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09/27/2010

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Patrick S. O'Donnell

This reminded me of why my parents quit attending Mass: When our family moved from Texas in 1969, where they had been fairly active in the church (and I was an 'altar boy'!), they had a difficult time fitting in the new parish. When they had previously moved from Illinois to Texas, they found the parishioners warmly welcoming and quite friendly (perhaps it was a 'Southern thing'), but upon arriving in California, they perceived the church members to be fairly cliquish if not clannish (e.g., many were of Italian descent and were a bit reluctant to accept non-Italians into their social circle). And (for want of a better term) larger cultural forces probably played an exacerbating role as well: mores in California were a bit different and my folks were not immune from their effects.

Perhaps there's a lesson here: in a highly mobile society such as ours it's difficult to maintain the sense of community which church attendance and membership provides, as it seems to presuppose some minimal degree of social stability conspicuous by its absence. So one might add this to the variables cited by Marty (and it may be symptomatic of a greater inability to form meaningful communities generally, as opposed to mere groups).

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