01% belong to 35-54 and 66.11% belong to 55+. There is a

179
TABLE 40
Frequency of Religious Practice of Novena, by Age Groups
Age Group
Less than 1 year
At least 1 year
Total
18-34
279
75
354
(%)
78.81
21.19
35-5
401
95
495
(%)
80.85
19.15
55+
253
104
357
(%)
70.87
29.13
Total
933
274
1,207
Chi-Square 12.00,
P<0.01
correlation between the increase in age and practice of fasting. As people grow older,
fasting appears to be seen as a source of grace to receive benefits from God My
assumption is that most of the older people follow the Lenten observance of fast much
more often than that is recommended by the Church.
Abstaining from meat: There was no statistical significance in the practice of
abstinence from meat. Of those who indicated this practice at least once a year, each
age group was represented by about 80%. In an age of health-culture where diet and
exercise seems to be the practice of the day, it is difficult to determine how many of
them abstain from meat for religious reasons.

180
Liturgy of the Hours and Stations of the Cross: The survey responses related
to the Liturgy of the Hours indicated that this practice is not common. Liturgy of the
Hours is still considered the obligatory practice of the clergy. Stations of the Cross
is practiced more during the season of Lent than any other time.
Retreat: It seems to be a more common practice than the Liturgy of the Hours.
There is some statistical significance among the age groups on retreats. Table 41
presents the distribution.
Contrary to the conventional expectation, the practice of retreat among the
younger generation was higher than the older generation. One explanation is that two
parishes have developed ministries that are focused on the younger age group. For
TABLE 41
Distribution of the Practice of Retreat, by Age Group
Age Group
Less than 1 year
At least 1 year
Total
18-34
269
95
364
(%)
73.90
26.10
35-54
399
99
498
(%)
80.12
19.88
55+
275
78
353
(%)
77.90
22.10
Total
943
272
1,215
Chi-Square 50.00, P<0.01

181
example, the Alpha Retreat conducted two times a year in St. Benedict attracts more
than 75 students. Private retreats guided by clergy and lay specialists are also
common in the parishes. A lay specialist in spiritual direction from St. Benedict parish
reported that annually 80 to 100 people from St. Benedict make private guided
retreats.
Gender differences in the category of the Catholic sacramental practices are
indicated here. Of the eight Catholic sacramental practices, women were more
practicing than men. Women scored higher percentages of attendance or participation
in five practices; men and women about equal in three practices. The practices on
which women scored higher percentages than men are: 1) Benediction of the Blessed
Sacrament (41.15% / 35.05%), 2) Rosary (32.80% / 25.40%), 3) Novena (27.26% /
16.26%), and 4) Abstinence from meat (85.52% / 79.33%). The two practices in
which there is no discemable difference are 1) fasting (63.00% / 64.00%), and (2)
Retreat (22.38% / 22.86%).
Women are reported to be the principle practitioners of religion in the world
(Batson and Ventis, 1982). The Catholic Church has honored several women as saints
(martyrs) who had given up their lives in the practice of their religious faith. Women
continue to report frequent religious practices than men. Women seem convinced that
it is the spirituality that influences their day-to-day life events such as personal
growth, family formation, career success, and social activities.

182
General Christian Practices
The percentage of Catholics reading the Bible at least once a month increased
from 23% to 32% between 1977 to 1986 (Gallup & Castelli, 1987). A recent poll
indicates that some general Christian practices such as Bible reading, Spiritual
reading, Retreats, and Centering prayer are becoming common among Catholics.
According to The Roper Poll (1997), 30% of the Catholics said that they read the
Bible more than once a month, and 50% said they read once a month or less. Among
the survey population, the majority of those who read the Bible belong to the 18-34
age group. About 41% of them said that they read the Bible at least once a month.
This is about 4% more than the middle age group and 6% more than the older group.
This variation could be explained by the fact that the older group was not encouraged
to read the Bible by the Church for the fear of possible private interpretation. Only
after Vatican n, did the Church promote a spirituality based on the Bible for
Catholics. The Church began to encourage Bible services, Bible studies, and a wider
cycle of Bible readings in the Mass. Even after these practices were introduced in the
parishes, older Catholics still remain dubious about them.
Like Bible reading, the practice of Centering prayer seems more common
among the younger group than the other two groups. This is, again, a new
phenomenon introduced in the parishes that is welcomed more among the youth. I
have no data so as to make a comparison of this practice with the Protestants.

183
TABLE 42
Percentages Practicing Bible Reading and Other Spiritual Reading, by Gender
Gender
Practice
Less than 1 month
At least 1 month
Male
Bible Reading
67.26
32.74
Female
Bible Reading
58.89
41.11
Male
Other Spiritual Reading
68.13
31.87
Female
Other Spiritual Reading
53.37
46.63
For each practice: PO.OOl
For the following three general Christian practices, there is a clear pattern: the
older the person, the more frequently they practice 1) Grace at meals, 2) personal
reflection of God, and 3) other spiritual reading. These three items are traditional
Christian practices that are common in homes and individual lives.
The survey results suggest that women are more likely to engage in these
general Christian practices than men. There are two practices in which women are
substantially different from men. Table 42 presents the distribution of the Bible
reading and other spiritual reading by gender.
As we see in Table 42, in Bible reading and other spiritual reading, women
have a big lead: About 10% more females than males are reading the Bible at least
once a month. About 15% more females than males read other spiritual materials. In
my interviews with parishioners, I found that more women than men read bedtime
stories to their children. Most women preferred to read stories from the Bible than

184
from any other book. They indicated that reading stories from the Bible such as
miracle stories help not only their children but also themselves. Women also engage
in Centering prayer more than men. But the difference was not as significant as in
Bible reading and other spiritual reading. Centering prayer is practiced once a year
by 43% of the females and 37% of the males. In such practices as “Grace at meals”
and “personal reflection,” there is no noticeable difference between men and women.
For the purposes of further analysis, I created a new, variable “practice scale.”
According to the religious practice scale, the lowest score was 4—those who do
virtually no religious practices--and the maximum was 96; among the respondents,
the mean for this scale was 35.3. Then I collapsed the practice scale into low
observance, medium observance, and high observance. Table 43 presents the
distribution of three levels of religious observance among our respondents.
There is equal percentage of low and medium observance in the sample
population. The percentage of high observance differs only by 2% from the low and
TABLE 43
The Level of Religious Observance, by Number and Percentage
Practice Scale
Number
Percentage
Low observance
422
32.9
Medium observance
420
32.8
High observance
439
34.3

185
medium. Then, difference is not significant. The lay specialists’ services are assumed
to help the cognitive, affective, and behavioral dimensions of the parishioners. I
discuss later the influence of lay specialists’ services in the religious practices of the
respondents.

CHAPTER 6
THE LAY SPECIALISTS: OVERVIEW OF THE TRANSITION
In this chapter I describe and analyze the transformation that has led to the
increasing prominence of the lay specialists in the sample parishes. I begin first with
a brief discussion of occupational specialization. I then analyze four different
parishes, and draw from the analysis a theoretical continuum of a process of change
leading from the Traditional parish directed by priests to the Transformed parish in
which the laity play a greater role. I end the chapter with a discussion of some
possible causes underlying the transition, and differences found in the survey
parishes.
The division of work and specialization in work are closely linked to each
other. They allow individuals or groups to accomplish tasks for which they are
particularly skilled and trained (Reitz, 1987). In hunting and gathering societies,
where division of labor was mostly gender-based, there were marks of specialization.
Those who were skilled in spearing animals and fish went for large game hunting and
deep sea fishing, and those who were less skilled went for small game hunting and
some fishing Likewise, in horticultural societies (average size 150-200 people) there
was a higher degree of specialization in economics, politics and, religion. Further,
greater division of labor and specialization in agrarian societies was the basis for
186

187
different classes such as rulers (government), merchants, priests, and peasants. At
present, industrial societies, which have greater increased production and
consumption of resources, are known for intense specialization in the areas of
government, health, education, space, science, and engineering. Marvin Harris, in his
book Culture, People, Nature (1988), stated, “An industrial society is a society that
relies on the detailed division of labor in combination with power-driven machinery
to achieve mass production of goods and services. Detailed division of labor refers
to the separation of production tasks into many tiny steps carried out by different
workers.”
What is seen in secular life is seen also in the religious sphere. Religion has
embraced what is socially considered a hallmark of the human intellect: a division of
the work among people with specializations. For several centuries in the Catholic
Church, ritual and administrative work was divided among the three specialists:
bishops, priests, and deacons. However, within the past 20 years, a new phenomenon
has emerged in the Catholic parishes: the non-ordained lay specialists who work in
the Catholic parishes performing several tasks that used to be the duties of the clergy.
I next describe lay specialists, who they are, and what they do in the parishes with
their diverse specializations.
A Descriptive Definition of “Lav Specialists”
The word “lay” denotes a person who is neither a cleric nor a vowed religious.
In Catholic understanding, this word implies a person who is usually married, often

188
with a family and some secular job (Osborne, 1993). The linguistic origin of the word
“laity” reflects a certain secular character. It comes from the Greek word “laikos,”
meaning ordinary, profane, not consecrated. The laity often meant a group of
believers who were not counted among the sacred clan or clerics. In order to
emphasize the importance and uniqueness of their secular character and their service
to the world, the Second Vatican Council stated that “Their secular character is proper
and peculiar to the laity.... By reason of their special vocation it belongs to the laity
to seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and directing them
according to God’s will. They live in this world; that is, they are engaged in each and
every work and business of the earth and in the ordinary circumstances of social and
family life, which, as it were, constitutes their very existence” (The Dogmatic
Constitution on the Church, No: 31).
Lay specialists are laity in the full sense of the word; they belong to the
subculture of laity, but at the same time they have a different status in the parish
community. They have this status, by virtue of three qualities: their specialization,
their recognition and their remuneration. I examine all three.
First, the lay specialists are experts in their particular field of activities. Their
expertise results from a formal education and training with certification in some
traditions of the Catholic Church. For example, in the survey parishes, several lay
specialists hold academic degrees such as bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoráis degrees
in sacred liturgy, music, and spirituality. Some of them are without a formal degree;

189
nevertheless, they have been recognized for special skills and talents needed for their
duties. Some of these are working toward a formal degree, taking summer courses
from academic institutions, while they are actively involved in their specialized tasks.
Secondly, lay specialists are distinguished among the laity by virtue of their
recognition in their parishes. They are formally appointed by the head priest (pastor),
and recognized by the parish community. They are respected as professionals among
the parishioners. They are approached by individuals who need their specialized
services. In the sample parishes, 80% of the lay specialists are hired full-time and
20% part-time; 66% are females and 34% are males.
Thirdly, they are different from the laity by virtue of their remuneration.
Volunteers assist with parish works, but the lay specialists are paid for their
specialized services in the parish. Some of them are paid bi-weekly and some
monthly. The full-time lay specialists receive auxiliary benefits such as health
insurance and retirement plans.
These considerations permit us to make an operational definition of the lay
specialist. A definition of a lay specialist in a Catholic parish is a person, male or
female, married or single, who has a body of specialized knowledge in a particular
area of the Catholic tradition or has demonstrated skills and readiness to acquire it.
The lay specialist is appointed by the pastor, given full-time or part-time salary, and
is recognized by the parish community.

190
Characteristics of Lav Specialists
The concept of Human Materialism (Magnarella, 1993), that serves as a
theoretical model for this research, includes in its social infrastructure component the
personality characteristics of the individuals who hold structural positions and
positions of power in any social organization. The personality characteristics include
individuals’ intellect, discourse and communicative skills, appearance, actions, and
collaborative skills. The assumption is that these characteristics play vital roles in
their decisions and other performances. Human Materialism (Magnarella, 1993)
asserts that the characteristics of these individuals need to be appropriate in order to
reach the goals expressed in the superstructural component.
In the parish organization lay specialists occupy important positions. Needless
to say, their knowledge, communicative skills, appearance and collaborative skills
play important roles in helping the parish reach its objectives. Before I describe the
nature of their tasks, I present some characteristics of the lay specialists that I
observed through one-on-one interviews with them and through my participant
observation in their parish programs. I categorized my observations under the
following subjects: Motivation, Education, and Collaboration. My description
includes, wherever it is appropriate, a case example from one of the lay specialists.
Motivation
The central question for the lay specialists is “Why did the lay specialists
consciously choose this position among the alternative careers?” There was not a

191
uniform response to the question. About 60% of the respondents said that they had
a deep desire to work for the parish. When I asked them to articulate this desire, they
gave responses such as “I love pastoral, spiritual dimension in my life,” “I am
interested in the rituals of the church,” “I enjoy working with the youth,” “I was
interested in the choir from my childhood,” “I wanted to work with people in our
parish environment, it is different.” About 30% pointed out that they had been
involved in the parish activities for many years. When the pastor invited them to work
for the parish, they accepted. About 10% indicated that they have settled in their
parishes with their children and grandchildren. During these years, they have come
to know several families and their particular needs. Their positions as lay specialists
in the parishes offered them the opportunities to help these families and by helping
them they found “enormous amount of personal happiness” in their life. Lay
specialists are motivated to work for the parish members. Their motivations are
generated either by personal interest, or involvement in the parish activities or the
need to help the people and families they have known for several years.
A case example: A female specialist in liturgy in one of our sample parishes
who came to the United States from her home country with a bachelor’s degree in
nursing. She pursued her master’s degree in nursing at the local university. During her
graduate education she frequented St. Benedict parish and was involved in a charis¬
matic prayer group and the parish choir on Sundays. When she graduated, she took
a job at the local Veterans Administration hospital and continued to be involved in the

192
parish. As a graduate student and later as a clinical specialist and nurse practitioner,
she had experienced an intense desire to make the celebration of Sunday Mass
“interesting” to the people. She revealed her interest to one of the parish council
members who then introduced her to the other members. The parish council placed
her in charge of the liturgy committee to coordinate various parish activities related
to liturgy such as Sunday liturgy, children’s liturgy, and Rites of Christian Initiation
for Adults (RCIA). As a volunteer, her interest and skills displayed in liturgical
activities were appreciated by the parishioners. Eventually she was hired by the pastor
as a part-time liturgical director. Since this part-time work demanded more time than
she had anticipated, she resigned her full-time job at the Veterans Administration
hospital and gave her full attention to the tasks of a parish liturgist. However, the
remuneration received from the parish for the part-time job was not enough to support
her. She said “I knew that St. Benedict was not going to hire me full time. And I
needed to support myself. So I went to teach nursing part-time in the community
college and also worked about 10 hours per week as a ‘housekeeper.’” She enrolled
in a summer graduate program in sacred liturgy. The parish supported her financially
for her formal education and training in liturgy. She completed her graduate education
over five summers and now works lull time as a liturgy specialist in the parish. Her
personal interest in working for the parish and her willingness to give up her financial
security (her pay is not comparable to professional salaries) for the sake of the parish
are evidences of the quality we are here discussing: strong motivation.

193
Education
In my observations I took note not only of the motivation of the specialists, but
also of the educational preparation which they had received to permit them to follow
their motivation. Gallup polls with samples of 1,509 people in the United States in the
1970s indicated that the public associated 14 of a possible 34 characteristics with the
image of a leader. These included bright, intelligent, exceptional abilities, decisive,
high moral principles, believable, likeable, good judgment, and religious (Reitz,
1987). The 21 lay specialists in our survey parishes are an educated group: 60% of
them have graduate degrees, including one doctorate; 10% of them have bachelor’s
degrees; 30% have had some college education and are enrolled in the diocesan
certification program that gives training and formation in theology, scripture, liturgy,
spirituality, and sacraments. During my one-on-one interviews with the lay specialists
I found that they are well prepared for the tasks given them in the parishes. They
know what (the content) they are expected to give. They have the skills to present the
teachings to the parishioners. Continuing education seems to be an important factor
in the education of the lay specialists. Local pastors encourage and financially support
them to help them attend continuing educational programs conducted at the diocesan,
regional, and national levels. Most of these programs last three to ten days, and are
presented in different forms, such as seminars, workshops, and study groups. The lay
specialists share their newly learned knowledge and skills with the other lay

194
specialists in the parish staff meetings. Such sharing seems to stimulate group interest
and creativity in the parish.
A case example: a female specialist in Christian Spirituality who came to town
about 15 years ago. She had a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree
in general experimental psychology. She sought admission to the College of
Engineering at the University of Florida; she wanted a degree in engineering. She
became involved in the parish prayer group, which at that time is reported to have
consisted of about 100 members. Her interest and involvement in the parish began to
develop far beyond the Emits of the prayer group. She became a Eucharistic minister
in the parish, to take communion to the sick in the local hospitals. Her interactions
with the parishioners and the members of the prayer group made her realize that many
people had problems, but they had no one to help them in the parish. When I asked
her to clarify what she meant by “no one to help,” she said that there was no one
trained to help these people with their painful life problems such as family violence,
separation, divorce, and relational problems. She dropped out of her engineering
program at the university and sought admission to the College of Education where she
obtained a specialist degree in agency correctional developmental counseling. During
the final semester of her studies, she was hired part time; then went to full time as
counselor in the parish. She worked about three years and six months as a resident
counselor in the parish. Her work experience among the manifold human problems
of the parishioners made her realize her single aim was to focus on their spiritual

195
problems. She said, “I felt called. In my interior feelings I felt my own spiritual
reawakening of God and I wanted to help others experience the same.” She decided
to pursue her education in spirituality. She completed a master’s degree in
Theological Studies and another master’s degree in Christian spirituality. Now she
holds multiple academic degrees in psychology, counseling, theology and Christian
spirituality and works as a full- time specialist in spirituality.
Collaboration
But no matter how well educated the specialist, he or she will have little
success in the parish without skills in a third area: collaboration. Experimental studies
indicate that clear and well-defined goals can enhance group cohesiveness. The group
that was given clear goals was reported to have liked the tasks assigned, individuals
felt part of the group and showed greater concern for their own and the group’s
performance (Reitz, 1989). The survey parishes have clear goals that are relevant to
the needs of the particular demographics of the parishioners. For example, St.
Benedict parish provides services to the students and families. The parish wants to
meet the needs of the students as well as the needs of the families. St. Thomas offers
services to the families and the retired and elderly. The lay specialists who work
together to achieve the specific goals of their parishes function as a team, in the
general atmosphere of communication, cooperation, and mutual support.
Collaborative skills in the lay specialists seems warranted by the nature of their
tasks. They are independent individuals, but they are dependent on each other for the

196
successful completion of the parish tasks. This needs further explanation. For
example, when a couple comes to the parish to be married in the church, the process
appear simple: the couple meets with a priest and gets married at the altar. But it is
a more complex phenomenon. The couple first contacts a priest in the parish and
formally begins the marriage preparation period that lasts about six months. During
this six-month period, the couple interacts with several lay specialists in the parish.
For example, the specialists in marriage and family help the couple with FOCCUS
(Facilitating Open Couple Communication, Understanding, and Study), and arrange
several supportive programs such as Pre-Cana and Engaged Encounter. The liturgy
specialist helps the couple with the ritual celebrations. The specialist in music helps
to plan and choose the music in the ritual celebrations. Spiritual formation is
considered one of the vital elements in the marriage preparations. The couples are
encouraged to seek a deeper awareness of their spiritual experience of God through
scripture readings, prayers, and short term retreats. The specialist in spirituality is
available in the parish to help the couples address their spiritual needs. Thus, the
marriage preparation is seen as a team effort that involves collaboration of the priests
and lay specialists who bring knowledge, and skills that are considered vital for the
preparation of the couples to the Sacrament of Marriage.
One forum in which a high level of collaboration seems to take place is that
of the pastoral staff meetings, a collaborative event in which status differences
between clergy and laity are leveled. The schedule of pastoral staff meetings varies

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from parish to parish: weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly. The staff meetings often
consist of the priests (the pastor and the associates) and the lay specialists. Sometimes
the support staff (office manager, finance officer) are invited to participate in the
meeting. The meeting is facilitated by a pastoral staff member who could be one of
the priests or a lay specialist. In the meetings they inform each other about what has
happened in the parish: the people admitted in the hospital; the children bom to the
parish members; the people in marriage preparations; the persons going to be married;
the persons divorced or separated; the people who died; the students who graduated;
the parishioners who need special help. They discuss with each other how they have
helped people in the parishes. They talk at length about what needs to be done further
to help the parishioners. They inform each other about the forthcoming events, such
as Sacramental celebrations (Marriage, Baptism), and meetings with special groups
such as parish council, finance council, stewardship council, retreats and study
groups. In all the interactions, there is a constant revision of temporal responsibilities
to meet the myriad needs of the parishioners. Their communication with each other
in the pastoral staff meetings brings out their expertise and experience rather than
their rank or authority such as clergy or laity. They seem to exhibit a considerable
amount of influence on each other in the pastoral staff meetings. Such influences
appear to emanate from their expertise with a particular problem rather than from
their status as either clergy or laity.

