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Posted January 28, 2005

Book: Many Faces, One Church: Cultural Diversity and the American Catholic Experience
Editors: Peter C. Phan, and Diana Hayes
Sheed and Ward, New York, pp.147

An Excerpt from the Introduction:

The present collection of essays makes no pretensions to covering all the issues — even the most important ones — posed by these ethnic Catholics to the American Catholic Church and theology. They simply highlight some of the opportunities and challenges lying ahead as the American Church tries to respond to the presence of new immigrants in its midst. Mark Stelzer draws attention to the increasing presence of non-Anglo theologians teaching in U.S. Catholic colleges and universities and their contributions to Catholic theology. He also shows how the new theological method espoused by these theologians may be helpful in brokering a peaceful merging of national parishes that are no longer viable because of the dwindling membership of former ethnic parishioners. Kevin Burke, of Irish descent, reflects on how cultural diversity, which has always been a hallmark of American Catholicism, is a blessing for theology.

The remaining chapters give a bird-eye’s view of the riches as well as the challenges that the “new faces” are bringing to the American Catholic Church.

Diana Hayes recalls the history of Black Catholics in the United States and highlights five challenges facing Black Catholics and the church.

Roberto S. Goizueta reflects on the contributions of Hispanic or Latino/a Catholicism, especially its popular religious practices, to Christian faith.

Jeanette Rodriguez examines one practice dear to the hearts of all Mexican Americans, namely, the devotion to our Lady of Guadalupe, and its manifestations in worship.

Peter C. Phan introduces the recent Catholic immigrants from Asia and the Pacific Islands and the distinctive cultural and religious gifts they bring to both the United States and American Catholic Church.

Finally, Gerard Boodoo reflects on the different ways of doing theology appropriate to the “forced context” of the Caribbean and on the vocation/calling of the church in these islands.

An Excerpt from the Book:

A typical Latino mass envelops the participant in a cacophony of sounds, images, colors, and scents. Whenever possible, the persons with whom one worships are not just looked at out of the corner of one’s eye, but are given a heartfelt embrace; the statue of Mary or the crucifix are not just looked at prayerfully, but are touched, kissed, caressed, and embraced. To be in relationship with another is to be in physical contact with him or her, whether that person is a neighbor or Jesus.

This communal, sacramental worldview shared by Latinos and Latinas is becoming increasingly threatened by a U.S. Catholic Church that is often perceived as individualistic, cold, and, therefore, alienating. The Latino experience of worship as a common celebration, involving and affirming the bonds of family and community, too often finds little sustenance in the U.S. Church. It should the come as no surprise that Latinos and Latinas are increasingly attracted to Protestant Evangelical and Pentecostal groups which emphasize these bonds in their worship services, their communal life, and their welcoming outreach to new immigrants. Consequently, these Protestant communities are, in some ways, more familiar to Latino Catholics than is the Catholicism they encounter in most U.S. parishes.

Table of Contents:

Mark Stelzer

Introduction: The New Faces of the American Catholic Church
Peter C. Phan

1. A New Ecclesial Reality and a New Way of Doing Theology: Heeralding a New Pentecost
Mark Stelzer

2. Thinking about the Church: The Gift of Cultural Diversity to Theology
Kevin F. Burke

3. Black Catholics in the United States: A Subversive Memory
Diana Hayes

4. Reflecting on America as a Single Entity: Catholicism and U.S. Latinos
Roberto S. Goizueta

5. Devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe among Mexican Americans
Jeanette Rodriguez

6. “Presence and Prominence in the Lord’s House”: Asians and Pacific People in the American Catholic Church
Peter C. Phan

7. Understanding Church and Theology in the Caribbean Today
Gerald Boodoo

Selected Bibliography