When it comes to the state of the Catholic parish, we tend to focus on the bad news: declining vocations to the priesthood, dwindling congregation sizes, even parochial mergers and closures. For the people in the pews, it’s easy to feel like the Catholic church today is dying. 

But that’s not the whole story, and of course as Catholics, we believe in resurrection. On this episode we hear from two of the most knowledgeable, hopeful voices in the American church: Susan Bigelow Reynolds, an expert theologian who studies “lived ecclesiology” at the parochial level, and Fr. Hector Madrigal, pastor of the multi-ethnic and multi-lingual St. Joseph’s Church in Amarillo, Texas.

Together they urge us not to be afraid, suggesting that there’s never been a better time than now to begin the ‘heart’ work of power sharing and ecclesial integration. 

And don’t miss the next episode of the Commonweal Podcast, when we’ll be joined by three leading lay Catholics who tell us what parishes could do to be more welcoming to aspiring preachers, families, and LGBTQ Catholics. 


“Our models of church life are proving themselves in many ways to be insufficient to the needs of the church today. But we don’t need to be afraid.”—Susan Bigelow Reynolds
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