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A case example: Approximately two years ago, there was a “crisis” in one of
the survey parishes. The manner in which the crisis was handled by the priests and
lay specialists indicates the level of their collaboration in the parish. The pastor of a
particular parish laid off one of the two directors of religious education (DRE) who
were husband and wife, due to lack of financial resources in the parish budget. This
was not well received by the former DRE director and some parishioners. The couple
(both DREs) decided to leave the parish and seek jobs in another parish. The parish
was left without a DRE and a few families were discontented with the pastor’s
decision. I call this situation a “crisis” because some important interests of the parish
were threatened. Children needed religious education, but they had no religious
education director. Dissatisfied parents of these children could give up their present
parish membership and choose another parish for the religious education of their
children. Some families threatened to leave the parish. Consequently, the parish
contributions could have been affected by the “crisis.” At this juncture, the lay
specialists of this particular parish became the major resource. They handled the
critical situation until a new DRE was hired. They divided the work of the DRE: the
specialist in liturgy took charge of planning the religious education program for the
adult members of the family. The coordinator of Baptism took the responsibility of
coordinating the catechists, who help with the religious education program for the
children. The specialists in spirituality and marriage and family became members of
the new DRE search committee, headed by one of the associate priests. A new

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director was hired after six months. In the meantime, the lay specialists engaged in
informal interactions with those parents who indicated some discontent due to the
departure of the previous DREs. These informal interactions often took place in
casual conversations after the Sunday Masses or some friendly home visits. These
informal interactions gave ample opportunities for the discontented parents and
families to vent their feelings and to come to accept the situation of their parish. As
a result, not all those families that threatened to leave the parish did. Two families are
reported to have left the parish for a neighboring parish in the same town. The level
of parish contributions to the parish stayed the same as before the crisis. Several
parents who were once discontented at the time of “crisis” are again involved in the
parish activities. As we have observed, this crisis is an example of how the lay
specialists have played a collaborative role that is characterized by their warm,
nonjudgmental, generous and sympathetic attitudes. They are maintaining the internal
balances of the parish.
Lav Specialists’ Tasks
The preceding presented some characteristics of effective lay specialists. But
what specifically do they actually do in the parishes? The lay specialists perform
several specialized tasks in Catholic parishes. This section delineates the tasks they
perform in the survey parishes. Table 44 presents the profile of specialized tasks in
St. Thomas, St. Benedict, St. Justin, and St. Francis and those who perform them.

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TABLE 44
The Profile of Parish Activities and Agents, by Parish
(P = Priest; LS = Lay Specialist; LV = Lay Volunteer)
Functions
St.
Thomas
St.
Benedict
St.
Justin
St.
Francis
1. Liturgy Planning
P
LS
LV
LV
2. Training Lit. Mins.
P
LS
LV
LV
3. Sacramental Preparation
P
LS
LS
LS
4. CCD Program
LS
LS
LS
LS
5. RCIA Program
LV
LS
LS
LS
6. Marriage/Family Ministry
LS
LS
P
LS
7. Youth Ministry
LS
LS
LS
LS
8. Adult Education
LV
LS
LS
P
9. Minis. Divorce/Separation
LV
LS
LV
P
10. Bereavement Ministry
LV
LV
LS
LS
11. Alcoholic Anonymous
LV
-
-
-
12. Alanon
LV
-
-
-
13. Golden Gators
-
-
-
-
14. Pax Christi
-
LV
-
-
15. Alpha Program
-
LS
-
-
16. Evangel./Mission
P
LS
LV
LV
17. Spiritual Retreat
P
LS
P
P
18. Prayer Group
LV
LV
LV
LV
19. Ministry to Sick
LV
LV
LS
LV
20. Singles Support
LV
LS
-
-
21. Right to Life
LV
LV
-
LV
22. Music Ministry
LS
LS
LS
LS
22. Marriage Preparation
P
LS
P
LS
23. Spiritual Director
P
LS
P
P
24. Pastoral Counselling
P
P
P
P
25. Crisis Management
-
LS
P
P
26. Pastoral Assistant
-
-
LS
LS
Table 44 presents the variety of tasks that are carried out in the survey parishes
and that in theory involve the lay specialists being discussed in this chapter. The table

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does not include those specifically liturgical tasks—celebration of Mass or hearing
of Confessions— which only the priests are authorized to perform, or those liturgical
tasks which are generally assigned to lay volunteers—greeters, ushers, lectors (for the
pre-Gospel readings at Mass, two on Sundays, one on weekdays). The lay specialists
may do these latter activities, but in their capacity as parishioners, not as professional
parish employees. In theory every one of the activities on the Table 44 could be
performed by a lay specialist. But a cursory examination shows that their assumption
of these tasks has been partial, and that it differs from parish to parish.
In Table 45 below, I have retabulated the data from the preceding table,
comparing the parishes quantitatively on these matters.
TABLE 45
Percentages of Parish Activities and Agents, by Parish
Priests
Lay Specialists
Volunteers
St. Thomas
8
4
10
(%)
36.3
18.2
45.5
St. Benedict
1
15
7
(%)
4.3
65.2
30.5
St. Justin
6
9
6
(%)
28.6
42.9
28.5
St. Francis
6
9
6
(%)
28.6
42.9
28.5

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The distribution shown in Table 45 indicates the variation in number and
percentage of specialized tasks performed by the lay specialists in our survey
parishes. The lay specialists’ tasks are not evenly spread across the parishes. St
Thomas has the least percentage of lay specialists’ tasks and St. Benedict has the
largest. St. Justin and St. Francis have the same percentage of specialists’ tasks. Three
types of parishes are classified thus: (i) Type One: Traditional parish—St. Thomas, (ii)
Type Two: Transitional parish—St. Justin and St. Francis, (iii) Type Three:
Transformed parish-St. Benedict. My classification is based mainly on who does “the
essential tasks” in the Catholic parishes. Essential tasks are spiritual direction, and
“sacramental work” such as Eucharist, Baptism, Confirmation, Communion, and
Marriage. The sacramental work consists of planning, training, instructing, and
presiding over the ritual celebrations.
Type One: A traditional parish. In a Type One parish, the priests seem to be
in charge of most of the essential tasks. The parish priests are directly involved in
spiritual direction and the sacramental tasks. The term “directly” means that the
priests are involved with the people personally from the planning session to the ritual
celebrations. Lay volunteers help the priests, or in conventional language “help out
the Father,” in the ritual celebrations of the sacraments, by setting the things up
needed for the celebrations, singing in the choir, and hosting social celebrations soon
after the ritual celebrations. Lay volunteers in a Type One parish are in charge of a
host of social ministries that are somehow related to the different segment of the

203
parish population such as the separated, divorced, single, sick, elderly, widowed, and
the grieving. Those who run these ministries very much depend on their pastor for
planning and approval. However, three tasks, namely religious education, music
ministry, and youth ministry, are performed in a Type One parish by the lay
specialists. Unlike the volunteers, these lay specialists enjoy a certain amount of
independence in planning and training. For example, the music director could choose
appropriate hymns for the Mass and train the choir members. However, they are
expected to consult the pastor for the implementation of their plans. In a Type One
parish the pastor is the dominant figure who sets the orientation for the parish. He
may divide the work among his parishioners who may have been qualified for the
work or showed some willingness to work either for salary or free. The tasks given
to lay specialists are very minimal.
Type Three: A transformed parish. For analytic purposes I skip immediately
to the transformed parish to better compare it to the traditional parish. In the
transformed parish most of the essential tasks are divided and given to the full-time
or part-time lay specialists. For example, a lay person who has a specialization in
spirituality is hired as a full-time spiritual director to help the parishioners with
spiritual problems. Another lay person who is a specialist in liturgy is hired as a full¬
time liturgy director to take care of the liturgical or ritual celebrations. Almost all the
sacramental work in a Type Three parish is performed by the lay specialists. That is
to say, the lay specialists do the planning, training, and instructing of the parishioners

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for such sacraments as Baptism, Confirmation, Communion, and Marriage. The
priests preside over the ritual celebrations of the sacraments by virtue of their priestly
ordination. However, the priests’ roles in the sacramental tasks are not limited only
to presiding over the ritual celebrations. They are invited by the lay specialists to give
pastoral instructions to special groups such as the adult Baptism group, Confirmation
group, and marriage couples. They are invited to visit and speak to the children who
are preparing for First Communion. These occasional visits and special pastoral
instructions to the groups in the parish give the priests opportunities to know the
participants before the actual ritual celebrations take place. Since lay specialists are
directly involved with the parishioners, the priests’ involvement with the parishioners
on personal levels tends to be reduced in the Type Three (transformed) parish.
Unlike in a Type One parish where volunteers help the priests, in a Type Three
parish, volunteers help the lay specialists. They receive the directions for their
activities directly from the lay specialists. For all practical reasons, lay specialists are
considered the “heads” for the volunteers. Each lay specialist recruits volunteers to
help in particular tasks. For example, the liturgy director can have a host of volunteers
(up to two hundred) to help in the ritual celebrations of the sacraments. These
volunteers are instructed and trained by the liturgy director as lectors, eucharistic
ministers, altar servers, and ushers.
Lay specialists in a Type Three parish enjoy more independence than those in
a Type One parish. They plan activities and train and instruct the members within

205
their area of specialization. Unlike the lay specialists in a Type One parish, these lay
specialists are not expected to get the approval of the pastor for the individual
activities of their specialization. They meet once a week with the pastor and other
priests collectively in the pastoral staff meetings and present information about their
work in their particular fields. They take decisions collectively if some major changes
are needed in the policies related to their ministries. For example, they discuss special
programs such as retreats, discussion groups, study groups in the season of Lent. They
decide collectively who would be in charge and how those programs would benefit
the parishioners. Persons in charge of such programs are expected to construct plans
and organize the programs. However, they consult with the pastor to solve problems
if they arise in their respective work fields. In a Type Three parish, the pastor is not
the dominant figure. He is seen more as a consultant and overseer of the several tasks
that are performed by the lay specialists.
Type Two; A transitional parish. I now backtrack to examine the transitional
parish intermediate between the traditional and transformed parish. In a Type Two
parish, the essential tasks are divided between the priests and lay specialists. For
example, the spiritual direction is given by the priests and the planning and training
in some of the sacramental work are performed by the lay specialists. The instruction
in the sacramental work is shared by the priests and the lay specialists. In a Type Two
parish, volunteers work under the lay specialists and priests. For example, the DRE
has about 30 volunteers to provide religious education to the children. These

206
volunteers are recruited and trained by the specialist. And the priests are helped by
the volunteers in the sacramental work. For example, a volunteer helps the priest to
coordinate the liturgy committee and its activities in the parish, and another volunteer
acts as a contact person in the parish for the marriage preparations. In the survey area,
I have identified two parishes that belong to Type Two. In these parishes there are
pastoral assistants who work closely with the priests in several tasks such as
sacramental ministry to the sick, funerals, and bereavement and coordinating hospital
ministry.
Lay specialists in the transitional parish seem to enjoy more independence than
the lay specialists in a traditional parish. However, they do not have the complete
autonomy like the lay specialists in the Type Three, transformed, parish. The lay
specialists in the transitional parish meet with the pastor bi-weekly and take decisions
collectively, but they are to be approved by the pastor. Any later modifications in the
collective decisions are made in the one-on-one meeting with the pastor. The pastor
retains the authority to himself to modify or to change the plans. However, the lay
specialists enjoy more autonomy in non-sacramental work such as youth ministry and
ministry to the sick. In a Type Two parish the pastor is a dominant figure. But he is
also consultant and overseer of some tasks performed by lay specialists.
The preceding can be summed up as follows: We have identified three distinct
types of participants in the parish work: the ordained priests, lay volunteers, and the
lay specialists. The first two types have existed from time immemorial. The third

207
type, the salaried lay specialist, represents a phenomenon that has emerged in the
decades following Vatican II (1962-1965). In the typical preconciliar Catholic parish
in the United States, the paid lay specialists were generally unknown and absent. But
in the postconciliar Catholic Church, the parish without at least one or two lay
specialists is probably the exception. The emergence of these lay specialists has been
one of the major features of the changes that have come over the Catholic parishes in
the survey area. I have no data to support whether this shift into increasing lay
ecclesiastical specialization has occurred uniformly in the postconciliar Universal
Church in such places as Asia, Africa, Europe, or South America This research
establishes the emerging prominence of lay specialization in the four parishes.
I have proposed a continuum from a Type One parish in which the role of the
priest remains strong, through a transitional Type Two parish in which the lay
specialists become gradually more important, into a Type Three parish in which the
role of the lay specialists in the parish is now central and prominent, and in which a
substantial proportion of the parish budget (75%) is allocated to paying the salaries
of these lay specialists. This logically defensible continuum receives empirical
support as well from the tabular data gathered in the survey. I have identified the three
types of parishs as defined by the division of the essential work in the parish.
What are the causes and consequences of this shift into lay specialization at
the parish level? While I explore the consequences below, I speculate here briefly on
two causes. The emerging phenomenon of lay specialists’ involvement in essential

208
work formerly reserved to the ordained priests has to be understood as an adaptation
to several societal factors operating simultaneously. One factor is the radical decline
in priestly vocation that has come in the wake of Vatican n. From a simple material
point of view, there are too few priests to carry out the increased tasks of a parish.
These tasks need particular training and education of several persons. A second factor
is the increased social status of the laity. In the traditional Catholicism of immigrant
America, the priest was the most knowledgeable person on the broadest variety of
issues in the parish. As this study indicates this is no longer the case. The laity are
specialized in every branch of science including religion. There are other factors
beyond the two which I briefly presented here. In this chapter I have shown that to
some degree all four survey parishes take part in the process of the shift to lay
specialists. In the following chapter I examine the lay specialists’ roles in more
specific detail.

CHAPTER 7
SPECIFIC ROLES OF THE LAY SPECIALISTS
The preceding chapter, which presented an overview of lay specialists in the
sample parishes was general in focus. In this chapter I go into more ethnographic
detail about what the specialists actually do in the sample parishes.
Liturgy Specialist
National survey results indicate that the majority of those lay persons involved
in Church liturgy are females (58%). My survey results concur with the national
findings. Women are in charge of the liturgical arrangements in all four parishes. St.
Benedict parish has a full-time liturgy director. St. Thomas, St. Justin, and St. Francis
have no liturgy specialists. In these parishes the functions of a liturgist are conjoined
with the functions of other specialists such as director of Music and director of
Religious Education and Pastoral Assistant. I discuss in this chapter which functions
are linked with the other specialists. The following descriptions of the functions of
the liturgy director are obtained from my personal interviews with lay specialists and
observations of the liturgical activities in the parishes.
The tasks assigned to the specialist in liturgy seem to be grounded on three
principles that are considered important by the parishes: 1) All the responsibilities and
functions of a liturgist are expected to create and maintain an atmosphere that would
209

210
be helpful to ritual celebrations, Christian formation and prayer. 2) The liturgist is
expected to promote, and to encourage volunteers in various liturgical programs and
activities. (3) The liturgist is expected to call parishioners for periodic assessment
about parish needs and elicit feedback from all the participants in various liturgical
activities.
Based on these three principles, various tasks are spelled out. The primary task
of the liturgist is to prepare Sunday and weekday Eucharistic rituals. The rituals
include the special seasonal celebrations, including Advent-Christmas, Lent-Easter-
Pentecost, and other Holy Days of Obligation, such as the Feast of Mary’s
Immaculate Conception. In practice, the liturgist coordinates the work of the clergy,
music director, and others, such as the lectors, altar servers, and Eucharistic ministers.
Preparation for the Eucharistic rituals is ongoing. The liturgist usually calls for
periodical meetings with those in charge of the liturgical matters and plans for the
ritual celebrations. The meetings take place as often as four to six times a year.
For example, in the parish of St. Benedict the liturgy specialist calls for four
formal meetings a year with the clergy and music director. Two meetings are held
around Advent and Lent, and two before the University starts Fall and Spring
semesters. Such meetings start with a prayer. The liturgy director presents the general
liturgical theme of the season and invites the participants to discuss the theme,
relating it to the Scripture readings and to the needs of the local church (parish). This
formal meeting enables the music director to select appropriate songs that would fit

211
into the liturgical season. The liturgy specialist sets the time for rehearsals and
practices of rituals as needed The rehearsals and practices are mainly held during the
Sacred Triduum, that is, on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday of the
Holy Week. A portion of time is devoted also to review how well the previous season
was observed
The liturgy specialist makes notes on extra things to be taken care of during
particular seasons and assigns persons to these tasks. For example, there would be
extra time allotted for Confession during the Sacred Triduum, and so the specialist
assigns individual priests to be available during that period of time. The meetings are
planned and conducted by the liturgy specialist. The pastor participates in meetings
along with his associate priests. He does not hold a special place in meetings by virtue
of his position as the pastor, although he can intervene with his pastoral authority if
he considers it necessary. In general, however, in the transformed parish discussed in
the preceding chapter, the pastor and other priests seem to adhere to the directions of
the liturgy specialist.
The liturgy director is in charge of the celebration of all the rituals that take
place in the parish, Infant Baptism, Marriage, Reconciliation, First Communion,
Confirmation, Sacrament of the Sick, Ordinations, Funerals, Communion Services,
Liturgy of the Hours, and other prayer services and devotions. In St. Justin parish, the
DRE (female) has the responsibility of preparing the children for Baptism,
Confirmation, and Eucharist. In addition to that, she supervises the Family Liturgy

212
Program that focuses on liturgical celebration for children. In St. Francis, the
responsibility for the above ritual celebrations is taken by lay volunteers under the
leadership of the pastoral assistant. The full-time liturgy specialist in St. Benedict has
the responsibility for all the ritual celebrations. She meets with special groups for
planning and celebration. For example, she meets with couples several months before
their wedding and prepares them for the celebration of the Sacrament of Marriage.
The preparation involves a brief discussion about the spirituality of marriage,
selection of appropriate readings from the Scriptures and hymns, and cultural
adaptations, such as pews and unity candles. When there is a funeral in the parish, she
meets with the families of the deceased and helps them plan a funeral service that will
bring peace to the minds of those who suffer the loss of a loved one.
The liturgy director has to be skilled in team work The manifold celebrations
of sacraments in the parish demand that the liturgical director be accommodative and
collaborative. The liturgist in St. Benedict works in close collaboration with the RCIA
director and DRE for the celebration of RCIA rites (adults and children), Infant
Baptism, First Reconciliation, First Communion, and Confirmation. Sometimes the
liturgist acts also as a resource person to RCIA and religious education directors in
the preparation of the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist for
children and adults. Besides, the liturgist is expected to inform and implement the
New Rites of the Catholic Church as they would be periodically reviewed by the

213
Official Church and recommend ongoing seminars to the priests and other specialists
about New Rituals and liturgical documents.
The liturgy specialist is also the head of the liturgical committee in the parish.
The liturgical committee consists of six to ten members of the parish appointed by the
pastor. The four parishes of our survey each have liturgical committees and each is
composed of males and females. At St. Thomas it is called the parish worship
committee. The liturgy committees at St. Thomas, St. Justin, and St. Francis are
headed by lay volunteers. The liturgical director in St. Benedict is the head of the
liturgical committee.
In collaboration with the liturgy committee, the director recruits and trains all
the liturgical servers such as lectors (readers), altar servers, Eucharistic ministers, and
hospitality persons (ushers). The lector is in charge of the Scripture readings in the
Eucharist Mass. On Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, there are three readings:
the first from the Old Testament, the second usually from one of the letters of St.Paul
or other apostolic writings, and the third from one of the four Gospels. The lector,
either a male or a female, stands in front of the congregation and reads the Scriptures
as designated in the reading book.
Until recently only males were the altar servers, but now altar servers can also
be female after the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments
issued a letter on March 15, 1994, allowing female altar servers. Altar servers stand
near the altar and assist the priest presiding at the Mass and other ritual celebrations.

