Friday, March 14, 2014
Book Review of A Hemorrahging Church: Evangelization and the Neocatechumenal Way
Yesterday, as I was browsing through Amazon.com, I found a book about the Neocatechumenal Way written by Robert V. Thomann. So, I ordered the book. The book hasn't arrived yet, but I'm looking forward to reading it. If anyone is interested in learning more about the Neocatechumenal Way and want to order the book, I provided the weblink below in Amazon.com. Below is a written review of the book.
Dr. Robert V. Thomann's excellent and insightful study presents the crisis confronting the Church in America and outlines how the Neocatechumenal Way (one of the most dynamic charisms in the Church) has provided a powerful solution to the problem of declining Church attendance and the growing phenomenon of lapsed Catholics in the United States. Thomann is especially well qualified to discuss these matters. The book is based on his dissertation, which he wrote for his Doctor in Ministry degree from Fordham University (2011). He also holds an M.A. in Systematic Theology from Seton Hall University (2007). He has served as a permanent deacon for the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey since 1977. His theological background is complemented by his earlier work as an oceanographer and civil engineer. Having seen many historical as well as socio-cultural changes in the life of the American Catholic Church, having undergone a varied career as an academic, and having experienced the hope and potential of the vibrant charism of the Neocatechumenal Way, Robert Thomann is uniquely positioned to make comments on the state of affairs in American Catholic life and the possible solutions that the Neocatechumenal Way offers to the Church-at-large.
The first half of the book presents information that is familiar to many Americans aware of affairs in the Catholic Church--that Roman Catholicism in America is facing a monumental drop in baptisms, marriages, and Church attendance (which mirrors the situation confronting the Church in Europe and the rest of the Western world). Thomann takes pains to point out that, although the crisis facing the Church in America seems less dramatic than that facing Europe, statistics do not lie and point to a significantly smaller Roman Catholic Church in the future and the presence of many lapsed Catholics who, for a variety of reasons, are leaving the Church in droves. Indeed, he makes a point of saying that if these rates of decline continue, the Roman Catholic Church in the United States will see massive declines in the overall Catholic population of the country that have not been seen since the beginning of the twentieth century.
The second half of the book presents a succinct no-nonsense description of the charism of the Neocatechumenal Way, its origins, how it functions as part of parish life, and how this charism has the potential to revitalize and strengthen the embattled Catholic Church in the United States. Thomann writes with grace and simplicity in his explanation of the Neocatechumenal Way. He also has the benefit of having been involved in this charism for almost two decades, lending his own personal experience and perspectives to his stimulating study.
For any Catholic who is interested in understanding the root causes of the decline in Church attendance, why baptisms are declining, and why so many Catholics are leaving the Church, this is definitely a good place to start. If you are looking for hope, for possible solutions to the crisis facing American Catholics I highly recommend this timely study. Moreover, for those who want a clear understanding of what the charism of the Neocatechumenal Way is, how it functions, what its place in the Roman Catholic Church is, and what the fruits of this dynamic charism are, I can think of no better book in English than Thomann's succinct study. He dispels the myths and misconceptions about the state of American Catholicism while providing very concrete solutions to the challenges we face in the future.
A Hemorrahging Church: Evangelization and the Neocatechumenal Way