The death, on August 19, of Monsignor Philip J. Murnion at age sixty-five was a great loss to the Catholic Church in the United States. He was not only a leading scholar of parish life, but as director of the National Pastoral Life Center, which he founded in 1983, he worked tirelessly to pump rich blood into those basic units of the People of God
He and the center’s staff did this with an endless round of conferences, training programs, workshops, and publications. Those projects, listed in Church, the center’s award-winning quarterly magazine, include training programs for new pastors and parish ministers; conventions for parish priests and lay parish leaders; workshops on organizing and evaluating small Christian communities; books on priesthood, liturgy, moral theology, faith formation, and lay parish ministry; pamphlets with practical guidance on liturgical and catechetical matters; and monographs on specific issues for bishops and diocesan staff.
The center has conducted and collaborated on research projects. It serves as the institutional base for Cardinal Joseph Bernardin’s Common Ground Initiative, organizing the Initiative’s own array of conferences and publications. It provides similar services for the Roundtable, an association of diocesan social-action directors.
That list of regular activities does not include the special consulting, speaking, evaluating, and planning that Msgr....