214
The Eucharistic ministers, male and female, assist the priest in distributing Holy
Communion to the people. In some parishes the Eucharistic ministers take Holy
Communion to the sick in hospitals and nursing homes. The hospitality persons, also
called ushers, welcome those who come to the church, collect the money baskets, and
say goodbye or good day at the exit.
The liturgy director has the obligation of offering needed educational, spiritual,
and social support to these liturgical ministers. The liturgist in St. Benedict parish
gives periodic training sessions (three times a year) for these ministers, and holds an
annual liturgical minister’s gathering to foster team spirit among them.
The liturgy specialist in St. Benedict shares in some administrative
responsibilities in the parish. The priests’ Mass schedule and parish/hospital beeper
coverage schedule are coordinated by the liturgist. St. Thomas priests also have a
beeper coverage system, but the schedule of the coverage is coordinated by one of the
priests. St. Justin and St. Francis parishes cover their parishes in the traditional ways:
those who need the services of the priests would telephone the office. Other functions
of the liturgy director are 1) to prepare an annual budget and submit it to the pastor,
2) to purchase liturgical materials, including wine, hosts, and candles, 3) to direct and
supervise sacristy personnel, and 4) to interview and hire liturgical personnel, such
as sacristans.
The tasks of the liturgist in general extend beyond the needs of their own
parishes. For example, the liturgy specialist in St. Benedict parish is an active member

215
in the liturgical commission at the Diocesan level. The Diocesan Liturgical
Commission profits from her expertise in planning and preparing for the liturgical
celebrations at the diocesan level. The parish of St. Benedict has adopted St. James
Catholic parish in the State of Chiapas, Mexico, as a sister parish. The parishioners
of St. Benedict help the members of St.James parish with money, medicine, and
services. Each year volunteers, especially medical professionals, are organized to go
to Chiapas and help the people with medical treatments. The liturgist in St. Benedict
coordinates the mission trips to Mexico that take place during the summer months.
National studies indicate that the liturgists are mostly involved in the area of their
expertise such as planning, and training. Our study finds that the liturgy specialist’s
involvement in the parish goes beyond the boundaries of, in this case, her specialist
area into administration and coordination of several parish-related activities.
Spirituality Specialist
My survey indicated that there is only one parish in our survey that has a
specialist in spirituality. In the other three parishes spiritual programs are under the
responsibility of the priests. In St. Benedict parish a female, full-time lay specialist
is in charge of parish spirituality programs. She holds a master’s degree in theological
studies and another master’s degree in Christian spirituality. She has been working
in the parish as a specialist for the past eight years. National surveys do not indicate
the existence of this position in the Catholic parishes because the spiritual domain in
the parishes has traditionally been under the authority of the priests. When the

216
parishioners had any kind of spiritual problems, they approached the priests, either
for the Sacrament of Confession or spiritual direction, or a combination of both.
Priests periodically arranged spiritual retreats for their parishioners. They encouraged
their members to engage in spiritual activities, such as group prayers, spiritual
readings, and reaching out to others in need. However, a formal lay position as a
spirituality specialist has made a shift in the spiritual activities of the parish. Though
the priests continue to give spiritual direction to those who choose to go to them, they
are not directly in charge of the parish spiritual programs. A full-time lay specialist
plans, trains, and directs the spiritual programs of the parish. The priests make
referrals to the specialists in the events where they decide to have the input of the
specialist. In this section I describe the tasks that are performed by the specialist in
spirituality.
From my one-on-one interview with this specialist I have learned that the
greater part of her time has been spent in spiritual direction of various individuals.
When I asked her to speak about the nature of problems addressed in the spiritual
direction she said, “People come with different kinds of problems that disturb their
regular life. They are related to their religious beliefs such as ‘how to grow in my
faith,’ and religious sentiments such as T feel that I am afraid of God,’ and human
problems such as health, divorce, relational disruption, career change, and stress.”
Whatever the nature of the individual problems, the specialist said that she tries to
bring a spiritual dimension into the life of the individuals. The specialist meets the

217
individuals by appointments mostly in the evenings because it is the convenient time
for those who work during the day. However, she helps walk-in parishioners who
seek advice on an emergency basis.
One other significant task of this specialist is to be a retreat consultant and
retreat director for the parishioners. I observed in the parish that individual and small
group retreats are common practices, especially in the weekends and Christmas and
summer holidays. Such retreats last two to three days, with planned activities that
include meeting and talking to the specialists about their individual problems, reading
the Bible, and spending more time in prayers either at home or in the church. My
interview with those who had participated in such a retreat showed that they liked it
because it gave them a break from their regular busy way of life. They do not have
to travel to the diocesan or regional retreat centers and spend time away from their
families.
The specialist in spirituality at St. Benedict’s has several other tasks. She
coordinates and facilitates various small groups such as spiritual growth groups,
centering prayer groups, film and video discussion group on spirituality and prayer
and the Catholic graduate student association. She is one of the representatives of the
Campus Ministry Cooperative that meets once a week to share and discuss the
common interest and issues related to the campus ministry in the community. She
functions as an active liaison to the Christian Ministry Task Force, a group that
encourages local volunteer opportunities for the parishioners. And she represents the

218
staff in the Florida Catholic Campus Ministers Association and the National Catholic
Campus Ministers Association.
In an ideal 40-hour work week, the specialist said that her schedule would be
68% (27.2 hrs) of her time spent in spiritual direction and retreat directed in the
office; 13% (5.2 hrs) of her time seems to go in the administrative work such as
attending weekly pastoral staff meetings, planning and scheduling meetings with the
parishioners; 7% (2.8 hrs) of her time is spent for the professional meetings in
Campus Ministry Cooperation, Florida Catholic Campus Ministers, and Campus
Ministers Association, and about 12% (4.8 hrs) of her time is spent reading books,
journals, and professional newsletters, and preparing for retreats and group meetings.
During my interview she said that the combination of programs changes from year to
year and she seems to enjoy that flexibility. She can develop new programs to meet
the needs of the parish at particular periods of time.
Religious Education Specialist
A religious education specialist is traditionally called a director of religious
education (DRE). National studies indicate that it is one of the longest tenured
positions in the Catholic parishes. The parishes that had religious sisters or brothers
employed them as DREs. However, when the number of religious sisters and brothers
declined, pastors employed qualified lay people who were in most cases their own
parishioners. There are four female religious education lay specialists in our survey
area. They are full-time employees in their own respective parishes. They differ in

219
their education and the tasks they perform in their parishes. Two out of four have a
bachelor’s degree in education and teacher training. All of them have some
background in theology obtained either from a theological school or through the
diocesan ministry program. In this section I describe the common nature of their tasks
and then indicate how the tasks differ in the three types of parishes.
The common tasks for the religious education specialists in our area are 1)
planning curriculum, 2) recruiting, training, coordinating, and supervising volunteers
from the parish to help in the programs, 3) purchasing needed materials such as texts
for religious education classes, and 4) preparing the children for the sacraments:
Infant Baptism, First Confession, First Communion, and Confirmation.
The tasks that differ relate to the type of parish. In the traditional Type One
parish, the religious education specialist works in the environment of an interparish
school. The term “interparish school” signifies that the school belongs to the four
Catholic parishes in the community. It is a combined primary and middle school that
has students from the area Catholic parishes. The school has a separate DRE to take
care of the school religious educational programs. However, the parish religious
education specialist is expected to be a resource person to the Interparish school
religious program and to work in close collaboration with the principal of the school
in matters that are related to the sacramental preparations of the students. Unlike the
specialists in Type Two and Type Three parishes, the specialist in a Type One parish

220
is responsible for conducting a one-week vacation Bible school to give children basic
knowledge of Sacred Scripture.
In the transformed Type Three parish, the specialist is in charge of RCIC
(Rites of Christian Initiation for Children), also known as the Children’s
Catechumenate Program. This program is designed for the children who were not
baptized when they were infants. The specialist recruits and trains volunteers to carry
out this program. The specialist in this parish develops also an adult education
program in collaboration with the specialists in other areas of the parish. The adult
education program addresses Christian faith and moral issues of the parishioners.
Traditionally this program has been under the direct supervision and direction of the
priests. This shift certainly marks a change in direction and supervision in the adult
education program.
In the transitional Type Two parish, the religious education specialist has the
additional tasks of coordinating RCIA (Rites of Christian Initiation of Adults) and
adult education program. The specialist also is responsible for the family liturgy
program. This program is focused on improving the children’s participation in the
Mass and other sacraments.
There is no uniform set of tasks for the specialists in religious education in our
survey parishes. Though they have several common tasks, the variation in the number
and the nature of their assignments seems to depend very much on the needs of the
individual parish and pastor.

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Marriage and Family Specialist
Traditionally the pastors and the associate priests have been the specialists for
marriage and family issues in the Catholic parishes. They met with the couples and
instructed them on the Sacrament of Marriage and celebrated the marriage at the altar.
If some relational problems were to rise between the couples after the marriage, the
priests were approached as mediators to settle the problems. However, a shift is
occurring in matters related to marriage and family. The specialists in marriage and
family issues are hired as full-time or part-time employees in the parishes. These
specialists perform about 80% of the tasks that used to be done by the priests. I
discuss later in this chapter the possible reasons for this shift. In this section I describe
the nature of the tasks performed by the lay specialists.
In our survey area, three parishes have lay specialists in marriage and family
ministry. Once again, I did not find uniformity in their educational background or in
tasks assigned to them. The specialist in the traditional Type One parish is a married
female, with no formal education in marriage and family issues. She has been trained
by the parish priests, and has 15 years experience. Her task consists primarily of
meeting with the couples first, answering their questions regarding the Sacrament of
Marriage, and scheduling them to meet with the priests in the parish. In practice this
means that before a couple goes to meet with the priests for instructions, they know
from the specialist what is required in the Church for the Sacrament of Marriage. In
Type Two and Type Three parishes, the specialists in marriage and family are the

222
husband and wife who work 20 hours per week in one of the Type Two parishs and
30 hours per week in the Type Three parish. The following description of the tasks
pertains to the same couple who work as specialists in two parishes. Each one has a
master’s degree in marriage and family therapy.
The tasks of the specialists in marriage and family can be divided into two
sections, administrative and developmental. First I describe how the lay specialists are
involved at the administrative level. Administrative work in marriage and family
involves the documentation of marriage preparation papers, such as Baptism
certificates, Confirmation certificates, letters of freedom to marry, and dispensation
if the couples belong to different faith traditions. The specialists collect these
documents from the couple to be married and file them. It is also the responsibility
of the lay specialists to deal with the annulment documentation. They assist the
priests in the preparation and process of annulments. This process usually takes about
six to eight months to work through the Diocesan Marriage Tribunal. In cases where
the engaged couple decide to get married in another place, the specialists contact the
pastor of the particular parish and send him the required documents ahead for the
celebration of the sacrament.
The specialists in marriage and family have several developmental tasks in the
parish. Developmental tasks are all kinds of activities which help the engaged couples
to understand the nature of committed relationships involved in marriage and dignity
of the family. The lay specialists engage in such activities in the following ways.

223
They administer premarital assessment instruments such as FOCCUS (Facilitating
Open Couple Communication, Understanding, and Study), which is intended to
inform the couple of the strengths and weaknesses in various areas of their personal
relationships. The specialists provide counseling review sessions to the engaged
couple immediately after the FOCCUS. The specialists determine the number of
review sessions depending on the nature of problems identified through FOCCUS.
The marriage and family specialists form network relations in the process of
preparing couples for the sacramental celebration of marriage. For example, “Journey
Couple” is a program designed by the lay specialists to foster network relationships
between the couples and the parishioners. According to this program, the specialists
assign a married couple from the parish to each engaged couple to pray for the
engaged couple during the preparation period and after the wedding. The assignees
are called the “Journey Couple,” which connotes that they journey with the engaged
couples through their prayers and good wishes. These journey couples are recruited
from the parish and trained by the specialists. Likewise, the “Sponsor Couple” is
another program that promotes interactions among the parishioners. The specialists
call for volunteers and train them to help the engaged couples for the Sacrament of
Marriage. The sponsor couples share their married life experiences with the engaged
couples and encourage them to develop positive attitudes towards married life.
Apart from the tasks related to the Sacrament of Marriage, the lay specialists
perform other tasks, such as providing needed counseling for individuals, couples, and

224
families on issues related to marriage and family. They encourage the parish couples
to attend the Marriage Encounter Program conducted at the regional or diocesan level.
This program is aimed at improving the communication skills of the married couples.
The specialists make referrals to local counselors when they perceive the need for
intense specialized counseling, for example, if there appears to be a need for clinical
counseling. They provide occasional mini-marriage enrichment retreats for the
parishioners. They deliver talks to RCIA, MOMS (a support group for the mothers of
teen age children) and youth groups. In a transitional Type Two parish, the specialists
also train volunteer couples to co-lead the Sacrament of Baptism preparation program.
This work is performed in Type Three parish by the specialist in religious education.
Music Specialist
Specialists in music have been part of the parish staff in almost all Catholic
parishes. Some of them had professional training in music and several others earned
the title by their experiences. In several parishes the roles of the liturgy specialist and
the music specialist tend to overlap because their activities are related to the same
ritual celebration of the sacraments in the parish churches. National studies indicate
that the specialists in music are involved also in several activities such as Liturgy
planning and coordinating the liturgical ministers. However, in the survey parishes,
I found four music specialists who are involved in tasks that pertain to their
specialization, namely to parish music and music-related organizational activities.
Although we find uniformity of activities among our area music specialists, their

225
educational backgrounds vary. Of the four music specialists, two are males and two
are females. Two of them hold graduate degrees in music; of the other two, one has
undergraduate degree, and the other is attending school working towards a degree. In
this section I describe the kind of tasks that they are performing in their parishes.
The parish ritual celebrations have gone through many changes within the past
30 years. In the past the priest was the center of the celebrations and the parishioners
simply watched what was going on. However, since the Second Vatican Council
importance has been given to the active participation of the people in the celebrations.
People are encouraged to sing the songs and the responses that are part of the ritual
celebrations. Community singing in the spirit of prayer was presented to the people
as the expression of their faith (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No: 1158) and the
role of the music specialist who leads the people is of paramount importance.
In our survey parishes, the principle goal of the music specialists is to foster
a prayerful and singing assembly through ritual celebrations, especially the Sunday
Masses. The assembly gathered for Sunday Masses is encouraged to sing by the
leading choir group that usually consists of 5 to 20 parishioners. One of the primary
tasks of the music specialists is to recruit volunteers to join the choir groups and train
them weekly before the Sunday Masses. To my surprise, I found that the four
specialists have formed many choir groups in their respective parishes, so that they
can lead each Sunday Mass with a different choir group. The music specialist in a
Type Three parish has six different choir groups to lead the six different gathering of

226
people in the Masses. In any given weekend 17 Sunday Masses are celebrated in our
survey area. This would mean that there are 17 voluntary choir groups that lead the
assembly into singing in the Masses on Sundays. In my one-on-one interviews with
the music specialists I learned about the problems they run into recruiting and training
these volunteers. In the transformed Type Three parish, the University parish of St.
Benedict, sustaining regular choir groups is the difficult problem because of the
fluctuation of the parish population. The students complete their studies and leave the
parish; the professors move out of the parish due to change of place of career.
Students and faculty go out of town during summer vacations. These constant moves
present serious challenges to the specialist who wants to maintain regular choir
groups to lead the singing. As I have observed in this Type Three parish, when there
is no choir group available, someone performs the cantor role (lead the people in
singing) in the Mass. This often happens in the Vigil Mass on Saturdays. The same
turnover problems are seen in other parishes, but not so acutely as in the university
parish.
Besides the Sunday Masses, the music specialists have the responsibilities for
providing music and choir for several other ritual celebrations, such as weddings,
common reconciliation services, and funerals. They plan the ritual music with the
liturgy specialists or with the parish worship committee. Thus they coordinate the
theme and selection of songs with the Scripture readings and general spirit of the
season such as Advent/Christmas and Lent/Easter. The ritual celebrations of weddings

227
or funerals in the parish necessitate interactions between the music specialist and the
family members. The specialists meet with the families and discuss the selection of
appropriate songs and music that suit the celebration. The music specialists are often
seen in community gatherings because of the nature of their tasks. They are present
in the church every time the community gathers for worship, which happens every
weekend and the days of special ritual celebrations. Because of the importance of
music in the liturgy and the importance of people’s active participation in the rituals,
the tasks of music specialists are considered to be very important to the parish.
Youth Specialist
Youth specialists, as the name implies, work with one segment of the parish
community, namely the youth of the parish, which includes the college, high school,
and middle school students. They are, in general, involved in the religious and social
programs for the youth. There are four youth specialists in our survey parishes: two
males and two females. Their educational background varies: one of them is working
on a graduate degree; two are certified youth religious educators; one of them has
some college education with several years of work experience in the parish. Their
tasks differ according to the demographics of the parishes. However, I will describe
first the tasks that seem similar and then indicate the difference.
The similarity of tasks among the youth specialists is based on the perceived
need of helping the youth in their Christian formation. As I discussed in Chapter 3 on
human problems, teenagers are challenged by sociocultural forces which are often

228
believed to leave indelible marks on them. Youth specialists devise programs, which
have social and spiritual dimensions, and invite the teenagers to participate in groups.
In groups the students discuss their life experiences and find ways and means to relate
their experiences to Christian teachings. The youth specialists often play the roles of
mediator in discussions and a guide to the Christian teachings.
The specialists oversee all aspects of youth programs, such as planning social
activities, supplying materials for reading, and discussion. Like the specialists in other
areas, youth specialists have volunteers to assist in the work. Usually volunteers are
recruited and trained by the specialists. The dynamics of recruiting and training the
volunteers are important in the youth work. One area parish has a youth program
called Alpha, which is designed to help college-age students. They meet once a month
for social activities and group discussions. Two special activities are the retreats held
twice a year, in the fall and spring semesters. The retreat usually takes place in a
camp about 40 miles away from the parish. One priest from the parish is the spiritual
director, but the volunteers who are also college-age students, play vital roles in the
multiple activities of the retreat. They transport the participants and their belongings
to the camp. They buy provisions, plan and cook the meals. They clean the places.
They arrange for the sacramental celebration of Mass and Confession. They entertain
the retreatants with social programs such as music and games. In brief, the volunteers
stay with the participants all through the retreat and help them in several ways.

