Competing Voices: Effective and Pastoral Preaching in a Changing Catholic Parish

John Cantirino, Fordham University


This study involves preaching as a pastoral agent within a local Brooklyn parish that is undergoing rapid change happening at both the parishioner and clergy levels. For a very long period the parish consisted of multi-generational parishioners of European descent, in a parish that is physically bounded so as to afford a high degree of protection/isolation. Additionally, until recently all the pastors and other parish staff were of similar ethnic backgrounds as the parishioners. Recently, there has been an influx of other ethnic groups and younger people into the parish, along with both the pastor and resident priest being foreign born. The parish is now a complex mixture of ages, ethnicities, languages, and cultures. This study addresses how preaching can be truly pastoral in a parish that is no longer uniform in demographics. Each group in the parish may have a different understanding of what it means to be pastoral, the role of the preacher, their specific needs based on age, ethnicity, or culture, and issues that are relevant to living a life of faith. This study involves a focus group to flush out issues, viewpoints, and direction to generate questions for individual interviews with other parishioners. Both the focus group and individual interviewees represent the diversity currently found in the parish. An outcome of this study is multiple recommendations can guide the preaching so it is more effective and pastoral so it can more potently address the various pastoral needs of the diverse parishioners. This involves the content of the preaching, parishioner understanding of the role of the preacher, the relationship between parishioner and preacher, and expectations of pastoral preaching.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Cantirino, John, "Competing Voices: Effective and Pastoral Preaching in a Changing Catholic Parish" (2019). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI13857789.