Catholics Create ‘Intentional’ Community Of Like-Minded Believers

Enlarge this imageAmy Clayton teaches a fifth-grade history course at St. Jerome Academy in Hyattsville, Md. The college, which almost shut 8 many years ago, has skilled advancement above the previous few years, mainly due to an influx of Catholic households who were being drawn to Hyattsville by a drive to are living amongst some others who share their values.Tom Gjelten/NPRhide captiontoggle captionTom Gjelten/NPRAmy Clayton teaches a fifth-grade record course at St. Jerome Academy in Hyattsville, Md. The school, which just about closed 8 a long time in the past, has profe sional growth more than the previous few decades, largely resulting from an influx of Catholic families who had been drawn to Hyattsville by a need to are living amid many others who share their values.Tom Gjelten/NPRAt a time of declining church attendance throughout America and increasing disenchantment with regular faith, a Catholic parish in Hyattsville, Md., thrives by embracing the pretty orthodoxy other congregations have deserted. St. Jerome Catholic Church and its affiliated university, St. Jerome Academy, have both profe sional extraordinary expansion above the previous couple years, largely as a consequence of an influx of households drawn for the parish’s name like a haven for conservative Catholics in search of to live among the other folks who share their values. “The parish daily life was vital to us,” claims Daniel Gibbons, forty, who teaches at Catholic College in nearby Washington, D.C., and moved to Hyattsville along with his younger spouse and children 4 decades back. “I know from my very own childhood that it can be really hard to elevate kids as being a Catholic for those who never po se s a community of other Catholics who are seeking to make the faith real within their everyday life and lift the kids in ways in which are harmonious with their faith.” Been There: Le sons From the Shared ExperienceEntering Spiritual Lifestyle Would not Imply Leaving The entire world Behind Several in the new St. Jerome households previously were house schooling their young children, immediately after disappointing encounters in both public and parochial schools. “Faith-based training was extremely important to us,” claims Julia Dickson, 37, who moved to Hyattsville with her spouse two many years in the past from a Baltimore suburb. “There was no [private] college which i felt was any distinct from the public school by using a faith course tacked on,” she states. “I preferred one thing with all the Lord because the centre with the total working day.” St. Jerome Academy, which just about had to near its doorways 8 several years back due to economical difficulties and small enrollment, experienced a spectacular turnaround after switching to a “cla sical” curriculum which has a significant emphasis to the record of Western civilization, taught usually on the subject of the Bible and the advancement of Christian religion. The town of Hyattsville alone, with a populace of scarcely seventeen,000, is usually an attraction to those younger Catholic people. Even though located just outside of the D.C. limitations, the historic community was recognized before the auto age and it is very walkable. A critical collecting location is definitely the Vigilante Coffee Roastery & Cafe, situated around the corner from the church as well as the university. Young mothers, many with babies in tow, congregate there each morning. The cafe manager is a former teacher from Los Angeles who also serves given that the youth minister at St. Jerome.Pope Francis ‘ 2015 U.S. Tour’It’s All About Church Closings’: Catholic Parishes Shrink In Northeast, Midwest Most from the family members stay within a 2-mile radius. “Our kids are continually at each other’s homes,” says Michelle Trudeau, 48, a mother of six who home-schooled her 4 oldest young children in advance of enrolling them at the parish college, where she is now the a sistant principal. “As parents, we know we can trust what’s going on in that other house,” she says. “We know that if anything goes on with our kids, other parents are looking out for them. We all become parents of each other’s small children.” The tightne s from the Hyattsville Catholic community developed deliberately, not accidentally. The e sential figure in its expansion was Chris Currie, a former nonprofit executive who moved to Hyattsville 20 several years back and now serves as director of institutional advancement at the parish college. “It started with me inviting people I knew to come here,” he states. “My sister’s household was the first to move here, followed by a couple of friends. Other families came here to become part of your foundation, and then by word of mouth people heard about it and came here thanks to the heightened