229
My observations indicate that these volunteers enjoy helping the retreat
participants. When I interviewed some volunteers, one said, “I did the retreat last year
and went through conversion experience. And I want to do something for others. So
I volunteered this year to help the students who make the retreat.” Most volunteers
who work as helpers or retreat leaders were once retreat participants who have
experienced some conversion experience in the retreat. Volunteers emerge each year
from this youth group as a result of their personal spiritual experiences.
The difference in the activities of the youth specialists depends on what the
pastors want them to do in their parishes. In one of our area parishes, the youth
specialist is also in charge of Pax Christi, a Catholic peace and justice organization
that primarily focuses on vital issues in the local as well as in the international
community. In two of our survey parishes, responsibility for preparing teenagers for
the Sacrament of Confirmation is assigned to the youth specialists. The dimension of
Christian formation of the youth is said to justify placing this task within the area of
youth specialists. They obtain the help of others such as the religious education and
liturgy specialists to complete this particular task
RCIA Specialist
RCIA denotes the process of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. The
process consists of four phases: inquiry, catechumenate, enlightenment, and
mystagogia (mystery, a Greek term). The goal of the whole process is to assist the
participants to conversion and to initiate them into the Catholic Church, a relatively

230
new approach in the Church. All four survey parishes have RCIA programs. In three
parishes the lay specialists run the program and in one the priests are responsible. Of
the three lay specialists, only one is directly involved in the RCIA; and the other two
have integrated this program into their areas of specialization, religious education and
liturgy. Like the others, the RCIA specialist’s educational level and tasks differ from
parish to parish. As mentioned earlier, there is only one full-time, directly involved
lay specialist in the survey area. This specialist is a female, married with adult
children. She is a full-time ophthalmologist and a full-time RCIA specialist. She has
been a member of the parish for 25 years. She began parish work as a Eucharistic
minister, then became a lector, and eventually, volunteered to sponsor a person in
RCIA. In the absence of the then RCIA specialist, she managed the program,
becoming deeply interested. Now she is the specialist in RCIA in the parish with a
host of volunteers as sponsors and catechists. She has completed the ministry program
courses and a special course on the role of RCIA directors. Near the end of the study
she was attending summer courses in theology and church history at one of the
Catholic universities.
The lay specialists’ tasks in the RCIA process can be broken into four phases,
all of which depend a great deal on the help of the volunteers who form a parish team
to carry them out.
The first phase of the process is called Inquiry or pre-Catechumenate. The lay
specialist welcomes the individuals who seek to know more about the Catholic beliefs

231
and practices. These individuals come from different backgrounds: some have never
been baptized; some have no acquaintance with the Church; some are baptized into
another denomination; some were baptized as infants but never had religious
education. All these individuals are received with warm hospitality and given
opportunities to ask their questions and tell their personal stories in informal settings.
The lay specialist and the parish team coordinate the settings and invite the priest,
some lay specialists, and some parishioners to come and share their personal
experiences. The enquiry phase is said to last for months or even years depending on
the individual’s needs. Those enquirers who are ready to proceed to the next phase
are helped to discern their readiness and are received officially in the assembly of the
parishioners by a ritual called the Rite of Entrance to the Catechumenate. One of the
priests performs the ritual during a Sunday Mass in the presence of the parish
community.
In the second phase the enquirers are called the “catechumens,” which denotes
the transition from the state of enquiry to a state of experience as Christians, even
though they are not full members of the Church. They join the parishioners at each
Sunday Mass to listen to the Scripture readings and the homily. After the homily, they
are formally dismissed from the assembly to study the Scriptures through group
discussion and prayer. The lay specialist and the volunteers (called “catechists”) help
the catechumens to apply the Scriptural knowledge in their personal life. One
important task of the lay specialist at this phase is to call for volunteers from the

232
parish to be sponsors to the catechumens, and to assign a volunteer to each
catechumen. The RCIA seems to stress the importance of the role of sponsors as
companions, guides, and models of Christian life to the catechumens. They are
considered to be vital links between the catechumens and the parish community. They
pray and share their personal faith stories with the catechumens and invite them to the
parish social activities. The duration of this phase is again determined by the needs
of the catechumens. Those who find themselves ready go on to the third phase called
“Enlightenment.”
The catechumens are next admitted into the third phase by the “Rite of
Election.” This phase is designed to take place within the forty days of the Lenten
season and the ritual is performed by the diocesan bishop. On the first Sunday of Lent
the catechumens from each parish gather in the Cathedral Church accompanied by the
lay specialists, sponsors, and godparents. The bishop calls the catechumens by their
names and officially invites them to enter the Church through the Easter sacraments
of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist). From this moment on, those
who are to be initiated are called the “elect.” This phase, as it is known from its title,
marks the period of spiritual purification and enlightenment. In order to express the
penitential dimension of the season of Lent, the parish at this phase performs other
rituals with the catechumens. The rituals, called “scrutinies,” are celebrated in the
Masses of the third, fourth, and fifth Sundays of Lent. The rituals consist of prayers
of healing offered in the name of the community, so that the elect will have the

233
strength to fight against evil and remain pure as they move toward the Sacraments of
Initiation. The final preparation for Initiation is celebrated during the last three days
of Holy Week, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. On Holy Thursday,
the elect are reminded of their Christian service by special rituals such as the washing
of the feet that re-enacts Jesus’ washing the feet of his disciples. On Good Friday, the
elect meditate with the parish community on the death and sufferings of Jesus, as the
rituals call for conversion and purification experience. On Holy Saturday, the night
of Easter Vigil, the elect are baptized, confirmed, and given the Eucharist in the
assembly of the parishioners by the priests. Through these ritual celebrations the elect
become fully initiated Catholics. However, they are given continued support by the
parish community and this is marked by a fourth phase called “mystagogia.”
Mystagogia lasts the fifty days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost. It is believed
that in the early Church this was the period when the Christians explained the mystery
(meaning) of the Sacraments that the catechumens had received. During the Sundays
of Eastertime, the new Catholics share their experiences of conversion and faith with
the parish community. The lay specialist, the parish team, the sponsors, and the parish
community help and support the new Catholics through formal and informal social
gatherings. They encourage the new Catholics to meet once a month for a year
following Pentecost to support each other in their search for deeper faith and
continued conversion experience. The role of the RCIA specialist is crucial for the
completion of this process. Although the priests are involved in different phases, the

234
whole process of RCIA is planned, volunteers recruited, sponsors assigned, and the
plans executed by the lay specialists.
In this chapter I have given ethnographic descriptions of the different
specialized activities which the lay specialists carry out in the sample parishes. In the
coming chapter I pass from causes to consequences, and try to learn, via quantitative
data, whether these changes, these increases in the roles of the laity, have had any
measurable impact on the religious lives of the respondents.

CHAPTER 8
THE LAY SPECIALISTS AND THE PARISHIONERS
The preceding chapters described the specialized activities of the lay
specialists. Now the key question is as follows: Does the presence of these lay
specialists exert any impact on the religious Uves of parishioners? The purpose of this
chapter is to present data that address this important question. On examination of the
data, my answer to the question is: Yes, there is statistical evidence that the presence
of lay specialists in the sample parishes does exert an impact on the religious lives of
the parishioners.
My strategy for answering the question is described next. A simple measure
of interactions with lay specialists was computed for each respondent. This was
treated as the independent variable. Some respondents seek the services of the lay
specialist for personal or religious problems, and others do not. I then examined, as
the dependent variable, several aspects of the religious life of the respondents, such
as intensity of involvement in parish programs, adherence to different religious beliefs
and practices, and~“the bottom line”—level of financial contributions. My hypothesis
was: those that interact with lay specialists in the parish will also have higher scores
on these religious measures. They will be more involved in parish programs, they will
235

236
have stronger religious beliefs and more frequent involvement with traditional
religious practices, and they will contribute more to the parish.
I was looking for associations between and among variables. The causal
dynamics which underlie and produce these associations could be a matter for
discussion and perhaps dispute. But my intent here was, first, to see if there were any
associations about which to argue.
A theoretical framework underlies the choice of the dependent variables, but
one which derives less from social science than from the ideology of Vatican n. There
are two ideological points that were emphasized in the Second Vatican Council,
applicable not only to the lay specialists in the parishes but to every parishioner: 1)
the Mission of the Church belongs to every baptized person and 2) every baptized
person is called to Christian spirituality (believer’s response to God through
everything). It is in the light of these two propositions that I identified the two
domains that serve as the dependent variables: 1) the parishioners’ involvement in the
local church (parish) and 2) the parishioners’ adherence to their Christian spirituality
through their daily life (sociocultural and religious dimensions). The question of
financial contributions could conceptually be considered part of parish involvement.
But this is so important that I have given it separate treatment in the chapter. I tried
to determine, through analysis of survey data, whether the presence of lay specialists
impacts parishioners in these two areas of a) involvement in the parish and b)
influence on their personal Christian spirituality.

237
Independent Variable: Interaction with Lay Specialists
The study comprised only four Catholic parishes. For statistical purposes, one
cannot, therefore, use the parish as a unit of analysis. I used rather the individual
respondent as the unit of analysis, and compared the 1,293 respondents in terms of
whether they interacted with lay specialists or not.
Interaction with lay specialists was measured in that section of the
questionnaire that dealt with human problems. These were discussed in Chapter 3,
which presented an inventory of the familial, personal, and emotional problems
reported by respondents. However, I also had respondents say for each problem
reported, whether on that particular problem they sought the help of a lay specialist
or a priest.
On the basis of these data, I computed two indices: the first, an index of lay
specialist help, and the second, an index of priestly help. I created the priestly index
for comparative purposes, to examine whether people on the whole went more to the
lay specialists or the priests for their problems. Each index was created simply by
tallying the number of problems on which the individual ever sought help from the
lay specialist or the priest (depending on the index). Only 201 of the 1,293
respondents (16%) sought the help of a lay specialist at least once. (Of these, two out
of three sought help more than once from a lay specialist.) In contrast, 344
respondents (27%) sought out the help of a priest at least once on one of the human
problems.

238
TABLE 46
Tendency to Seek Help from Lay Specialists, by Parish
Did person seek help from lay specialists?
Parish
Yes
No
Total
St. Thomas
25
178
203
(%)
12.32
87.68
St. Justin
37
356
393
(%)
9.41
90.59
St. Francis
47
246
293
(%)
16.04
83.96
St. Benedict
92
312
404
(%)
22.77
77.23
Total
201
1,092
1,293
Chi-Square PO.OOl
Two things became clear from this simple tally. First, the vast majority of these
Catholics never seek help from their parish on personal human problems. Second,
when help is sought, there is still a greater traditionalist tendency to go to the priest
rather than to the lay specialist. Nonetheless, the number of respondents who went
either to priests or lay specialists was sufficiently high to permit statistical analysis
of the possible impact of these interactions on their religious lives.
As could have been predicted, the four parishes differ substantially on the
independent variable. As shown in Table 46, in all four parishes, those who seek help

239
TABLE 47
Tendency to Seek Help from Priests, by Parish
Did person seek help of a priest?
Parish
Yes
No
Total
St. Thomas
58
145
203
(%)
28.57
71.43
St. Justin
80
313
393
(%)
20.36
79.64
St. Francis
64
229
293
(%)
21.84
78.16
St. Benedict
142
272
404
(%)
35.15
64.85
Total
344
949
1,293
Chi-Square PO.OOl
from lay specialists are a minority. But in St. Benedict parish, the minority is
substantially and significantly larger than in the other parishes. In St. Justin, the
tendency is weakest.
For comparative purposes, I generated a similar table on the tendency to seek
help from the priest. The breakdown by parish on this variable is given in Table 47.
The results are quite similar to those of the preceding table. The parishioners are
significantly more inclined to seek help from priests than lay specialists. Even in St.
Benedict parish there are more people that seek help from a priest than from a lay

240
specialist. That is, the new does not drive out the old. The tendency to seek help from
lay specialists does not diminish the tendency to seek out help from priests as well.
Do these tendencies vary by age? I suspected that the tendency to seek help
from lay specialists would be stronger among the young. This hypothesis was
partially borne out. Whereas some 18% of those under 35 years old sought the help
of a lay person, only 9% of those over 55 years old did so, a statistically significant
difference. (Contrary to our expectations, the middle age group, those from 35-54,
were identical with the younger group.) I also examined for gender differences in this
tendency to seek help from laity, but found none of significance: 14% of the males
and 16% of the females sought such help, a difference too small to reach statistical
significance. Similar age and gender patterns emerged with respect to the tendency
to seek help from priests as well. Surprisingly, the older group, which was the
minority in seeking help from the lay specialists, was also weakest in their tendency
to seek help from priests as well.
To sum up: I used as my independent variable the question of whether the
individual sought help from a lay specialist or not for human problems. I computed
a measure of seeking priestly help as well for purposes of comparison and control,
which is discussed below. I now turn to discussion of the dependent variables.
Domain I; Parishioners’ Involvement in Parishes
In Catholic tradition the parish is the center of all spiritual and social activities.
It serves as an anchor for individual and collective involvement. It is the “local

241
church” that represents the Universal Church. The mission of the Church is ultimately
carried out through the local churches, the parishes. Therefore, the parishioners’
involvement in the mission of the Church, in practice, means that the parishioners
engage in parish programs or activities in the parishes. In this study, the term
“programs” refers to events that are directed principally by the lay specialists, and
“activities” refers to those that are led principally by lay volunteers.
To determine the degree of the parishioners’ involvement, I listed on the
questionnaire 14 items that include the parish programs such as sponsor couple, youth
group leader, Eucharistic minister, and lector that are under the directions of the lay
specialists. I asked the respondents to indicate whether they are involved in any of the
14 items by the following questions: 1)1 currently perform that role, 2) I have done
it in the past but not now, and 3) I have never performed that role. For analytical
purposes, I have collapsed the responses into three degrees of involvement: “None,”
“Light,” and “Heavy.”
As shown in Table 48, using this breakdown 354 respondents (28%) scored
heavy on parish involvement, 415 (32%) scored light, and 514 (40%) were not
involved. (This percentage of non-involvement may be skewed because I limited the
parish programs to those that are under the directions of the lay specialists. Several
other activities such as Pax Christi and Golden Girls that are led by volunteers were
not included in the survey.)

242
TABLE 48
Distribution of Laity’s Involvement in Parish
Parish
None
Light
Heavy
Total
St. Thomas
90
62
51
203
(%)
44.33
30.54
25.12
St. Justin
169
128
96
393
(%)
43.00
32.57
24.43
St. Francis
119
97
77
293
(%)
40.61
33.11
26.28
St. Benedict
136
128
140
404
<%)
33.66
31.68
34.65
Total
514
415
364
1293
Chi-Square 15.2, PO.OOl
I looked at these figures in Table 48 by parish. St. Thomas, St. Justin, and St.
Francis have equal percentages of parishioners’ involvement: about 42% not involved,
about 31% tightly involved, and about 25% heavily involved. In St. Benedict, which
has the highest number of lay specialists, the distribution differs: one in three is
heavily involved, one in three is tightly involved, and one in three is not involved.
In other words, two out of three in St. Benedict are involved in parish
programs. That is, the “transformed” parish with the heaviest involvement of lay
specialists is also the one in which the parishioners themselves are most actively
involved in parish activities. Table 48 is consistent with the assertion that the presence

243
of lay specialists leads to heavier parish involvement on the part of the parish
community.
In terms of positing causal processes, however, I could not claim a great impact
from the presence of lay specialists unless I also explored the operation of other
factors associated with heavier or lighter involvement in parish activities. One
possibility was the variable of gender. Is there gender bias in the degree of
involvement? The conventional wisdom states that women will be more involved than
men in religion. Table 49 presents gender and the degree of involvement.
Table 49 defies conventional wisdom. Statistically, the significant tendency is
for males to be more involved in the parishes than females. Of the 520 male
respondents, 63% are either lightly or heavily involved in their parishes. Among the
female respondents, 59% are involved in their parishes either lightly or heavily. And
TABLE 49
Distribution of Laity’s Involvement, by Gender
Gender
None
Light
Heavy
Total
Male
193
154
173
520
(%)
37.12
29.62
33.27
Female
313
259
190
762
(%)
41.08
33.99
24.93
Total
506
413
363
1,282
Chi-Square 10.6, PO.OOl

244
among those who are heavily involved, there are a higher percentage of males than
females. In the context of the preponderance of women attending church services,
these data on the preponderance of men involved in their parishes seem innovative.
Family duties may be the reason why women are less involved in programs than men.
Of those who indicated problems with children in the survey, 47.34% were women,
as compared to 40.46% men. More women are involved in raising and educating their
children. That seems to leave very little time for women who have young children to
get involved heavily in their parishes. At any rate there is at least a slight, statistically
significant tendency for men to be more actively involved in public parish activities
than women.
Another variable on which we could predict difference is that of age. Is
involvement equally distributed among the different age groups?
There is no statistical significance in Table 50, that is, no significant difference
in terms of involvement among the age groups. This could be explained by the fact
that there are different categories of programs for diverse age groups. For example,
those who are 55 and above are most likely to choose programs such as sponsor
couple, prayer couple, and parish committees. Those who are 35-54 are most likely
to be involved in the educational programs such as RCIA sponsor, retreat team
member, and education committee members. Those who are 18-34 are involved in
programs such as youth group leader and catechist. The programs for adults, such as

245
TABLE 50
Distribution of Involvement, by Age Groups
Age Group
None
Light
Heavy
Total
18-34
142
125
101
368
(%)
38.59
33.97
27.45
35-54
199
169
145
513
(%)
38.79
32.94
28.27
55+
162
111
113
386
(%)
42.0
28.8
29.2
Total
503
405
359
1,267
Eucharistic minister, altar server, choir member, and usher in the parishes that are
open to all the age groups.
In summary, the majority of our survey population is involved in the parish.
Among the four survey parishes, involvement is greatest in St. Benedict, where 65.2%
of the essential tasks are performed by lay specialists. In all parishes, more males than
females are involved in the parish. And the percentage of males heavily involved is
significantly higher than the females. There was no significant difference among age
groups. Each age group represents a more or less equal percentage of involvement.
Testing the Domain I Hypothesis
My goal was to see if higher scores on parish involvement are in any way
related to their scores on involvement with lay specialists. The null hypothesis was
that there will be no relationship. My hypothesis was that the stronger the presence

246
of lay specialists, either in the parish as a whole or in the personal life of the
parishioners, the stronger will be the involvement of the parishioners in parishes.
Table 51 shows that among those who seek help from lay specialists the percentage
of those heavily involved in the parish is double that of those who do not seek such
help. People get involved in the parish for various reasons. In their preliminary
interviews, they gave various reasons. Parish involvement makes them feel good.
Involvement by parents is a good example for their children. One Eucharistic minister
said, “When I distribute Communion to the people and my children watch me doing
it, I am giving good example to them. I hope one day they also will do like me.” Some
get involved in the parish to do something for their parish community. Others get
involved because the priests from the pulpit constantly tell them to do so.
Table 51 gives statistical support to the hypothesis. There is a significant
relationship between the tendency a person has to seek help from lay specialists on
TABLE 51
Seek Lay Specialists’ Help and Parish Involvement
Seek Help
None
Light
Heavy
Total
Yes
48
59
94
201
(%)
23.88
29.35
46.77
No
466
356
270
1,092
(%)
42.67
32.60
24.73
Total
514
415
364
1,293
Chi-Square 44.9, PO.OOl

247
human problems and the degree of that person’s involvement in other aspects of
parish programs.
It was not my purpose here, however, to identify such intentions. My purpose
was only to examine if there would be any relationship between those who seek lay
specialists’ help and their parish involvement. I found a significant relationship
between those who seek help and those who do not.
There was a potential analytic problem, however. Perhaps those who go to the
laity for help also go to priests for help. How could I ascertain whether the
involvement with lay specialists has any effect on parish involvement independent of
the effect of simultaneous involvement with priests? For comparison, I wanted to test
if there would be any difference between those who seek lay specialists’ help and the
priests’ help in terms of their parish involvement. Table 52 presents the distribution
of seeking the priests’ help and parish involvement. We note first that whereas 47%
of those who sought help from laity are heavily involved, only 39% of those who
sought help from priests are heavily involved. Both types of help seeking are
associated with heavier parish involvement, but the lay specialists’ help more so. A
similar pattern emerges on the category of no involvement in the parish. Of those
who indicate seeking help from the priests, 31.40% do not get involved in the parish
as opposed to 24% of those not involved and seeking help from the lay specialists.
This is to say, that those who go to priests for help tend to get less involved in the

248
TABLE 52
Seeking Priests’ Help and Laity’s Parish Involvement
Seek Help
None
Light
Heavy
Total
Yes
108
102
135
344
(%)
31.40
29.65
38.95
No
406
313
230
949
(%)
42.78
32.98
24.24
Total
514
415
364
1,293
Chi-Square 28.5, P<0.001
parish than those who go for help to the lay specialists. The data are consistent with
our hypotheses concerning the association between parish participation and
involvement with lay specialists.
But to further eliminate the possible effect of interaction with priests, I
subdivided the sample into four groups: 1) Those who sought help from both priests
and lay specialists, 2) Those who sought help only from the lay specialists, 3) Those
who sought help from only from the priests, and 4) Those who sought no help from
either. Table 53 presents the distribution results of the above categories tabulated by
strength of parish involvement.
Table 53 indicates in the first place that there is a strong association between
seeking help from the parish and degree of parish involvement. In the degree of parish
involvement, there is a difference of 26% between those who sought help (81%) from

249
TABLE 53
Seek Any Help and Parish Involvement
Seek Help
None
Light
Heavy
Total
Both
14
21
39
74
(%)
18.92
28.38
52.70
Only Lay Specialists
34
38
55
127
(%)
26.77
29.92
43.31
Only Priests
94
81
95
270
(%)
34.81
30.00
35.19
Neither
372
275
175
822
(%)
45.26
33.45
21.29
Total
514
415
364
1,293
Chi-Square 67.4, P<0.001
both (priests and lay specialists) and those who sought help (55%) from neither. On
the opposite side, the percentage of those who tend not to get involved in the parish
is less among those who seek help (18.92%) than those who do not seek help
(45.26%) from the parish. This is to say, that the more parishioners seek help from
the parish, the more they tend to get involved in the parish.
But Table 53 also shows something veiy important for my hypothesis. Looking
only at two subgroups-those who sought only priests for help and those who sought
only lay specialists for help—the latter are more heavily involved than the former. In

