We were very lucky in both North Carolina and Texas to find lively parishes, with great priests and who focused on the social teachings of the church. We have not been so lucky here in Pennsylvania. So far, we have been to 3 different parishes in hopes of finding our new church home and have come home feeling underwhelmed and unimpressed each week.
We have a mental list of things we are looking for:
1. actively promotes social teaching of the church through helping the poor and needy
2. a lively priest who gives good homilies that relate to the world and our everyday lives
3. good music
4. a church where we as a young family feel welcome to bring our kids who may not be silent during the entire mass (Greta certainly isn’t loud, but she makes a little noise here and there and we don’t want stares or to feel like we are the only ones with a child who is making a little noise) (basically a church filled with other little tykes)
5. a church with an active mother’s group for me to be involved in (although I did start a playgroup at our last church, so I am open to starting my own group)
6. a church with personality
The three churches we have been to are very blah. Only one seems to have a good number of young children. We like the priests at a different church, but apparently the priest we were impressed by just got reassigned to a church in Philadelphia. Only one church has a mother’s group. None of them really have very good music (I personally am not a huge fan of organ music, unless it is in a huge church and there is an awesome choir to accompany it).
One thing that is certainly different here is that every church has a parish school. I know this is how pretty much the entire Catholic church was several decades ago, but today that seems to be a rarity. The parishes all seem to be pretty focused on their schools, which is maybe why we aren’t finding the focus on other things. I don’t know much about the different schools, other than one is significantly larger (and supposedly better, but that is just what I have heard through the grapevine) and costs a great deal more. Another difference which I’m not a big fan of, is that children receive the sacrament of confirmation in 6th grade! Personally Matt and I think that is WAY too early for a child to be making that commitment. At that age it is the parents decision, which is not the point of confirmation at all. I was confirmed in 9th grade and I still think that was too early. Our church in San Antonio celebrated confirmation in either 11th or 12th grade (it was up to the child to decide when they were ready to make that commitment). Maybe things will change before our children are ready for confirmation, but I doubt it since we seem to be in a pretty conservative diocese.
We want to find a church where we feel comfortable and where we will attend for a long time. I don’t want to hop around to different parishes all the time. So far we just haven’t found where we belong. Hopefully we will figure it out soon since we will have a new baby to baptize sometime this spring.