Toward a Pastoral Theological Understanding of the Parish as a Place of Eucharistic Pilgrimage by Rev. C. Kevin Gillespie, S.J.

This paper examines the ways in which a Roman Catholic parish can be understood theologically as a place for pilgrimage toward a Eucharistic place in and through which a “culture of encounter” occurs and is fostered. A context is set for pastoral theological considerations through an overview of American Catholic history that offers lenses of the nineteenth- and twentieth-century patterns of Catholic immigration to the United States, as well as current demographics and the phenomenon of disaffiliation. In addition, this paper considers the ways by which contemporary spiritual movements may find their place within a parish. In this respect, a parish is seen as providing a sense of pilgrimage toward “the Eucharistic place,” enabling it to serve as a vehicle for the Church’s efforts toward a “new evangelization.” The author’s parish, Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Washington, DC, is presented as an example.

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