250
short, the hypothesis on the positive impact of lay specialists on the level of
involvement in parish activities was supported by the data.
Domain H; Parishioners’ Christian Spirituality
I now turn to the second domain of dependent variables: the personal religious
Uves of the respondents: their personal beliefs and their public and private religious
practices. I discussed in Chapter 4 the religious beliefs of our sample population in
terms of 1) core Catholic beliefs with regard to the spirit world, 2) ethical and moral
dimension, and 3) traditional Church practices. In Domain n, I explore whether there
is any indication of possible influence in their beliefs and practices because of the
interactions the parishioners have with the lay specialists on human problems. For
comparative depth, I also indicate the priests’ influence in the matters of parishioners’
beliefs and practices because of the interactions they have with the parishioners on
human problems.
In my analysis, I distinguish between a traditionalist orientation toward beliefs,
which accepts the official teachings of the Catholic Church, and an orientation that
questions or rejects these traditions, which for want of a better nonjudgmental term,
I call “mainstream” in recognition that such rejection corresponds to the dominant
ideologies found in the surrounding environment, whether among people of other
religions or people of no religion. My use of the terms “traditionalist” or
“mainstream” is not meant to be either critical or laudatory of either group. The terms

251
simply indicate that a person’s orientation on beliefs and practices is related to that
person’s interactions with lay specialists.
I examine if there are any statistically significant differences in the beliefs and
practices of the survey population because of the interactions with the lay specialists.
My hypothesis is that the greater the interaction with lay specialists, the stronger
would be adherence to traditional Catholic beliefs and practices.
Religious beliefs were examined under three categories: 1) core beliefs, 2)
ethical and moral beliefs, and 3) traditional practice beliefs. Likewise, the religious
practices were examined under three categories: 1) core Catholic practices, 2)
Catholic Sacramental practices, and 3) general Christian practices.
Core Beliefs
There are five items in the core beliefs: 1) the real presence of Jesus in the
Eucharist, 2) the virginal conception of Jesus, 3) the bodily resurrection of Jesus, 4)
life after death, and 5) the eternity of Hell. As I indicated in Chapter 4, there was
internal variety in the population on adherence to these beliefs. My hypothesis was
that greater interaction with the lay specialists would be correlated with greater
adherence to traditional belief.
The hypothesis was not borne out. With respect to the first four core beliefs,
I found no significant correlation between them and the degree of interaction with the
lay specialists (or priests) in the parish. As for the real presence of Jesus in the
Eucharist, one out of three respondents disagreed with the teachings of the Church,

252
preferring a formulation that reduced the presence to a symbolic presence. But there
was no relationship between this and involvement with lay specialists. With respect
to Jesus’s virginal conception, nine out of ten respondents accepted the traditional
position on the matter, as did more than eight out of ten respondents with respect to
beliefs in his bodily resurrection of Jesus. There was no impact on this belief by lay
specialist interactions.
With respect to one’s personal destiny after death, nine out of ten respondents
believed in the immortality of the soul after death, fully accepting traditional belief
in that regard. Where a discrepancy appeared was in the question of the eternity of
Hell, a central tenet of traditional Catholic doctrine. Here nearly half (47%) of the
respondents disagreed with traditional Catholic position on the matter. God is too
kind, in their view, to send people to an eternal Hell. And this divergence from
traditional teaching is significantly higher among those who have interacted only with
lay specialists and not interacted with priests than among those who have or have not
interacted with priests. It should be recalled that those who deny an eternal Hell for
the most part believe in an eternal soul, which implies a belief in guaranteed Heaven
(the alternative to Hell).
Ethical and Moral Beliefs
I listed six items in this category: a) premarital sex, b) extramarital sex, c)
divorce/annulment, d) contraceptives, e) homosexuality, and f) abortion. On the issue
of the sinfulness of premarital sex, 40% of the sample disagreed with the Church’s

253
position, stating instead that there are circumstances in which premarital sex is
acceptable. But of those who sought only lay specialists for help, nearly 50%
disagreed with the Church’s teaching, whereas only 38% of those who sought only
priests for help disagreed with the Church’s position. In terms of extramarital sex by
married people 98% of the population agreed with the Church teaching on that matter.
On the matter of divorce, fully 70% of the sample population disagreed with
traditional Church teaching on the matter, a stance independent of their involvement
with lay specialists. And on the issue of contraceptives, 82% disagreed with the
Church’s teaching on the matter. In this matter there is a significant correlation: the
more one interacts with lay specialists, the more likely is one to accept contraceptives.
On the issue of homosexuality, on which 30% disagree with the Church’s position,
the highest percentage of acceptance of homosexuality is found among those who
interact with lay specialists, though the differences are too small to reach statistical
significance. On the abortion issue, 21% of the respondents disagree with Church
prohibitions. But whereas 25% of those who interact only with lay specialists view
abortion as a woman’s right, only 14% of those who interact with priests hold this
view. In short, in these controversial ethical issues respondents’ interaction with lay
specialists rather than with priests is correlated with a higher level of departure from
Church teaching and higher level of acceptance of the mainstream positions found in
the surrounding environment.

254
Traditional Disciplinary Beliefs
There is one final category which I examined: two items concerning the
traditional practice of the Church: a) priestly celibacy and b) male priesthood. On the
subject of priestly celibacy, 58% of the respondents believe that the Church should
allow married priests. As is consistent with patterns discussed above, those interacting
exclusively with lay specialists are more heavily skewed to the mainstream position
against traditional Church discipline on this matter (66%), though the difference is not
statistically significant. On the subject of male priesthood, 51% of the sample
population want the Church to admit women to the priesthood, a stance shared
equally whether one interacted with lay specialists or priests.
To sum up: On matters of religious belief there are strongly consistent
associations, several of them statistically significant but all pointing in the same
direction, between interaction with lay specialists and departure from traditional
Church teaching. This was contrary to my original expectation. Whether it is the lay
specialist generating these beliefs, or whether people who already have non-
traditional beliefs seek the lay specialist, is a matter for separate discussion. In this
section I merely wished to document the associations.
Unlike the core beliefs and the ethical and moral beliefs, the survey population
differs from the national trend in the traditional practice beliefs in the Catholic
Church. In the national survey, 70% of the population favored retaining priestly
celibacy, whereas in my survey only 42% agreed on retaining priestly celibacy. A

255
majority, 58% favored allowing priests to marry. On the issue of priesthood, the
sample population seems equally divided: one-half of the respondents favored the
traditional male priesthood and the other half indicated that women should be
admitted to the priesthood In the national survey, about 58% favored women’s
ordination and about 34% favored the traditional male priesthood. The age of
“disagreement” concerning the traditional practices of retaining priestly celibacy and
the male priesthood in the survey population tends to be higher than the national
trends.
I now turn to a discussion of practice. I examine the religious practices under
three categories: 1) the core Catholic practices, 2) the Catholic sacramental practices,
and 3) the general Christian practices.
The Core Catholic Practices
Mass, Communion, and Confession are examined in the core practices. There
was no relationship between weekly Mass and Communion on the one hand and
interaction with either the lay specialists or the priests on the other. However, a
significant difference was noted in the practice of Confession. Of those who
interacted with the lay specialists, 43% indicated the use of Confession less than once
a year and 57% at least once a year. By comparison, the percentages indicated by
those who interacted with the priests are higher: 33% less than a year and 67% at least
once a year (PO.OOl). The higher percentages of the practices of Confession among
those who interact with the priests may indicate the opportunity available to them

256
when they choose to go to the priests for any spiritual help. But this pattern of
declining use of Confession associated with use of lay specialists is consistent with
similar patterns found in the beliefs.
The Catholic Sacramental Practices
The statistical differences are examined here in the following practices referred
to traditionally as sacramentáis (as distinct from the official Sacraments of the
Church): Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, Rosary, Stations of the Cross,
Novena, Fasting, Abstinence from meat, Liturgy of the Hours, and Spiritual Retreat.
I found a strong association between those who interacted and those who did not
interact either with the lay specialists or priests in the sacramental practices.
Attachment to these sacramentáis is higher among those who interact more with lay
specialists. For example, in the practice of praying the Rosary at least once a month,
the percentage of those who interacted with the lay specialists is 38.38% as opposed
to 28.07% of those who did not interact with the lay specialists. This 10% difference
is statistically significant. Likewise, in the practice of the Stations of the Cross at least
once a year, the percentage of those who interacted with the priests is 51.51% as
opposed to 42.67% of those who did not interact with the priests. The more
parishioners seek help from the pastoral staff (lay specialists or priests), the more they
tend to practice. This trend is seen in all Sacramental practices.
I found differences in all Sacramental practices, except the Novena and the
Liturgy of the Hours, in terms of interactions with either lay specialists or priests

257
TABLE 54
The Percentages of Parishioners’ Sacramental Practices and Interaction
Practice
Lay Specialists
Priests
At least once a year:
Benediction
48.69
42.90
Stations of the Cross
57.58
51.51
Novena
24.49
26.49
Fasting
70.35
67.37
Abstinence
87.44
86.61
Retreat
41.62
31.40
At least once a month:
Rosary
38.38
35.52
Liturgy of the Hours
0.09
12.00
Table 54 presents the percentage of sample parishioners involved in Sacramental
practices and interacted with the lay specialists or the priests. The differences in some
practices are more significant than in others. Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament,
Stations of the Cross, retreat, and Liturgy of the Hours indicate greater percentages
of difference in terms of parishioners’ interactions. Three out of four denote
interacting more with the lay specialists than the priests. The differences in the other
practices such as Novena, fasting, abstinence, and Rosary are not significant.
General Christian Practices
The objects of statistical study under this category are practices common not
only to Catholics but also to members of other Christian denominations: Grace at

258
meals, Bible reading, other spiritual reading, charismatic prayer meetings, centering
prayer, and personal reflection of God. As in the items of sacramental practices, I
found significant differences in the percentages between those who interacted and
those who did not interact with the pastoral staff. For example, of those who
interacted with the lay specialists, 60% did Bible reading at least once a month as
opposed to 33% who did not seek help from the lay specialists. That is, the more you
go to the lay specialist, the higher the likelihood that you will read the Bible regularly.
The causal relationship can be disputed, but the association is present.
In general my data reveal associations between adherence to general Christian
practices and the tendency to interact with the lay specialists. Table 55 presents the
differences. There is no difference between those who interact with the lay specialists
TABLE 55
Percentages of Parishioners’ Christian Practices and Interactions
Practice
Lay specialists
Priests
At least once a day
Grace at meals
48.74
46.71
Personal Reflection
56.85
56.46
At least once a month
Bible reading
60.41
51.20
Other spiritual reading
61.73
51.35
Charismatic Prayer
26.20
15.40
At least once a year
Centering Prayer
52.31
47.53

259
and those who interact with the priests in their daily Christian practices such as Grace
at meals and personal reflection of God However, we found significant differences
in the monthly and yearly Christian practices. Those who interacted with the lay
specialists demonstrated greater involvements in Bible reading, other spiritual
reading, charismatic prayer, and centering prayer than those who interacted with the
priests. These are fairly new practices for Catholics; they have become more frequent
since Vatican n.
To sum up, the frequency of Confession in the core Catholic practices seems
higher among those who interact with the priests rather than the lay specialists. The
frequency of Mass and Communion is the same whether the interaction was with the
lay specialists or the priests. In sacramental practices, there is a strong association
between higher frequency of sacramental practices and interactions with the pastoral
staff. And those who interacted with the lay specialists demonstrated greater
frequency in general Christian practices. If I had to sum up the impact of lay
specialists on matters of Catholic religious life, the following summary would be
compatible with the findings: They increase general participation in parish programs
(the “parish involvement” variables discussed earlier), they have a modest impact on
sacramental and liturgical practice (in the association with more infrequent
Confessions but more frequent adherence to practices such as Bible readings) and
they have a substantial impact on belief systems, in the direction of disagreement with
the Church’s teaching.

260
Lay Specialists and Parishioner’s Financial Contribution
What impact do lay specialists have on the financial “bottom line,” the amount
of money which the respondents contribute to their parishes? Catholic parishes are
totally maintained by the voluntary financial contributions of the parishioners. Sunday
Mass collection is the most popular method of obtaining money for the parish in the
United States. A few collection baskets or boxes are passed around the pews to those
attending Mass to make their voluntary contributions. It is usually done at a time
between the homily and the offertory by the ushers who collect the baskets and send
the money in one basket along with the bread and wine through some gift-bearers to
the altar. The priest, standing at the foot of the altar receives the gifts: bread, wine and
money. It has a symbolic meaning, that the gifts are participants’ contribution to God
in return for the many gifts they have received from God. Bread and wine are
consecrated in the Mass and made available for the participants as their spiritual food,
and money is used for the operation of the parish.
Parishioners contribute to their parishes for various reasons. In my preliminary
interviews, I asked them to state some of the reasons for giving financial contributions
to the parishes. The following are most commonly given reasons: “My income has
been good,” “I am satisfied with the services of the parish,” and “I am religiously
committed to my parish. ” I wanted to test if there would be any association between
parish financial contribution and lay specialists’ services in the parishes. Priests’
services are used for comparative purposes. The procedure to test such an association

261
TABLE 56
Respondents’ Mean Weekly Contribution
Parish
NObs
Mean
St. Thomas
203
$24
St. Benedict
404
$16
St. Justin
393
$20
St. Francis
293
$24
had a number of steps. I established the mean weekly contributions in the four sample
parishes. I assumed that the weekly contributions would reflect the income status of
the respondents in each parish. Then, I examined the mean weekly contributions of
those who sought the services of the lay specialists or the priest. This indicated the
difference, if any, between those who seek help and those who do not seek help. I
established the mean weekly income of the respondents and the help they seek from
lay specialists or priests. The purpose of this analysis was to indicate which income
category of respondents seek the services of the lay specialists. Table 56 represents
the mean weekly contributions in the survey parishes.
The table shows that three of the four parishes have more or less similar mean
weekly contributions in their parishes. The lowest mean weekly income in St.
Benedict may be because of the student population in the parish. It was confirmed by

262
TABLE 57
Distribution of Mean Weekly Contribution, by Type of Help Sought
Type of Help
N
Weekly Contribution
Only lay specialists
109
$27
Only Priests
244
$18
Sought Both
69
$25
Sought Neither
772
$25
checking the employment status of the respondents in each parish. The results
indicated that in each parish, about half of the respondents were employed full time.
But St. Benedict had the highest percentage of unemployed (28.86%). In comparison,
St. Thomas had 13%, St. Justin had 17%, and St. Francis had 16% unemployed.
Among the unemployed in St. Benedict, about 75% were which may explain the
reason for St. Benedict having the lowest mean weekly income.
After establishing the mean weekly contributions in our survey parishes, I
tested to see if there would be a significant difference in the weekly contributions
between those who seek lay specialists’ services and those who do not seek lay
specialists services. I tested the priests’ services as a tool to compare lay specialists’
services and weekly contributions. Table 57 presents the mean weekly contributions
of those who have sought the help of the lay specialists and priests.
The table suggests that those who go to lay specialists are more generous in
their giving or simply more wealthy. There is a highly significant difference between

263
those who seek services from the lay specialists and those who do not seek services
from the lay specialists in terms of their financial contributions. Those who seek
services from the lay specialists give significantly more than those who do not seek
services from them.
Interestingly, findings indicate that those who seek the priests’ services make
smaller financial contributions than those who do not seek services from the priests.
However, in order to avoid any misinterpretation of the data on lay specialists’
services and contributions, I hypothesized that wealthier people seek services from
the lay specialists. To test this hypothesis, first I employed four progressively more
affluent income categories and indicated the percentages of those seeking lay
specialists’ services and priests’ services. Then I placed the mean weekly
contributions of the respondents under each category of income in terms of seeking
services from the parish specialists. Table 58 presents the percentages of the income
categories seeking lay specialists’ services.
Table 58 indicates a surprising significant tendency for the extreme groups to
seek the services of the lay specialists: those with income of less than $25K, and
those with income of $75K or more. Of the other two categories in between, the
difference is not very significant. For comparative purposes, I asked if the same trend
would occur among those who seek the priests’ services.

264
TABLE 58
Income Categories and Seeking Lay Specialists’ Services
Income
Yes
No
Total
Less than $25K
77
315
392
(%)
19.64
80.36
$25K to 49K
43
340
383
(%)
11.23
88.77
$50K to 74K
39
223
262
(%)
14.89
85.11
$75K or more
38
181
219
(%)
17.35
82.65
Total
197
1059
1256
PO.01
Table 59 indicates that the trend in seeking the priests’ services is different
from the trend to seek help from lay specialists. There is a significant tendency for
those who seek the priests’ services to be in the lowest income bracket. Those whose
income is less than $25K seek the help of the priest is about 10% more than those
with an income of $75K or more.
Next I then examined the weekly contribution of these income categories in
terms of the services they sought from the parish specialists. Table 60 presents the
distribution of mean weekly contribution of the income bracket less than $25K.
Table 60, which includes only respondents who earn less than $25,000 per
year, indicates that those who seek services from the lay specialists contribute slightly

265
TABLE 59
Income Categories and Seeking Priests’ Services
Income
Yes
No
Total
Less than $25K
125
267
392
(%)
31.89
68.11
$25K to $49K
103
280
383
(%)
26.89
73.11
$50K to $74K
65
197
262
(%)
24.81
75.19
$75K or more
48
171
219
(%)
21.92
78.08
Total
341
915
1,256
P<0.01
less than those who do not seek lay specialists’ services, but the difference is not
significant. This means, statistically, both groups (those who seek and those who do
not seek services from the lay specialists’ services) contribute equally. That means
that the services of the lay specialists increased weekly contributions only in the other
TABLE 60
Mean Weekly Contribution of the Less than $25K Who Sought Help
Specialist
Help
NObs
Mean
Lay
Yes
81
$6
No
348
$7
Priest
Yes
128
$6
No
301
$7

266
income brackets. I tested this hypothesis. It is important to note that those who sought
the services of the priest within the income less than $25K contribute the same
amount as those who sought the services of the lay specialists. Among the least
affluent, the difference in contribution between those who seek the priests’ services
and those who do not seek the priests’ services is not significant.
Statistical analysis of the income brackets of $25K to $49K and $50K to $74K
did not indicate significant differences in contributions either between those who
sought lay specialists’ services and those who did not seek them, or between those
who sought priests’ services and those who did not seek them. However, I found a
very significant difference in contribution among the most affluent. Table 61 presents
the mean contribution of the very wealthy who sought services from the parish
specialists.
Table 61 demonstrates that controlling for income increases the importance of
lay specialists’ services in predicting contributions. The most affluent who seek out
TABLE 61
Mean Weekly Contribution of the Most Affluent Who Sought Help
Specialist
Help
NObs
Mean
Lay
Yes
38
$83
No
181
$45
Priest
Yes
48
$58
No
171
$49

267
services from the lay specialists contribute nearly twice as much ($83 per week) as
those who do not seek out lay specialists’ services ($45 per week). In seeking the
services of the priests, the weekly contribution is slightly more among those who seek
services than who do not, but the difference is not significant.
To sum up, from the analysis of the lay specialists and respondents’ financial
contributions to the parishes, I concluded that the services of the lay specialists could
be used to predict parish contributions. Those who seek their services tend to
contribute more than those who do not. Their services are significantly sought by
those with income less than $25K as well as those with income of $75K or more. The
most affluent who seek help from the lay specialists contribute nearly twice as much
as those who do not seek services from the lay specialists. The influence of lay
specialists’ services in parish contributions brings up another question: Do lay
specialists exert any other influence in the Christian life of the parishioners? I explore
this in the following section.
Lay Specialists as “Examples” for the Parishioners
The lay specialists are a subculture of the laity. They share a Ufe of experience,
like any other parishioners, in family, politics and community. And they share, by
their “baptismal vocation,” in the mission of the Church and Christian spirituality.
However, their specialization in some traditions of the Catholic Church, recognition
by the pastor and parishioners, and remuneration for their services in the parish
distinguish them as a subculture. Unlike the parishioners, the lay specialists’ social-

268
setting for their mission of the Church is the very parish where they are employed. In
this setting, the lay specialists by performing their assigned tasks, not only affirm their
status in the parish as “specialists” but also participate in the mission of the Church
locally in the parish. In the process of their work experience such as feeling stress,
anxiety, and pain, they respond to parishioners needs; and by responding to
parishioners’ needs, they respond to the Church’s call to share in Christian
spirituality. In this context, it was my assumption that the lay specialists who work
in the parish are examples for the parishioners who are encouraged to seek a greater
involvement in the mission of the Church, that is, locally in the parish, and to seek a
link between their daily life experiences and faith traditions (religious beliefs and
practices).
I received responses on the survey to test my assumption. The respondents
were given the statement that “Lay specialists in our parish demonstrate in a formal
way what all baptized persons are called to do by the Church, by virtue of their
Baptism,” and asked to choose one of the following: 1)1 am very convinced, 2) I am
somewhat convinced, 3) I am not convinced, and 4) I don’t know. I then examined
their responses in relation to the variables: parish, gender, age groups, marital status,
education, and Catholic education.
Respondents were given the following statement and some possible options to
choose: The need to make connection between my life experience and faith tradition
is: 1) very strong in my life; 2) strong in my life; 3) moderate in my life; 4) weak in

269
my life; and 5) absent in my life. Since the responses to the last two options were
insignificant, the total responses for the analysis were collapsed into the first three
options for tabular purposes. I examined the responses by the variables: parish,
gender, and age group. I also determined if there were any significant differences in
the responses because of the intermediating agents: lay specialists or priests or both.
The analysis follows.
When the responses were analyzed by parishes, there was a highly significant
tendency (PO.OOl) for parishes to differ in their response to the statement about lay
specialists as models. Collapsing the “very convinced” and “somewhat convinced”
I found that 69% of the respondents from St. Benedict stated their conviction that the
lay specialists are examples for their life. St. Thomas, at the other end, had indicated
the lowest percentage (45%) of conviction. The other two parishes had equal
percentages (St. Justin: 56% and St. Francis: 54%) of conviction about the lay
specialists. One might attribute the significant difference between St. Benedict and
St. Thomas to the function of age in these parishes. Therefore, controlling for age, I
found that in all parishes there appears to be a tendency for the post-Vatican II
generation (18-34 years) to have a smaller percentage of persons “very convinced”
about the lay specialists as examples. In the category of “somewhat convinced,” I
found significant difference between these two generations: in the pre-Vatican II
generation, it was 25.35% and in the post-Vatican II generation, it was 38.42%.

