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Parish 'ministry' and parish closings

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | May 23, 2012

In the Boston Herald, a report on the latest failed attempt to persuade the Vatican to stop parish closings came with this headline:

Minister holds out faith decades-old Hub church will reopen

Minister? At a Catholic parish church? The Church’s influence isn’t what it once was in Boston, but don’t the headline writers know that the “minister” at a Catholic church should be identified as a priest?

The explanation comes a few paragraphs into the story. The man still holding out faith that Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish will reopen, despite multiple adverse decisions from the Vatican, is “Lorenzo Grasso, a Eucharistic minister.”

Aha!

Unless he’s an ordained priest or deacon—which he isn’t—Mr. Grasso isn’t really a Eucharistic minister. He’s an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. But we can’t expect tabloid newspapers to maintain a distinction that Catholics routinely gloss over.

If an ordinary lay member of a parish is perceived as a “minister” because he performs a special service, that’s further evidence that we’ve lost an appreciation for the meaning of the Catholic priesthood. If we’ve lost that appreciation, it’s not surprising that fewer young men respond to the vocational call to priestly ministry. And if there are fewer priests, no wonder parishes are closing.

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  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Jun. 15, 2012 2:32 PM ET USA

    Eucharistic Adoration has turned the situation around in our diocese, and I am sure it would do the same in the Boston Archdiocese.

  • Posted by: Michael Burton - May. 23, 2012 12:08 PM ET USA

    While we're at it, let's bring up the fact that I regularly see priests take a seat during the distribution of Holy Communion, giant fleets of EMHC's, and said fleets taking their vessels into the back for a little while implying that they are purifying the vessels. Add to this the fact that the majority of these EMHC's are women and therefore not acolytes.

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