group everyday living.” Enlarge this imageAbout a dozen Catholic women in Hyattsville gather each week to pray the rosary together.Tom Gjelten/NPRhide captiontoggle captionTom Gjelten/NPRAbout a dozen Catholic women in Hyattsville gather each week to pray the rosary together.Tom Gjelten/NPRAs an “intentional” community centered on a parish and its faculty, Hyattsville came to the attention of Rod Dreher, a writer specializing in Christian culture. In his best-selling and widely discu sed new book, The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation, Dreher urges conservative Christians in The united states to withdraw from culture wars and partisan politics and focus instead on deepening their personal faith through a semi-monastic lifestyle. Dreher’s model is St. Benedict, the sixth century monk recognized given that the founder of Western monasticism. “We have to develop creative, communal solutions to help us hold on to our religion and our values in a globe growing ever more hostile to them,” Dreher writes. He describes the Hyattsville Catholic group in his book as “a strong model of being in the world but not of it.”Pope Francis’ 2015 U.S. TourBuilt By Immigrants, U.S. Catholic Churches Bolstered By Them Once Again In an interview with NPR, Dreher lamented the replacement of “traditional” Christianity with “pseudo-Christianity,” which he described as “all about feeling good and happy about yourself.” “For a lot of people in modernity,” Dreher said, “religion has become sort of a psychological help. It has become a way of rationalizing what we want to do anyway and putting a little Jesus sauce on top to help make it go down easily.” There is little “pseudo” about the Catholicism lived in Hyattsville. Bible study groups meet regularly, and a dozen or more women in the group gather weekly to say the rosary together, a custom that has become rare amongst Catholics more generally. The women pray towards the sound of crying babies and squealing toddlers. “We’re extremely open to lifestyle,” explains 32-year-old Jane Murphy, who has three kids under the age of 5. “In the Catholic Church, we do not believe in artificial contraception, and that results in a lot of babies!”Pope Francis’ 2015 U.S. TourAt U.S. Seminaries, A Rise In Millennials Answering God’s Call The community’s adherence to official church doctrine also means the Hyattsville Catholics are increasingly in a cultural minority. They differ with many in the LGBT entire world, for example, about such i sues as same-sex marriage, which the Vatican opposes. “I think that what the church teaches about marriage will be the best for family members existence,” says Gibbons, the Catholic University profe sor. Whether the neighborhood reflects Dreher’s “Benedict Option” is a matter of some dispute, however, in part mainly because many in the Hyattsville Catholics are deeply engaged in the broader society and say they do not feel marginalized, angry or alienated. Many have advanced degrees and work profe sionally. Unlike other conservative Christians, they are not easy to categorize politically, having split their votes about evenly between Donald Trump and other candidates in the 2016 election. Jane Murphy (shown here with two of her three little ones), moved to Hyattsville along with her husband to be part in the local Catholic group and send their kids to St. Jerome Academy.Tom Gjelten /NPRhide captiontoggle captionTom Gjelten /NPRCurrie, the local community founder, looks for comparison towards the experience with the early Christians under Roman rule, when they thrived despite vicious persecution. “They lived joyful lives, and they attracted converts by the example of their life,” he states. “I think that’s what we’re attempting to do, dwell the way they did. Not dwell defensively, in sort of a paranoid xenophobic reaction to your rest of society, but to realize that we’re all human beings created in the image of God, and to are living that lifestyle ourselves and share it with our neighbors.” Critics say the risk in people choosing deliberately to dwell in a like-minded neighborhood is that it may not equip them well to deal while using the challenges and opportunities of a pluralistic society, but the Hyattsville Catholics question that premise. “For me personally,” suggests Murphy, “living in this local community has strengthened my religion so which i can go out on the wider community, the secular group, and talk with confidence about my religion. I is often accepting of other people but still be confident about telling them about my faith.”Correction April 11, 2017 In an earlier Web version of this story, we said conservative Catholics split their votes about evenly between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. In fact, many non-Trump voters chose third-party candidates, not Clinton.