270
Analyzing the responses for gender, there was a general absence of correlation
between gender and response to the statement that the lay specialists are examples in
the parishes. Marital status in general had very little relationship with lay specialists
as examples. The “separated” and the “divorced” seem to indicate more conviction
about the lay specialists as examples than the never-married, married, and widowed.
Educational status showed better correlation with the responses than did
marital status. There is a significant difference in the “very convinced” between those
who have a doctorate and those whose education stopped at or before high school.
One out of three of those at the doctoral level indicated “very convinced” about the
lay specialists’ example, whereas, only one out of five of those at the high school
level indicated “very convinced.” Education seems to have a strong influence on one’s
conviction about lay specialists as examples in the parishes. However, there was a
difference with the level of Catholic education. Table 62 presents the number of
people and their mean Catholic educational level in terms of their attitude towards the
conviction.
TABLE 62
Catholic Educational Level and State of “Conviction”
Categories
N Obs
Mean
Do Not Know
396
4.9
Very Convinced
344
5.8
Somewhat Convinced
373
5.9
Not Convinced
120
6.5

271
The levels of Catholic education of the “very convinced” and “somewhat
convinced” are about the same. The 120 respondents who said “not convinced” have
the highest level of Catholic education. In other words, those who are convinced that
the lay specialists are examples in the parishes have less Catholic education than
those who are not convinced Unlike the influence of “education,” Catholic education
has not much influence on one’s attitude towards the conviction that lay specialists
are examples for the parishioners.
I now examine the second part of the assumption, namely the need to make
connection between one’s life experience and faith traditions, and the influence of the
lay specialists. Table 63 presents the distribution of percentages in each parish in
terms of the need to make connection between life experiences and faith traditions.
TABLE 63
Percentages: In Need to Make Connection between
Life and Faith, by Parish
Parish
Very Strong
Strong
Moderate
Total
St. Thomas
61
65
65
191
(%)
31.94
34.03
43.03
St. Benedict
140
136
117
393
(%)
35.62
34.61
29.77
St. Justin
128
132
115
375
(%)
34.13
35.20
30.67
St. Francis
80
90
107
277
(%)
28.88
32.49
38.63
Total
409
423
404
1,236

272
The data in Table 63 are grouped into three levels: very strong, strong, and
moderate need to make connection between one’s life experience and faith traditions.
There were five categories on the questionnaire, but they have been collapsed into the
above three levels for tabular purposes.
In general, parishes do not differ in the need to make connection between life
and faith. At each level there is an almost equal percentage of respondents who
express their need to experience God through connecting faith to their life
experiences. Are there differences by gender? Table 64 presents the distribution in
percentages of males and females who need to make connection between life and
faith traditions.
There is significant difference between male and female respondents who feel
the need to make connection between life and faith. In the category of “very strong,”
TABLE 64
Percentages: In Need to Make Connection
between Life and Faith, by Gender
Gender
Very Strong
Strong
Moderate
Total
Male
138
168
198
505
(%)
27.38
33.33
39.29
Female
270
252
204
726
(%)
37.19
34.71
28.10
Total
408
420
403
1,230
Chi-Square 20.1, PO.OOl

273
10% more females than males feel the need to make connection. In the “moderate”
category there is an opposite trend, where 10% of more males than females feel the
need to make connection. In the “strong” category equal percentages of females and
males feel the need. When three categories of responses under gender are added up,
females (59%) indicate a stronger tendency than males (41%) to connect life and
faith.
The question next asked was is there any trend in this need to make connection
between life and faith among any particular age group. Table 65 presents the
distribution of percentages in age groups. As can be seen, age groups present different
need profiles. In the category of “very strong” the post-Vatican II generation
manifests the lowest percentage of need to link life and faith. At the other end, the
TABLE 65
Percentages: In Need to Make Connection
between Life and Faith, by Age Groups
Age Group
Very Strong
Strong
Moderate
Total
18-34
100
145
121
366
(%)
27.32
39.62
33.06
35-54
174
169
156
499
(%)
34.87
33.87
31.26
55+
124
105
118
347
(%)
35.73
30.26
34.01
Total
398
419
395
1,212
Chi-Square 10.0, P<0.01

274
TABLE 66
Percentages: Need to Make Connection
between Life and Faith, by Help Sought
Rel. Agents
Very Strong
Strong
Moderate
Total
Both
35
24
12
71
<%)
49.30
33.80
16.90
Lay Specialist
52
52
19
123
(%)
42.28
42.28
15.45
Priest
109
82
71
262
(%)
41.60
31.30
27.10
Neither
213
265
302
780
(%)
27.31
33.97
38.72
PcO.OOl
pre-Vatican generation shows the highest percentage of the “very strong” need to
make connection between life and faith. There are equal percentages of middle age
generation in each category. However, they make up the majority (41%) of the total
respondents who feel the need to make connection between life and faith.
I next examine the influence of the intermediating agents such as the lay
specialists or priest or both in the respondent’s need to make a link between life and
faith. Table 66 presents the distribution of the connection between life and faith in
terms of the help sought either from the lay specialists or priests or both.
Table 66 indicates a highly significant difference in the percentages between
those who seek help from lay specialists and priests in their need to make a link

275
between life and faith and those who do not seek help in the need to make a link
Among those who seek lay specialists and priests, about 50% indicated a “very
strong” need to make connection between life and faith. Only 17% indicated a
moderate or weak need to make a link
In contrast, of those who did not get any help from the lay specialists and
priests, only 27% indicated a “very strong” need to make a link, and 39% indicated
a moderate or weak need to make a link between life and faith. The percentages of
those who approached only a lay specialist or only a priest with a “very strong” need
to make a link between life and faith are the same. This seems to suggest that the
influence of lay specialists is as strong as that of the priests in the need to make
connection between life experiences and faith traditions.
To sum up, the assumption that the lay specialists by their employment in the
Catholic parishes are examples for the parishioners encouraging them 1) to seek a
greater involvement in the parish and 2) to seek a connection between life and faith
was examined. The first part of the assumption was supported in general, by nearly
half of the respondents in each sample parish. The pre-Vatican II generation seems
to be very strong in their conviction that the lay specialists are examples in the parish.
Education exerts an important influence on one’s conviction about lay specialists’
examples. Those who are highly educated think of lay specialists’ as examples more
than the less educated. For those with Catholic education, there was a reverse trend.
Those who think lay specialists are examples in the parish seem to have less Catholic

276
education than those who do not see lay specialists as examples. The second part of
the assumption, namely to seek a connection between life and faith traditions, was
supported by equal percentages in all four parishes. However, females had a much
stronger need to seek a link between life and faith than the males. Likewise, the pre-
Vatican II generation indicated a much stronger need than the other two generations
to seek a link. The influence of the lay specialists in the need to make a link between
life and faith traditions indicates interesting results. The lay specialists influence on
parishioners’ need to make connection between life and faith is the same as the
influence exerted by the priests. And those who seek help from both, lay specialists
and priests, showed much stronger need to make a connection between life and faith
traditions. After examining the lay specialists influences on our respondents, I felt the
need to examine the level of satisfaction of their specialized tasks in the parishes. I
discuss this in the following section.
Parishioners’ Satisfaction with Lay Specialists’ Execution of Tasks
The study of satisfaction with human services or material goods produced by
the organizations or factories is a common phenomenon. Anyone who receives such
services or goods develops a kind of attitude about what they receive. This attitude
in general is referred to as consumer satisfaction. In the context of the Catholic
parishes, the parishioners can be regarded as “clientele” of the services provided by
the parish specialists. I next discuss the satisfaction of the respondents (clientele) to
the specialized services provided by the lay specialists in the parishes.

277
The term “satisfaction” in this section denotes the feelings of the respondents
with regard to the services such as “It is a good program,” “It helped me a lot in my
religious experience,” “It helped us in our marriage or family,” and “I liked it.” The
term “dissatisfaction” denotes the opposite of the above expressions. In my
preliminary interviews with the religious specialists I generated a list of 16 items that
are under the direction of the lay specialists. For example, the CCD program is
provided by the specialist in religious education, and marriage preparation is provided
by the specialists in marriage and family. Although the Mass is not directly under the
authority of the lay specialists, they are responsible for some aspects of the Mass:
they are music directors, eucharistic ministers, altar servers, acolytes, and ushers who
play their roles in the Mass. Therefore I included some items related to celebration
of the Mass, such as the general quality of music and training of liturgical ministers,
and the scheduling (frequency and timing) of Masses and Baptisms. I listed the 16
items on the questionnaire and asked the participants to respond to each item with the
following questions: 1) strongly satisfied, 2) somewhat satisfied, 3) mixed feelings,
4) somewhat dissatisfied, 5) strongly dissatisfied, 6) no opinion.
The responses of the sample population were analyzed in two parts. First, I
grouped the respondents as those who had an opinion and those who had no opinion
on these items. The responses to questions 1-5 were reduced to one category of “those
who had an opinion” as opposed to question 6 of “those who had no opinion.”
Secondly, among those who had an opinion, (the responses to questions 1-5) were

278
TABLE 67
Distribution of Opinion on Lay Specialists’ Services,
by Number of Respondents in Each Parish
(Y = Had an opinion; N = Had no opinion)
Items
St. Thomas
St. Benedict
St. Justin
St. Francis
Yes
No
Yes
No
Yes
No
Yes
No
Training Persons
77
126
174
230
156
237
109
184
Baptism Prepar.
68
135
121
283
95
298
74
219
RCIA
83
120
199
205
134
259
71
222
CCD
75
128
140
264
153
240
116
177
Alpha
11
192
105
299
15
378
14
279
Marriage Prep
54
149
115
289
72
321
53
240
Marri. Enrich.
40
163
101
303
50
343
66
227
Single Support
39
164
60
344
56
337
39
254
Missions
60
143
217
186
121
272
96
197
Adult Ed.
59
144
114
290
136
257
114
290
Youth
65
138
90
314
100
293
79
214
Divorced & Seper.
34
169
41
363
45
348
19
274
Music
189
14
398
6
11
11
279
14
Mass (schedule)
191
12
397
7
378
15
273
20
Baptism (schedule)
123
80
213
191
171
222
200
93
Bereavement
51
152
40
364
73
320
26
267
Total Number of
Respondents in
Each Parish
203
404
393
293
Table 67 shows that the level of opinion on the items differs among individual
parishes. I classified these items into three groups according to the level of opinion
expressed by all the 1293 respondents: 1) those items that have 50% and above
opinions as high level, 2) those items that have 35 to 49% opinions as middle level,
and 3) those items that have less than 35% opinions as low level. Accordingly,

279
liturgical ministers training, quality of music, schedule of Masses, and schedule of
Baptisms have a high level opinion. RCIA, CCD, and missions have middle level
opinion. And adult education, Baptism preparation, Alpha, marriage preparations,
family and marriage enrichment, singles support, youth work, divorced and separated
ministry, and bereavement ministry have low level opinion.
People tend to form opinions about persons, objects, and events for various
reasons. Some people form opinions from personal experiences, some by learning
from family members, and still others from the information gathered in some causal
conversations. The various sources of information may explain the levels of opinion
expressed in the survey sample. For example, quality of music has the highest
percentage (97%) of respondents expressed their opinion in our population. Music,
which is considered as an essential part of the Mass, is heard and experienced in
Sunday Masses and most of the people who participate in the Masses tend to form
opinions about it. The same thing could be said about the training of liturgical
ministers. The majority of the participants in the Mass may not have seen the actual
training of the altar servers, acolytes, or eucharistic ministers, yet they tend to form
an opinion because they see the liturgical ministers performing their roles in the
Sunday Masses.
The parishioners also learn about their parish programs from the priests or lay
specialists or family members and friends. Some of these parishioners tend to form
some opinion about the programs even though they may not have directly participated

280
in them. For example, parents learn about the CCD program from their children or
friends and tend to form an opinion about it. The majority of the parishioners leam
about RCIA in the community celebrations of the rituals and some tend to form
opinions about it. Some parishioners may not be aware of the items or programs in
their own parishes. They may hear about them from fellow parishioners in their causal
conversations and tend to form some kind of opinion about them. For example, Alpha
program is conducted only in one of the parishes. However, opinions on this program
are expressed, though only in very small numbers, by respondents from the four
sample parishes.
To sum up, I explained the possible reasons about the three levels of opinions
expressed by the sample population on 16 items. The items or programs that are
objects of personal participation or experience in the parish tend to get the most
respondents’ opinions (high level). On the contrary, the programs that are known to
be in the parishes but not objects of direct experience, but learned from others, tend
to receive some people’s opinions (middle level). And the programs that are not
known to be in the parishes but may be heard casually from others tend to have very
few people’s opinions (low level). Now I examine the next two categories, “satisfied”
and “dissatisfied,” among those who had expressed their opinions about the 16 items.
Table 68 presents the distribution of “satisfaction” by number of respondents from
each parish.

281
TABLE 68
Distribution of Satisfaction on Lay Specialists’ Services,
by Number of Respondents in Each Parish
(Y = Satisfied; N = Dissatisfied)
Items
St. Thomas
St. Benedict
St. Justin
St. Francis
Yes
No
Yes
No
Yes
No
Yes
No
Training Persons
62
15
150
24
133
23
88
21
Baptism Prepar.
60
8
107
14
82
13
62
12
RCIA
70
13
178
21
106
28
51
20
CCD
59
16
90
50
119
34
78
38
Alpha
10
1
97
8
12
3
9
5
Marriage Prep.
43
11
104
11
52
20
44
9
Marriage Enrich.
30
10
90
11
35
15
56
10
Single Support
29
10
43
17
31
25
28
11
Missions
45
15
197
20
83
38
77
19
Adult Education
37
22
76
38
83
53
77
33
Youth
41
24
50
40
56
44
32
47
Divorced & Sep.
26
8
32
9
31
14
11
8
Music
143
46
364
34
301
81
241
38
Mass (schedule)
174
17
377
20
359
19
256
17
Baptism (schedule)
91
32
191
22
143
28
147
53
Bereavement
46
5
33
7
66
7
22
4
Total Number of
Respondents in
Each Parish
203
404
393
293
Table 68 indicates that the parishes do have some noticeable differences on
satisfaction in some items. I discuss these later. First, I grouped the satisfied items
into three groups according to the levels of satisfaction expressed by all those who
had opinions: 1) those items that have 80% and above of the satisfied as “high-range
satisfaction” group, 2) those items that have 60-79% of satisfied as “mid-range

282
satisfaction” group, and 3) those items that have below 60% as “low-range
satisfaction” group.
Clustering the items into the above three ranges of satisfaction, I found that 11
items namely, training liturgical ministers, quality of music, schedule of Masses and
Baptisms, RCIA, Baptism preparation, missions, Alpha, marriage preparation, family
and marriage enrichment, and bereavement ministry fall in the high range satisfactory
level. Four items, namely, CCD, adult education, singles group, and divorced and
separated ministry fall in the mid-range satisfactory level. One item, the youth
ministry, falls in the low range satisfactory level. The three ranges of satisfaction
reflect not only the personal experiences of the individual client who receives the
services, but also the collective experiences of a family in which either the father or
mother or a child participates in the programs and shares the experience of
satisfaction or dissatisfaction with others.
Early in this chapter, I classified the sample parishes into Type One, Type
Two, and Type Three on the basis of parish activities by agents. I found that the tasks
of the lay specialists are unevenly distributed: in Type One parish, 18.2% of the
essential tasks are performed by them. In Type Two parish, 42.9% of the essential
tasks are performed by them. And in Type Three, the lay specialists perform 65.2%
of the essential tasks in the parish.
I questioned whether there would be any statistically significant differences in
percentages among the three types of parishes from the perspective of respondents’

283
satisfaction. Data analysis showed that in Type One, traditional parish, a significant
difference was seen in the CCD program (78.67% with PO.Ol), and the youth
program (63.08% with PO.Ol) from the other two types. Some difference was
noticed in the youth program (63.08%) but it was not significant. At the other end,
several items indicated significant differences in Type Three, transformed parish:
RCIA (89.45% with PO.OOl), Alpha (92.38% with PO.Ol), marriage preparation
(90.43% with PO.Ol), family and marriage enrichment (89.11% with PO.Ol),
missions (90.78% with PO.OOl), quality of music (91.46% with PO.OOl), and
schedule of Baptisms (89.67% with PO.OOl). Some differences were seen in training
liturgical ministers (86.21%), Baptism preparation (88.43%), and in ministry to the
divorced and separated (78.05%), but the differences were not significant. In Type
Two, transitional parish, there were some differences from the other two types in
adult education (70%), scheduling Masses (94%) and bereavement ministry (90%),
but the differences were not statistically significant.
The analysis indicates significant differences in percentages of satisfaction in
each type of parish: In Type One parish, 20% of the items or programs indicate more
satisfaction than in Types Two and Three parishes. Sixty percent of the items in Type
Three parish have more satisfaction than in Type One and Two. And 20% of the items
indicate more satisfaction in Type Two parish than in Types One and Three. This
diverse “satisfactory” view of the three types of parishes seems to correlate with the
diverse profile of the lay specialists’ essential tasks in each type of parish. The higher

284
the percentages of lay specialists’ essential tasks in parishes, the higher the
percentages of satisfaction are among the parishioners. This trend seems true in Type
Three parish, where the percentages of lay specialists’ ministerial tasks (65.2%) and
respondents’ satisfaction (62%) correlates, and in Type One parish, where the
percentages of lay specialists’ ministerial tasks (18.2%) match with respondents’
satisfaction (20%). However, in Type Two parish, the correlation is not there. The
percentages of the respondent’s satisfaction (20%) is lower comparing the percentages
of lay specialists’ essential tasks (42.9%). The potential causes for this difference
could be that in a Type Two parish, the tasks of the lay specialists are not specified
and clear. A specialist performs several tasks that are not within the area of
specialization.

