Catholic Parishes of the 21st Century

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Charles E. Zech, Thomas P. Gaunt, Mary L. Gautier, Mark M. Gray, Jonathon L. Wiggins
  • London, England: 
    Oxford University Press
    , February
     184 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.
Review coming soon!

Review by Hosffman Ospino forthcoming.


A seminal moment in the study of U.S. Catholic parish life came in the 1980s with the publication of a series of reports from the ground-breaking Notre Dame Study of Catholic Parish Life. These reports are now badly outdated, as Catholic dioceses grapple with new challenges that didn't exist in the 80s. Topics that were not considered then, like greater Catholic mobility, increased cultural diversity, and structural re-organization as well as the rise of lay leadership, have attained new significance. 

This timely book, based on more than a decade of research, provides an in-depth portrait and analysis of the current state of parish life and leadership. Unique in the scope of the research and the timeliness of its findings, the book critically examines the current state of parish life. The authors draw on data from national polls of Catholics, national surveys of parishes, and thousands of in-pew surveys which explore parishioners' needs, experiences, and satisfaction with parish life in the twenty-first century. The book provides a unique 360-degree view of parish life from the perspective of pastors, parish staff, parishioners, as well as the larger Catholic population.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Charles Zech is a professor of economics in the Villanova University School of Business and the Director of Villanova's Center for Church Management. He is the author or co-author of over 50 articles and 12 books on the topic of church management.

Mary L. Gautier is a sociologist and senior research associate at CARA. She specializes in Catholic demographic trends in the United States. She edits The CARA Report, and is the co-author of eight books on Catholicism.

Mark M. Gray is the director of CARA Catholic Polls and a senior research associate at CARA. A political scientist, he specializes at CARA in attitudinal and polling research. He teaches in Georgetown University's Catholic Studies and Liberal Studies programs.

Jonathon Wiggins is a CARA researcher whose primary focus is helping parishes to plan for the future through Parish Life Surveys. He teaches part-time at Georgetown University, where he once served as a chaplain-in-residence. 

Thomas P. Gaunt, S.J. is the executive director at CARA. Prior to CARA, he served in Jesuit governance on the national and province level for sixteen years, and earlier on was a pastor and director of planning in the Dioces of Charlotte for ten years.

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