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December 29, 2009

The Gritty Life of a Real Parish

Scenes from a Parish, airing on PBS tonight, grounded in everyday reality

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Scenes from a Parish, which airs tonight on PBS (check local listings), is absorbing, conscience-stirring, and occasionally tinged with political correctness, but grounded in everyday reality. This superbly filmed Independent Lens documentary centers on St. Patrick Parish in Lawrence, Massachusetts, the poorest city in the state and the 23rd poorest in the nation.

Led by a Harvard-educated activist priest from an affluent family, the congregation—some members wholeheartedly, others grudgingly—reaches out to immigrants, to the hungry and the homeless, to “the least of these.” Over the course of several years, during which the parish raises money to build a center that provides free meals with no strings attached, the film’s director and producer, James Rutenbeck, tracks the lives of a handful of parishioners against the background of the larger story of the church’s calling.

We see people transformed by the love of Christ, and we see instances of failure, confusion, and disappointment. Many scenes in the sanctuary—including a beautifully simple foot-washing ceremony—remind us that there should be no disjunction between worship and service to the community.

Here's the trailer:

John Wilson is editor of Books & Culture, one of CT's sister publications

Comments

thank you..

The ninety minutes of this opus passed quickly, as many items of interest were quietly raised. In my area also, Jewish people help charitable works of churches. They deserve thanks and praise. I wondered about the arrival of the Italian, Slavic, and Quebec immigrants to the hard work of the Merrimack Valley in the past, and how each group needed work with substantive income.
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I worried about the pastor as a "one-man show." The work of founders of some Catholic religious orders continued because they happened to build institutes. I wondered about the life and activity of storefront churches in Lawrence.
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During one of the overflight views, the narrator mentioned beautiful suburbs around Lawrence. Some regions have that characteristic; in other parts of our nation and the world the poverty is widespread.
Many thanks for a thought-provoking film. Joe

I worried about the pastor as a "one-man show." The work of founders of some Catholic religious orders continued because they happened to build institutes. I wondered about the life and activity of storefront churches in Lawrence.

The work of founders of some Catholic religious orders continued because they happened to build institutes

I wondered about the life and activity of storefront churches in Lawrence.

The work of founders of some Catholic religious orders continued because they happened to build institutes

The work of founders of some Catholic religious orders continued because they happened to build institutes

I worried about the pastor as a "one-man show." The work of founders of some Catholic religious orders continued because they happened to build institutes. I wondered about the life and activity of storefront churches in Lawrence.

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