home page links quotes statistics mission statement success stories resources Lighter Side Authors! Search Page

The heart and soul of our project will be the good ideas, common sense, and heartfelt wisdom we receive from everyone who participates. We're looking forward to hearing from all of you and we encourage you to be brief and concise in your comments -- unless the spirit moves you! It's been my experience that sometimes it's easier to read two short messages than one long one so we would ask you to keep that in mind as you contribute to our forum on the priesthood.

Here's our Discussion Question:

The Catholic Church thrives on the imagination and creativity of its members. What two issues do you think are most in need of “The Catholic Imagination” -- and what imaginative changes would you envision?

A $200 prize will be awarded for the most creative and imaginative response!

How to Participate:

1. After you click on the header above to enter the Discussion Forum --

3. Click on the words "Current Question"

4. Read any replies that interest you -- or post your own by clicking on "New Topic" and posting your thoughts on the question.

5. If you decide to enter a new topic -- just click on New Topic -- fill out the name form -- or leave it as guest -- enter a subject for your post -- then click on the white portion of the open box to enter your text. Then click submit to post.

As always, let us know if you have any questions.

Reviving the Catholic Imagination

Eugene Hemrick

“The Catholic Church thrives on the imagination and creativity of its members. What two issues do you think are most in need of ‘The Catholic Imagination’ -– and what imaginative changes would you envision?”

This question is the latest to be posted for discussion on the National Institute for the Renewal of the Priesthood [website www.jknirp.com.]

What do we mean by Catholic Imagination? Has the church lost it?

Imagination is the ability to visualize: the ability to form images and ideas in the mind, especially of things never seen or never experienced directly.

When we envision imaginative people, we visualize them thinking out of the box and having an entrepreneur spirit.

When we add the attribute Catholic to imagination, it conjures up images of saints founding new orders and taking to the streets in order to respond to the need for greater religious fervor and reaching out to the destitute. It pictures philosophers and theologians generating fresh insights into life and religion. It reminds us of church movements in which the scriptures, the liturgy, and social justice experienced revitalization.

Catholic Imagination is an energizing spirit that says: there is no such thing as living neutrally, either we experiment and go forward, or we go backwards.

If we compare the past to the present, Catholic Imagination has definitely diminished. It is true there are more imaginative books being written than in the past, and that we have outstanding imaginative clergy and lay leaders. It is likewise true that the local church contains many new programs never imagined before. What is missing is the deep seeded feeling that we embrace experimentation. Furthermore, we are restless with the status quo, but won’t march against it. We have enthusiasm, but we won’t venture into the unknown. Individually we have imagination, but as a whole we don’t spark each other with it to create new movements.

At one time it was common to hear priests and the laity say: don’t ask for permission, just do it. You can always beg for forgiveness after. At present, this spirit is rare.

Catholic Imagination is needed like never before. The growing number of parishes without a priest is calling for imaginative thinking about the lifestyle of priests, the new responsibilities of lay leaders, and ways of operating parishes. The influx in immigrants needs a whole new missionary approach if the church is not to lose them. The church’s efforts in research are far too inadequate. We have few to no new, exciting experiments. Data bases that need constant updating are antiquated. With the new age of technology, we have no philosophers addressing the impact that the Internet is having on the human spirit, and what our information age is doing to our thinking, especially about God, and our church. In the area of bio-ethics, we could use quadruple the number moral theologians we have.

The number of imaginative projects facing the church is mind-boggling, but even more so, exciting. Now is the time to join the discussion on the Catholic Imagination and help the church get a new life.

If you have any problems, please let us know!
Send your comments to
Father Hemrick by clicking on his name.