CHAPTER 9
CONCLUSIONS
The Lay Specialists
The subject of this research is the phenomenon of lay specialists only in four
Catholic parishes in Gilmer, Florida This study was guided by search questions such
as who are the lay specialists, how are they different from the laity, what are their
distinct characteristics, what is the nature of their tasks in the parish, what are the
domains of their services to the parishioners, and what is the impact of their
specialized tasks in the parish? In this chapter, I summarize the findings of my
research.
The word “laity” is derived from the Greek “laikos,” meaning a certain secular
character. It denotes a person who is neither a cleric nor vowed religious. The lay
specialists belong to the clan of the “laity” but, they are different by their
specialization, recognition, and remuneration. They have distinct characteristics. They
are a subculture of the laity. Lay specialists’ tasks in the parishes differ according to
the area of specialization. They are highly motivated, educated, and skilled in
collaboration.
Lay specialists’ help to the parishioners embraces two domains outlined by the
two ideologies of the Catholic Church. The lay specialists help the parishioners 1) to
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participate in the common mission of the Church through involvement in the local
churches (parishes) and 2) to respond to the personal Christian spirituality through
human problems, religious beliefs and practices. Lay specialists’ interactions in these
domains were tested. Before presenting the results, I present an overview of the
current state of human problems, religious beliefs and practices of the respondents.
Human Problems
On the basis of findings on human problems, the following problems were
found and ranked in an order from the most reported to the least reported:
communication/conflict issues, loneliness/depression, self-esteem/worth, parent/child
relationship, spouse/partner relations, parent/in-laws relationship, job loss, health
issues, education, responsibility/commitment, unplanned/unwanted pregnancy,
violence, drug/alcohol, and crime. The ranking from the most to the least reported was
made to show the important problems of our sample population that are centered
around their interpersonal and emotional issues. The problems such as crime and
drugs/alcohol that get national attention in the media were not significant issues here.
The data results indicated that the four parishes exhibit different clusters of human
problems because of their diverse demographical factors. But, it would be fallacious
to assume that certain problems belong only to certain demographical factors. The
findings indicate that loneliness is not the problem of the elderly or the widowed, but
it is pervasive also among the student population. In the same way, it would be
inaccurate to assume that the human problems are same for males and females. The

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results indicated that there were gender differences. Problems such as spouse/partner
relationship, communication/conflict, and loneliness/depression were more important
to women than men. Problems such as responsibility/commitment and parent/child
relationships were more important to men. Issues related to job loss and health are
considered equally important to women and men.
The impact of “personal prayer” on the human problems was analyzed with the
hypothesis that people may pray about the problem before seeking help from the
pastoral staff in the parishes. The results indicated that personal prayer is used on
occasions of human problems. People pray first for problems that are vital to their life
such as health, spouse/partner relationship, parent/child relationship, and job loss.
They pray also for other problems such as loneliness/depression, self-esteem/worth,
and communication/conflict.
Religious Beliefs
From analysis of human problems I turned to the analysis of religion itself.
Religious beliefs were analyzed in three categories: core Catholic beliefs, ethical and
moral beliefs, and beliefs of traditional nature. The analysis indicated the level of
Catholic beliefs in the sample population. For the purpose of reporting the findings
below, I use three rating scales such as “very strong,” “strong,” and “mild” to indicate
the levels of beliefs of the sample population in terms of Catholic Church’s official
teachings. Beliefs that had more than 70-100% were indicated “very strong,” beliefs

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that had 50-69% were indicated “strong,” and beliefs that had less than 50% were
indicated “mild.”
Core Catholic Beliefs
The Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, Virginal Conception of Jesus,
Bodily Resurrection of Jesus, Life after Death, and Eternity of Hell were analyzed in
this framework. The results indicated that there is a strong agreement with the
Church’s teaching (except in the post-Vatican II generation—18-34 years) in the Real
Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, and a very strong agreement in the Virginal
Conception of Jesus, the Bodily Resurrection of Jesus, and Life after Death. But there
was a strong disagreement with the official belief of the Church on the Eternity of
Hell. It is a departure from the Church’s belief
The post-Vatican II generation, in particular, showed disagreement with the
Chinch’s beliefs in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, the Bodily
Resurrection of Jesus, and the Eternity of Hell. For example, nearly 50% of them
showed tendency to believe in the symbolic presence rather than the Real Presence
of Jesus in the Eucharist.
Beliefs: Ethical and Moral Nature
Premarital sex, extramarital sex, homosexual acts, divorce and annulments, the
use of contraceptives, and abortion were also analyzed. Analysis revealed a strong
disagreement with the Church’s teaching on premarital sex among the respondents in
the post-Vatican II generation (18-34 years), and a mild disagreement among those

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in the Vatican II generation (35-54 years) and in the pre-Vatican II generation (55 and
above years). There was strong disagreement with the Church’s teachings on divorce,
annulment, and the use of contraceptives. There was very strong agreement with the
Church’s teaching about extramarital sex and abortion, and a strong agreement with
the Church’s teaching concerning the inherent inacceptability of homosexual acts.
Beliefs: Traditional Nature
Priestly celibacy and male priesthood were analyzed. A strong disagreement
with Church’s practice was found on the priestly celibacy in all age groups and
between genders. The responses to traditional only male priesthood were split. There
was a mild disagreement with the Chinch’s practice among the males of all age
groups and the women of older group; but an even a stronger disagreement among
women of younger (18-34) and middle age groups (35-54).
Religious Practices
Religious practices were analyzed under three categories: the core Catholic
practices, Catholic sacramental practices, and general Christian practices. For the
purpose of reporting the findings here, I used three rating scales such as “high
observance,” “medium observance,” and “low observance” to indicate the level of
religious practices in the sample population. The practices that have more than 70%-
100% of observance were classified “high,” and practices that have 50-69% were
classified “medium,” and practices that have less than 50% were classified “low.”

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The Core Catholic Practices
Mass, Communion, and Confession were analyzed in this category. When all
ages were combined, a high level of observance in the weekly practices of Mass and
Communion and a medium level of observance in the practice in Confession were
found. A breakdown of the data by age group indicated that the post-Vatican 13
generation (18-34 years) of this survey population appears to be more dedicated to the
observance of weekly Masses than population in the national survey. The findings of
weekly Mass and Communion practices indicated that as people get older, they tend
to become more religious. The findings in the practice of Confession, both in this
sample population and national survey, suggest that the traditional practice of
Confession is in the decline. Respondents said they ask God’s forgiveness directly
without the intervention of a priest.
The Catholic Sacramental Practices
Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, Rosary, Stations of the Cross, Novena,
Fast and Abstinence, Liturgy of the Hours, and Spiritual Retreat were analyzed. The
data results indicated a low observance of traditional practices such as Benediction
of the Blessed Sacrament, Rosary, Novena, and Spiritual Retreat. Responses indicated
a very high level observance of “once-a-year” abstinence and nearly a high level
observance of “once-a-year” fasting. Noticeable differences were found between
genders. More women than men practiced in the following: Benediction of the
Blessed Sacrament, Rosary, Stations of the Cross, Novena, and abstinence from meat.

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The above findings suggest the women are more attached to several traditional
practices then men.
The General Christian Practices
Grace at meals, private Bible reading, other spiritual reading, charismatic
prayer, centering prayer, and personal reflection of God were analyzed in this
category. All these practices are low level observances according to the statistical
analysis. However, a breakdown of data by age group and gender demonstrated
noticeable differences. The findings indicate that some practices such as the Bible
reading, other spiritual reading, and centering prayer are frequent among the young
generation. A common trend between age and frequency of practice was found in
responses about Grace at meals, personal reflection of God, and other spiritual
reading. The older people were, the more likely they were to involve themselves in
these practices. The data results indicated a significant difference between women and
men in the practices of Bible reading and other spiritual reading. More women than
men, in our survey population, are involved in the general Christian practices of Bible
reading and other spiritual reading.
Domain I; Lay Specialists and Parishioners’ Involvement
The preceding gave insight into the current state of religious beliefs and
practices among the respondents. Now I turn to the findings on the lay specialists’
interactions with the respondents in the two domains. The hypothesis that the more

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interactions of the lay specialists with the parishioners, the more the involvement of
the parishioners in the parish, was tested
The data results indicated that 60% of the respondents are involved (lightly and
heavily) in some programs of the parish such as Eucharistic minister, choir member,
RCIA sponsor, prayer couple, and parish council member. Still, 40% are not involved
The four parishes presented different profiles. St. Thomas, St. Justin and St. Francis
have shown equal percentages of parishioners’ involvement: about 31% are lightly
involved , about 25% are heavily involved, and about 42% are not involved The
distribution differs in St. Benedict: one out of three is heavily involved, one out of
three is lightly involved, and one out of three is not involved
More men than women are involved in the parish programs, an unconventional
finding. Women participate in religious services more than men. But their
involvement in the parish programs is limited due to conventional obligations such
as to taking care of the childrens’ needs. Most of the programs conducted by lay
specialists take place in the evening hours of the weekdays, when people who work
can attend However, these hours are inconvenient for women with children. The
parish involvement by age groups indicated that pre-Vatican n, Vatican n, and post-
Vatican II generations are equally involved in the programs. Each generation finds
programs that suit the particular interest of the age group.
The impact of lay specialists’ services and/or interactions on the parishioner’s
involvement was measured The data indicated a significant relationship between the

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tendency a person has to seek help from lay specialists on human problems and the
degree of that person’s involvement in parish programs. Of those who had sought help
from the lay specialists, 76% are involved (lightly and heavily). At the other side, of
those who had sought no help from the lay specialists, 57% are involved (lightly and
heavily) in the parish. The lay specialist’s influence is very significant among those
who are heavily involved in the parish. In this category, the percentage of those who
sought help from the lay specialists was double that of those who sought no help from
the lay specialists. For comparative purposes, I tested if there would be any difference
between those who seek lay specialists’ help and the priests’ help in terms of their
parish involvement. The result indicated that those who seek help from priests tend
to get less involved in the parish than those who seek help from the lay specialists.
I tested the following two-part assumption as one of the possible reasons for
the parishioners to be involved in the parish: They look up to the lay specialists as
examples of a) how to be involved in the parish, and b) how to seek connection
between life experience and faith traditions. Traditionally, the essential tasks in the
Catholic parishes were performed by the priests. Now several of those tasks are being
performed by the lay specialists. The lay specialists represent both the laity by their
“lay” status and the priests by their “specialists” status in some Christian tradition.
When the parishioners seek help from the lay specialists, I assume that they see the
specialists as their examples to share in the works of the parish and to seek a
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The first part of the assumption was tested with the following statement: “The
lay specialists in the parishes demonstrate in a formal way what all baptized persons
are called to do by the Church.” The test results indicated significant difference
among the parishes. In St. Benedict parish, where 65.2% of the essential tasks are
performed by the lay specialists, 69% of the respondents said that lay specialists are
their example. In St. Thomas parish, where only 18.2% of the essential tasks are
performed by the lay specialists, only 45% said that lay specialists are their example.
On the basis of these findings, it appears that the more lay specialists work in the
Catholic parishes, the more likely it is that a high percentage of parishioners see them
as examples. The parishioners involve themselves in the parish, seeing the lay
specialists as models. This varies by the level of one’s education. Those who have
higher education, such as the doctorate, indicated that they are convinced of the role
of lay specialists as their examples in the parishes. The educated are more likely to
involve themselves in the parishes as well.
The second part of my assumption was tested with the following statement:
“The need to make connection between my life and faith tradition is very strong or
strong or moderate.” The results indicated an almost equal distribution of percentages
in each parish. However, I found significant differences in gender. On the basis of the
results, more women than men seek meaning between their life experience and faith.
They are more likely to see the lay specialists as examples and seek help in
interpreting the meaning of the problem in religious terms. The differences were also

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found in the age groups. Results showed that the post-Vatican II generation (18-34
years) is not interested in seeking a link between life and faith as much as the pre-
Vatican II generation (55 and above years). The interest of Vatican II generation in
seeking a connection between life experience and faith is stronger than the post-
Vatican n, but a tittle weaker than the pre-Vatican II generation. On the basis of these
results, it appears that as people grow older, they are more likely to increase their
interest in seeking meaning for life problems in their religious terms.
The influence of the lay specialists and priests on respondents’ seeking a link
between experience and faith was measured. The results indicated that respondents
approach both the lay specialists and priests in finding religious meaning to their life
problems. The lay specialists have as strong an impact on the respondents as the
priests in this matter. It is a new phenomenon in the Catholic parish, because formerly
the priests were the only religious specialists in the parishes to interpret the meaning
of problems in religious terms. The priests gave to the parishioners direction and
pastoral advice on coping with problems. Now this help is sought by the parishioners
from the lay specialists, whose influence on the parishioners is as strong as the
priests. In the very process of help the persons with life problems, the lay specialists
share their own religious experience in coping with the problems—all from a
perspective of one lay person to another lay person. I have made this inference within
the theoretical paradigm of Human Materialism, which says, “An ideology begins to
die out (i.e., has progressively fewer adherents) if those who promote it fail to gain

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infrastructural power or lose such power” (Magnarella, 1993, p. 32). When the lay
specialists help the parishioners in the context of their own religious experience and
life problems, they are not only legitimately giving witness to the ideology of Vatican
II, but also reinforcing the same ideology among the parishioners. Such witness to and
reinforcement of the ideology strengthen their positions of power among the
parishioners and increase their adherents.
Domain n; Lay Specialists and Parishioner’s Christian.Spirituality
I explored in domain II whether there is any indication of possible influence
in the beliefs and practices of the respondents because of the interactions with the lay
specialists.
I hypothesized that the lay specialists could lead the parishioners to Christian
Spirituality through application of the belief and practices to human problems. I
suspected that some lay specialists are more involved in matters of belief and some
lay specialists in matters of practice. For example, the specialist in Spirituality would
employ religious beliefs in order to interpret and make meaning out of human
problems. The specialist in Liturgy would give greater emphasis to the religious
practices (rituals) to celebrate them in the community with appropriate devotion as
to satisfy parishioner’s spiritual quest. But in either case I hypothesized that with
stronger interactions with lay specialists there would be stronger influence in religious
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My hypothesis was not borne out. I found no significant correlation between
the first core beliefs (the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, the virginal
conception of Jesus, the bodily resurrection of Jesus, and life after death) and the
degree of interactions with the lay specialists (or priests) in the parish. However, I
found a discrepancy in the belief of the eternity of Hell. Nearly 50% disagreed with
the traditional beliefs of the Church. And this departure from the official belief was
significantly higher among those who interacted only with the lay specialists than
among those not interacting or interacting with priests. Reward and punishment are
common categories of human society, where someone is rewarded for good work with
money, promotion, or social honor, and for bad performance someone is punished
with the denial of such rewards. Such categories of reward and punishment seem to
reinforce the value of personal responsibility in the society. The same categories of
reward for good life and punishment for bad life in religious setting are meant to
promote personal and moral responsibility in the life of the believers. The denial of
even one category, such as punishment, not only devalues personal and moral
accountability, but also questions the commonly believed “justice” of God, Who gives
rewards to those who merit them and punishment to those who fail.
The ethical and moral beliefs of the respondents are divided. On the issues of
premarital sex, and use of contraceptives the respondents’ interactions with lay
specialists is correlated with higher level of departure from the official teachings of
the Church. On the issues of abortion and the inherent nature of homosexuality,

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disagreement with the Church’s positions are found among those who interact with
the lay specialists than priests, but there was no statistical significance. I found a
strong agreement with the Church’s teaching on extramarital sex. On the issue of
divorce and annulment, there was disagreement with the Church, a stance independent
of their interactions with the lay specialists or priests. The division of beliefs among
the respondents indicates the fine line between those beliefs that seem “personal” and
others that are “social.” For example, the use of contraceptives is personal; the use of
abortion is social except for the person directly involved in it. On the basis of these
findings, it appears that the parishioners hold personal moral beliefs that affect their
day-to-day lives, even though they are contrary to the teaching of the Church.
On matters of concerning the traditional practices namely priestly celibacy and
male priesthood, the majority of the respondents disagree with the positions of the
Church. On the male priesthood, 51% of the respondents want women to be ordained
to the priesthood, a stance shared equally whether one interacted with the lay
specialists or priests. Of these two practices, priestly celibacy has been retained,
adapted, or even abandoned by the Church’s authority according to the needs of time.
The very “traditional nature” of these beliefs invites people to express their views for
and against the present practices. It is my assumption that, even when the present
practices are adopted or changed, they will remain perennial subjects of discussion
in the Church, because of their traditional nature.

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I examined the question: Does interactions with the lay specialists influence
the respondents’ religious practices? The results indicated no noticeable difference
in the core Catholic practices of Mass and Communion in terms of interactions with
the lay specialists or priests. However, 10% of those who sought help from the priests
practiced Confession than those who sought help from the lay specialists. On the
basis of this finding, it appears that the priests’ interactions with the parishioners in
the core practices would increase the practice of Confession in the parishes. My data
denoted a trend in the weekly practices of Mass and Communion: as the parishioners
become older, they go to weekly Mass and Communion more frequently. If this life-
cycle is right, the religious specialists are challenged to teach the younger generation
all the beliefs and practices of Catholic culture that are necessary for them to retain
a Catholic identity.
In Sacramental practices, the more parishioners interact with the pastoral staff
(lay specialists and priests), the more they tend to practice. I found that practices such
as the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, Stations of the Cross, and retreat are
higher among those who interact with the lay specialists. In the practice of the Liturgy
of the Hours, there is more interaction with the priests. I did not find significant
differences in other practices such as Novena, fasting, abstinence, and Rosary. My
data results indicated that more women than men practice the majority of the
sacramental practices. I assume that this factor has some relationship to the fact that
the majority (66%) of the lay specialists are females.

