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‘That’s the future of the Catholic Church in the United States’

Alejandro C

“That” is the Diocese of Orange in California. The Los Angeles Times explains:

On any given Sunday, the Garden Grove campus of Christ Cathedral — a postmodern glass structure accompanied by an 18-story stainless steel steeple that serves as the hub of Catholic life in Orange County — is a flurry of different languages.

A 6:15 a.m. Mass in Vietnamese is followed by a 7:45 a.m. Mass in Spanish, then ones in English, Chinese and Spanish again — and on throughout the day.

“One of the blessings is that it’s such a mix of all the different cultures here,” said Bishop Kevin Vann of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange. “It creates a healthy dynamism of energy and enthusiasm. One day I can go from Vietnamese to Spanish to English, and that really invigorates me — and I think it does for the whole diocese.”

This multiculturalism is one reason why, scholars say, during a time of priest shortages, parish closures and thinning ranks in the pews, the Diocese of Orange is now among the fastest-growing dioceses in the United States and home to 1.3 million Catholics.

“Every church in Orange County would be considered a mega-church in other dioceses on the East Coast or center part of the country,” said Father John Moneypenny, director of vocation for the Diocese of Orange. “Our parishes have 4,000 families each, so you’ve got 10,000, 12,000, 14,000 people coming through church on a Sunday.”

Perhaps most striking is that the diocese faces no priest shortage at a time when 20% of parishes throughout the country don’t have a resident priest, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University.

Read more. 

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