The Shared Parish

Latinos, Anglos, and the Future of U.S. Catholicism

304 pages

5 figures

August, 2014

ISBN: 9781479854394



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Brett C. Hoover is Assistant Professor of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. His previous books include Comfort: An Atlas for the Body and Soul. 

All books by Brett C. Hoover

As faith communities in the United States grow increasingly more diverse, many churches are turning to the shared parish, a single church facility shared by distinct cultural groups who retain their own worship and ministries. The fastest growing and most common of these are Catholic parishes shared by Latinos and white Catholics. Shared parishes remain one of the few institutions in American society that allows cultural groups to maintain their own language and customs while still engaging in regular intercultural negotiations over the shared space.

This book explores the shared parish through an in-depth ethnographic study of a Roman Catholic parish in a small Midwestern city demographically transformed by Mexican immigration in recent decades. Through its depiction of shared parish life, the book argues for new ways of imagining the U.S. Catholic parish as an organization. The parish, argues Brett C. Hoover, must be conceived as both a congregation and part of a centralized system, and as one piece in a complex social ecology. The Shared Parish also posits that the search for identity and adequate intercultural practice in such parishes might call for new approaches to cultural diversity in U.S. society, beyond assimilation or multiculturalism. We must imagine a religious organization that accommodates both the need for safe space within distinct groups and for social networks that connect these groups as they struggle to respectfully co-exist.


  • "Trained in theology and social science, adept in Catholic culture and in Spanish, Brett Hoover brilliantly captures the distinctly Catholic phenomenon of the shared parish. He writes with insight and compassion about the alternately tense and calm encounters that take place when two different groups find themselves living religiously together."

    —R. Stephen Warner, University of Illinois at Chicago

  • "Offers a full, rich, and highly satisfying analysis of the challenge of diversity in the Roman Catholic church of America. Yes, we know that broad demographic shifts are affecting the the Catholic church, but this book finally gives an intimate, contextually rich, and theologically astute presentation of ground-level workings of cultural diversity among faithful Catholics who strive to achieve unity amidst their clashing cultural heritages."

    —Gerardo Marti, author of Worship across the Racial Divide