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Where ministerial rubber meets the road


Catholics speak of “youth ministry,” “music ministry,” “prison ministry” -- we have so many ministries it’s hard to know exactly what the word means. In its broadest sense, ministry is simply the doing of the Lord’s work -- in which case, just about any human act is potentially a ministry if it’s performed with an eye to building the reign of God.

Whatever ministry means, Catholics seem to agree on where it finds its preeminent expression -- in the parish. It is here that the ecclesiastical rubber, so to speak, meets the road. It is in the parish that Catholics gather to celebrate birth, mourn death and share their lives with one another. It is in the parish, above all, that Catholics find the face of Christ -- or, at least, that’s the idea. Some parishes, sadly, are cold, anonymous places where Christ’s presence is far from palpable.

But, happily, such is not always the case. In this special ministries issue, NCR editor-at-large Arthur Jones introduces us to the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Biloxi, Miss. Here, the people of the parish work hard at making their corner of the “Little Easy” a warm, welcoming spiritual home.

NCR columnist Kris Berggren describes a parish program in Minnesota that is boosting lay involvement in a big way.

Although Capuchin Fr. Michael Scully is a parish pastor, he also ministers to people in some rather unusual ways. Most notably, he hosts his own top-40 radio program, drawing life lessons from such disparate sources as Nirvana and BoyzIIMen. A profile of Jesuit Fr. Bob Fabing also illustrates the varied dimensions of ministry today.

Ministry indeed takes many shapes. In these pages, may you find nourishment in the peculiar form practiced at NCR.

National Catholic Reporter, October 17, 1997