A new parish renewal program centered on the theme of Eucharist is now available from Paulist Evangelization Ministries.
The components include a prayer campaign, bulletin inserts, family activities, discipleship groups for teens, discipleship groups for adults, a personal reflection booklet, and more. There is an emphasis on quality celebration of the Eucharist, and outreach to inactive Catholics and the unchurched. (Full disclosure: I wrote some of the materials. I think it’s a worthwhile project, and I highly recommend it.)
As you can see from the list of components, Living the Eucharist is designed as a whole-parish program. Happily, all the materials are available in both English and Spanish. The project director is Fr. Kenneth Boyack, CP, of Paulist Evangelization Ministries, a well-known advocate and leader in the field of Catholic evangelization. The inspiration for the program is Pope Benedict’s apostolic exhortation, The Sacrament of Charity.
Their website has samples of the materials and an introductory video.
All of the materials carry a positive, affirming tone. Yet, without belaboring the fact, the program seeks to address one of the most significant problems the Catholic Church faces today: declining Mass attendance. According to William V. D’Antonio, et al, in the book American Catholics Today (Rowman and Littlefield, 2007, 55) 75% of adult Catholics attended Mass weekly in 1945, 70% in 1965, 53% in 1985, 43% in 1995, and 34% in 2005. A CARA study in 2008 reported that the number of adult Catholics attending Mass weekly had fallen to 23% (Mark M. Gray and Paul M. Pearl in Sacraments Today, Belief and Practice Among U.S. Catholics (CARA 2008, 20). Crisis or missionary opportunity? Either way, there is a strong motivation to strengthen our collective commitment to the Eucharist as a regular, weekly event in the life of the people.