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On matters of general Christian practices, the interactions of the lay specialists
and priests had a strong impact. The more respondents interacted with the pastoral
staff, the more they tend to practice. My data results indicated that those who
interacted with the lay specialists showed greater interest in Bible reading, other
spiritual reading, charismatic prayer, and centering prayer than those who interacted
with the priests. More women than men are involved in some Christian practices such
as Bible reading and other spiritual readings. It may be that female lay specialists’
interactions with women explains why more women than men were involved in those
practices.
Lay Specialists and Parishioner’s Financial Contribution
Parishioners give financial contributions to their parishes. My assumption, that
there is a correlation between the parishioner’s financial contributions and the lay
specialist’s services, was tested. First, I established the weekly mean income of the
four parishes. The data showed that, St. Benedict parish has the lowest weekly mean
income, and the highest numbered unemployed members in the parish. The majority
of those unemployed are University students.
My analysis indicated a positive correlation between those who seek the lay
specialists’ services and their financial contribution to the parish. Those who seek the
services of the lay specialists contribute 26.5 dollars per week in contrast to 19.8
dollars weekly contribution by those who did not seek lay specialists’ services. I
found a negative correlation: those who seek the services of the priests give less than

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those who do not seek their services. A weekly contribution of 21.2 dollars was given
by those who did not seek priests’ services in contrast to 19.2 dollars per week by
those who seek priests’ services. On the basis of these findings, it appears that the
services of lay specialists in Catholic parishes increase parishioner’s financial
contribution more than the services of the priests do.
A hypothesis that the wealthier parishioners seek the lay specialists’ services
was used to test further the correlation between parishioner’s financial contribution
and lay specialists’ services. First, using the income categories, I found the
percentages of parishioners who seek the services of lay specialists and priests. The
results indicated that the most affluent (incomes of $75K or more) as well as the least
affluent (incomes less than $25K) are seeking the lay specialists’ services. I found a
different tendency among those who seek the services of the priests. Those who seek
the priests’ services are predominantly those with income of less than $25K.
I compared the weekly contribution of the least and most affluent in terms of
the services they seek either from the lay specialists or priests. Among the least
affluent, I found no significant difference in the weekly contribution between those
who are seeking the services of the lay specialists and those who are not. Their
weekly contribution is the samel. Therefore, I concluded that the services of the lay
specialists increased the weekly contribution only in the other income brackets.
Testing for the services of the priests, I found that the parishioners who seek the

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priests’ services made the same weekly contribution as those who are seeking the help
of the lay specialists.
I found a significant difference among the very wealthy people’s contribution
to the parish. Those who seek lay specialists’ services give a weekly contribution of
83 dollars in contrast to a 45 dollars contribution from those who do not. That is to
say, that those in the wealthier group who seek services of the lay specialists
contribute nearly twice as much as those who are not seeking their services. Testing
for the priests’ services, I did not find a significant difference between those who seek
their services and those who do not. That is to say, the very wealthy give the same
amount whether they seek the services of the priests or not. On the basis of these
findings, it appears that controlling for income increases the importance of the lay
specialists’ services in predicting weekly parish contributions.
Lay Specialists’ Services and Parishioners’ Satisfaction
Lay specialists’ services were analyzed to find the parishioner’s satisfaction.
I established the number of respondents in each parish who had an opinion or no
opinion on lay specialists’ services. Then, I compared the level of satisfaction or
dissatisfaction with general parish services to opinions on the services of the lay
specialists. The opinions of the parishioners are classified into three rating scales:
high, middle, and low. My data results indicate a high level of opinion on the quality
of music, liturgical ministers’ training, schedule of Masses and Baptisms, a middle
level of opinion on RCIA, CCD, and missions; and a low level of opinion on adult

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education, Baptism preparation, Alpha, marriage preparations, family and marriage
enrichment, singles support, youth work, ministry to the divorced and separated, and
bereavement ministry. Analyzing the nature of the above services or programs in
terms of parishioner’s experience, I concluded that those services that are objects of
personal participation and/or experience evoked opinions. Those services that are not
direct objects of experience or participation, but learned from others, tend to evoke
a middle level of opinion. Those services that may not be in the parishes, but only
heard in a casual conversation have a low level of opinion.
Parishioner’s satisfaction in the services of the lay specialists was analyzed
only from the responses of the group who reported their opinions. My data results
indicated a high level of satisfaction in training liturgical ministers, quality of music,
schedule of Masses and Baptisms, RCIA, Baptism preparation, missions, Alpha,
marriage preparation, family and marriage enrichment, and bereavement ministry; a
mid-range satisfaction in CCD, adult education, singles group, and ministry to the
divorced and separated; and a low range satisfaction with the youth ministry. It is my
assumption that these satisfactory ranges reflect the personal experiences as well as
the collective experiences of a family or group that are shared with others.
An analysis to find statistical significance in parishioner’s satisfaction on 16
items was done among the three types of parishes. My results indicated that CCD and
youth ministry had a significant satisfaction in the Type One parish (traditional
parish); RCIA, Alpha, marriage preparation, family and marriage enrichment,

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missions, quality of music, and schedule of Baptisms found a significant satisfaction
in the Type Three parish (transformed parish); and adult education, schedule of
Masses, and bereavement ministry found somewhat significant satisfaction in the
Type Three parish (transitional parish). I found that the parishes differ in percentages
of satisfactory-significance in the items: 13% in Type One, 69% in Type Three, and
18% in Type Two. These differences correspond to the percentages of essential tasks
that are performed in each Type of parish by the lay specialists: 18.2% in Type One,
65.2% in Type Three, and 42.9% in Type Two. On the basis of these findings, it
appears that the satisfactory-significance in parish programs will increase with an
increase of ministerial tasks by the lay specialists.
A Pragmatic Question: Are the Lay Specialists Needed in Parishes?
When asking this question, I had two purposes: 1) to avoid any theological
argument or speculation and 2) to draw a practical summation from the materials of
this research. In regard to my first purpose, two ideologies of Vatican II are treated
here only from the perspective of Human Materialism (Magnarella, 1993), which
served as the theoretical paradigm to this research. Within the paradigm, the
ideologies of Vatican II are said to indicate the legitimacy of the lay specialists in the
parish organization, as well as to point out the two domains of lay specialists’ services
to the parishioners. I am not speculating on theological validity of the ideologies of
Vatican n.

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I draw a practical summation from the perspective of the present research.
Testing for validity on conditions, environments, and influences that supposedly
contribute to the survival and development of people is a common practice in social
sciences. Accordingly, I have tested and analyzed the tasks or impact of a newly
emerging phenomenon, lay specialists, on parishioners in four Catholic parishes.
The sociocultural matrix in which the lay specialists work is a complex reality.
In the United States such institutions as 1) family, 2) school, and 3) religious
organization have been the vehicles transmitting values and forming character in
human persons. These institutions are in a state of crisis. Families are undergoing
dramatic changes. The traditional nuclear family is on the decline. Due to divorces
and unwed mothers, single-parent families are becoming common. Among the single¬
parents, the majority are women. The family breakdown is associated with social
problems such as drug-crisis, education-crisis, teen pregnancy, and juvenile crime.
Families have major problems such as communication conflict, loneliness/depression,
poor parent/child and spouse/partner relationships, health issues, and job loss. Family
problems affect schools that transmit skills as well as norms to children. The Catholic
Church in the United States depended in the past on parochial schools to transmit
Catholic culture to the future generations. The school was an organic part of the
parish. But now, a decline in the Catholic schools is a widespread reality in the
United States. In the 1960s, there were 11,000 elementary schools and 2,400 high
schools providing Catholic education for about 5.6 million students in the United

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States. But, by the 1990s, there were only 7,505 elementary schools and 1,362
Secondary schools, a considerable decline from the figures of the 1960s (Francis &
Egan, 1990). There is only one Catholic school in the survey area of this study to
meet the needs of the students from four parishes.
The religious organization of Catholic parishes in the United States is in crisis.
It is aggravated by the shortage of priests. According to the National Pastoral Life
Center in New York, about 300 parishes are under the leadership of someone other
than a priest. Of these, about 65% are headed by religious sisters and one-third by
permanent deacons and lay people. And several parishes are helped by priests who
are pastors in other parishes (Mumion, 1994). In the 1960s, there were 35,070
diocesan priests in the United States. It is predicted that by the year 2005, there will
be approximately 21,030 priests. It is predicted also that there will be a 65% increase
in demand for priestly services due to an increase in Church membership. In the years
between 1965 and 1985, Church membership is said to have increased from
44,790,000 to 64,341,000 people. The increase is attributed to high fertility rates and
a flow of immigration from Asia and South America. By the year 2005, Church
membership is expected to rise to 74,109,000 people (Schoenherr & Young, 1993).
There was not a shortage of priests in the survey area There are three diocesan
priests in St. Thomas and St. Benedict, one diocesan and one religious priest in St.
Justin, and one diocesan priest in St. Francis. However, it is expected that in the next

307
5 to 10 years, there will be fewer priests in this area because of priests’ retirement and
shortage of vocations to the priesthood
National studies indicate that there has been an erosion of Catholic identity in
the United States (Gallup & Castelli, 1987; Hunter, 1990). A group has a strong
identity when there are strong bonds of solidarity among members of the group and
a sense of how one’s group differs from other groups. (The sense of difference need
not entail either disdain or hostility for other groups). The Catholic solidarity was
rooted in distinctive beliefs and practices which I discussed in Chapters 4 and 5. The
forces of “mainstream” culture are challenging those distinctive beliefs and practices
of the Catholic Church. As a result, the post-Vatican II generation (18-34) has 1) little
knowledge about what is distinctive about Catholicism and 2) lacks Catholic
vocabulary to talk about Catholic beliefs and practices. The distinctive Catholic belief
in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is disappearing among the younger
generation (18-34). God is accepted as a loving person who will not punish anyone
even if he or she does wrong. Age groups disagree on Church’s teachings such as
premarital sex, birth control, divorce, and annulment. While the number of weekly
Mass attenders receiving Communion has risen, the practice of the Sacramental
Confession has lessened significantly. Some traditional Catholic practices such as
Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, Rosary, and Novena are disappearing. The
Catholic parishes in the United States face not only the shortage of priests’ services,

308
but also the disappearance of a Catholic identity that was preserved through distinct
beliefs and practices.
Human Materialism (Magnarella, 1993) assumes that when open systems are
intruded by environmental or cultural forces, they may respond to these forces by
elaborating their structures to more complex levels. I maintain that the lay specialists
are the new “phenomenon” that is emerging in Catholic parishes to work in a time
when the very infrastructural components of the Catholic organizations (parishes) are
at stake because of the breakdown in families, disappearance of Catholic education,
erosion of Catholic identity (in beliefs and practices). The lay specialists are
motivated, specialized in education, and skilled to work in collaboration with the
priests and people as a team. As is evidenced by my research data, the lay specialists
are giving help in human problems by fostering better relationships between
spouse/partner and parents and children; identifying problems of
responsibility/commitment; improving skills to improve communication between
husbands and wives and partents and children; improving feelings of self-worth and
self-esteem; inviting the lonely/depressed to participate in community events, and
making recommendations and referrals on health issues. In all these areas, the lay
specialists appeal to the cognitive, affective, and behavioral dimensions of the
persons. They help to restore harmony for those who have problems in resolving
those problems and their religious beliefs and practices. The lay specialists prepare
the celebration of the rituals in such a way as to create an atmosphere of spiritual

309
experience for the parishioners. Providing good spiritual experiences helps people
develop strong emotional attachments to the parishes and, in return, these parishes can
call on the parishioners for financial and social support (Magnarella, 1993). Survey
data results in an increase in the levels of parishioners’ involvement, weekly financial
contribution, and satisfaction support it. The parishioners recognize the services of
the lay specialists by accepting them as examples of how to involve themselves in the
parish and seek a link between their life problems and faith traditions.
On the basis of these findings, it appears that the lay specialists in the Catholic
parishes respond to environmental or cultural stresses in their specialized roles and
contribute to the stability and/or survival of the parish organizations. This agrees with
Anthony Wallace’s 1966 analysis of revitalization movements, which also identifies
stress as the cause of the emergence of new religious patterns (p. 34). Further research
should focus on the impact of lay specialists’ services on the life of the ordained
specialists (priests). In the context of increased lay specialists’ services in the parish,
the ordained specialists become “generalists” with the primary duties of presiding
over the ritual celebrations in the parish. Because the parishioners seek help from the
lay specialists and work as volunteers under the direction of the lay specialists, the
priest’s direct contact with the parishioners is lessened. The tasks of the priests in the
Catholic parishes in the future could be primarily the celebration of Mass and
Sacraments. And, since the priests’ roles are shifting from the traditional ones to those
role of spiritual animator and/or the overseer of the lay specialists, will the priests

310
have the necessary collaborative skills to work with the lay specialists? How will this
collaboration change the future training of candidates to the priesthood? Questions
such as these could lead to investigations of the shifting roles of the ordained
specialists in Catholic parishes. My data results indicate that parishes need to have
more lay specialists to increase the parishioners’ involvement in the parish and
financial contributions to the parish. I hope this study will provide information and
inspiration for further anthropological studies on religious organizations,
organizations that are vital for the integration of sociocultural norms and values.

APPENDIX
QUESTIONNAIRE
INSTRUCTIONS:
(1) Please write your answer in the space “ ” provided for each
question.
(2) Where appropriate, use the code number given in the box to
determine your answer.
(3) Please do not write your name or address. Your information will
remain anonymous.
(4) If you take this questionnaire home, please mail it on Monday in the
postage-paid envelope. Please seal the envelope.
Thank you,
Fr. Anthony Michaelraj
For Office Use Only
Parish Code
Date
311

312
Your Religious Practices
1. Please estimate how often, on average, you have carried out the following activities within the past 12 months.
0=Did not do it in the last 12 months
l=Once a year
2=Several times a year
3=Once a month
4=Several times a month
5=Once a week
6=Several times a week
7=Daily
Mass
Communion
Confession
Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament
Rosary
Stations of the Cross
Novena
Fasting
Abstaining from meat
Grace at meals
Private Bible reading
Other spiritual reading
Liturgy of the Hours
Spiritual retreat
Charismatic prayer meetings
Centering prayer
Personal reflection of God
Your Religious Beliefs
2. In each of the following questions, you will be given two opposing religious or moral propositions (A. BY
Indicate in the space which of the propositions most closely approximates vour own position.
l=Strongly agree with A
4=Mildly agree with B
2=Mildly agree with A
5=Strongly agree with B
3=Unsure
0=Disagree with both positions
(A) The tradition of priestly celibacy should be preserved.
(B) Catholic priests should be allowed to marry.
(A) Women should be able to be ordained as priests.
(B) The tradition of a male Catholic priesthood should be preserved.
(A) Christ is physically present in the Eucharist. The bread and wine have been literally
transformed into the body and blood of Christ
(B) The Eucharist is a sacred symbol of Christ
(A) Jesus was conceived without physical input from a human father.
(B) The Gospel account is symbolic and Jesus was probably conceived the same way as
other humans.

313
(A) The Resurrection of Christ was spiritual. Jesus’ body may have undergone physical
corruption.
(B) Christ literally and physically rose from the dead with a transformed body.
(A) Death will be the end of individual human souls.
(B) My soul will continue to live even after my death.
(A) God is so loving that there cannot be eternal punishment or hell.
(B) Those who die in sin will suffer in hell through all eternity.
(A) Sexual intercourse between two unmarried people is against God’s Law.
(B) If a couple truly cares for each other, premarital sex can be a legitimate expression of
their love.
(A) It is wrong for a married person to have sexual intercourse with someone other than
his/her spouse.
(B) Sometimes a married person can legitimately have a sexual intercourse with someone
other than his/her spouse.
(A) The Church should prohibit divorce and restrict annulments.
(B) The Church should be more flexible in its divorce and annulment policy.
(A) The use of contraceptives is wrong.
(B) Married couples can legitimately decide to use contraceptives.
(A) Sexual activities can be a legitimate expression of mutual love between consenting
homosexuals.
(B) Homosexual acts are inherently wrong.
(A) Restrictions on abortion infringe on a woman’s rights over her own body.
(B) Abortion entails the killing of an innocent human life from the moment of conception.
Your Life Crisis and the Parish
3. Look at the following problem list. For each one state whether it has been a problem for you personally
0=lt has not been a problem
l=It has been a minor problem
2=It has been a major problem
Sickness or poor health Loss of job or other economic stress
Problems with alcohol or drugs Educational problems (admissions, failure,
assistants hip)
Domestic violence (emotional, physical, Problems of loneliness and/or depression
and sexual) Problems with understanding responsibility
Problems with parent/child relationships and commitment

314
Problems with one’s parents or in-laws Communication/conflict issues in relationships
Unplanned and/or unwanted pregnancy Problems with self-worth/self-esteem
in the family Victimization by crime
Relational problems with one’s spouse
or dating partner
4. Look at the same problem list again. This time indicate whether you have sought help from anyone on
the parish-staff on this matter.
0=1 have not approached anyone on the staff about this problem.
1=1 have sought help from a professional lay staff member of the parish.
2=1 have sought help from one of the parish priests.
Sickness or poor health Loss of job or other economic stress
Problems with alcohol or drugs Educational problems (admissions, failure,
assistants hip)
Domestic violence (emotional, physical, Problems of loneliness and/or depression
and sexual) Problems with understanding responsibility
Problems with parent/child relationships and commitment
Problems with one’s parents or in-laws Communication/conflict issues in relationships
Unplanned and/or unwanted pregnancy Problems with self-worth/self-esteem
in the family Victimization by crime
Relational problems with one’s spouse
or dating partner
5. Please look at the same problem list one final time. This time indicate how frequently you really and
truly engage in personal praver about that particular problem.
0=Rarely if ever engage in personal prayer about it.
l=Occasionally engage in personal prayer about it.
2=Frequently engage in personal prayer about it.
3=Daily engage in personal prayer about it.
Sickness or poor health Loss of job or other economic stress
Problems with alcohol or drugs Educational problems (admissions, failure,
assistants hip)
Domestic violence (emotional, physical, Problems of loneliness and/or depression
and sexual) Problems with understanding responsibility
Problems with parent/child relationships and commitment
Problems with one’s parents or in-laws Communication/conflict issues in relationships
Unplanned and/or unwanted pregnancy Problems with self-worth/self-esteem
in the family Victimization by crime
Relational problems with one’s spouse
or dating partner

315
6. “The need to make connections between my life experience and faith tradition is:” Choose one
of the following.
l=Very strong in my life.
2=Strong in my life.
3=Moderate in my life.
4=Weak in my life.
5=Absent in my life.
7. “Lay Professionals in our Parish demonstrate in a formal way what all baptized persons are
called to do by the Church, by virtue of their Baptism.” Choose one of the following.
1=1 am very convinced.
2=1 am somewhat convinced.
3=1 am not convinced.
4=1 don’t know.
Your Parish Involvement
8.
Which parish do you belong to?
l=St. Benedict
2=St. Thomas
3=St. Justin
4=St. Francis
5=Other (Specify)
9. Indicate which of the following services do you now perform, or have you performed in the past,
for your parish?
1=1 currently perform that role.
2=1 have done it in the past but not now.
3=1 have never performed that role.

316
Eucharistic minister
Catechist/Religious Education Volunteer
Reader/Lector
Altar server/acolyte
Choir member/music ministry
Usher/hospitality
Sacristan
Education Committee member
Liturgy Committee member
Retreat Team Member
RCIA Sponsor
Prayer Couple
Sponsor Couple for the Engaged
Youth group leader or coordinator
10. Please express your opinion on the following programs of your parish.
l=Strongly satisfied
4=Somewhat dissatisfied
2=Somewhat satisfied
5=Strongly dissatisfied
3=Mixed feelings
0=No opinion or no basis forjudging
Training for Liturgical Ministers (Lector, EME’s, Altar Servers, etc.)
RCIA program (for receiving converts into the Church)
Baptism Preparation Adult educational programs
CCD program (Religious Education) Youth program for high school
Alpha program
Marriage preparation
Family and Marriage enrichment
Singles support group
Music
students
Bereavement ministry
Mass (schedule)
Baptism (schedule)
Mission programs
Divorced and separated support group
11. How much per week, on the average, do you currently give? (Write the sum in the space.)
$ to your parish
Your Background Questions
To end this survey we will ask you certain background questions about yourself. This will permit me to see if different
subgroups of Catholics—e g., different age groups or income categories—
cluster together. .
l=Male
Indicate your gender. 2=Female
12.

317
13. What is the year of your birth? (Write the last two digits in the space.
(For example: 46 for 1946).
14. Your highest education level.
1 =Elementary
6=Master’s (e.g. M.A., M.S., or MBA.)
2=High school
7=Specialist (e g. Ed.S.)
3=Some college
8=Graduate professional degree (e.g. J.D.)
4=College graduate
9=Doctorate (e.g. Ph D., M.D., or D.D.S.)
5=Some graduate or
professional school
15.How many years did you attend Catholic school (write number of years in the spaces)?
in grammar school? in high school? in college?
16. Are you currently a student (University, Community College, High School, etc.)?
0=Not now a student
l=Part-time student
2=Full-time student
17. What is your current employment status?
0=Not currently employed
3=Employed full-time
1 =Employed part-time
4=Retired
18. What is your current marital status?
0=Never married
3=Divorced
l=Married
4=Widowed
2=Separated

318
19.
Final question: What is the approximate gross annual income of your household?
1 =$0-9,999
2=$10,000-14,000
3=$15,000-19,000
4=$20,000-24,000
5=$25,000-29,000
6=$30,000-34,000
7=$35,000-39,000
8=$40,000-44,000
9=545,000-49,000
10=$50,000-74,000
11 =$75,000-99,000
12=$100,000-200,000
13=$200,000 and above

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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
Anthony S. Michaelraj was bom in Pallam, India, on September 26,1947. In May
1965 he graduated from Carmel High School in Nagercoil, India. He entered the
seminary in June 1965 to pursue studies in priesthood After the completion of two years
of Latin, three years of philosophy, one year of practicum, and four years of theology
he was ordained a priest on February 4, 1975. He earned a master’s degree in theological
studies in 1978 from the University of St.Thomas in Rome, Italy, and another master’s
degree in counselor education in 1987 from Northeast Louisiana University in Monroe,
Louisiana. He completed his studies for the Ph.D. in anthropology at the University of
Florida in 1997. He is currently the Chancellor of the Diocese of Kottar, in India.
327

I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and
quality, as a dissertation for the degree of-Doctor of Philosophy.
Gerald F. Murray, Chair
Associate Professor of Anthropology
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and
quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Paul L. DbughT
Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of
Anthropology
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it confirms to
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and
quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Leslie S. Lieberman
Associate Professor of Anthropology
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it confirms to
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and
quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Diedre Crumbléy
Assistant Professor of Anthropology

I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it confirms to
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and
quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Michael V. Gannon
Distinguished Service Professor of History
This dissertation was submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the Department of
Anthropology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and to the Graduate School
and was accepted as partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of
Philosophy.
December 1997
Dean, Graduate School




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