Diversity in Catholic Parishes

My recent book Parish and Place fosters a conversation about diversity (and its limits) in expressions of local Catholicism. I was interviewed and quoted in a Philadelphia Inquirer story by reporter Kristin E. Holmes that engages such themes. From the article:

“Indeed, parishioners who are part of an increasingly diverse Catholic church often seek ‘ways to feel at home’ in the congregations, said Tricia Bruce, an associate professor of sociology at Maryville College in Tennessee and author of  Parish and Place: Making Room for Diversity in the American Catholic Church. Also, new movements can create parish spaces where members can try something new that will make them excited to go to Mass, she said.”

Read the story in its entirety.

Thank you to the Louisville Institute and Appalachian College Association

As I launch into the research behind my next book, I am grateful to the Louisville Institute for a $30,000 Project Grant for Researchers and the Appalachian College Association for a $6,000 Faculty Fellowship.

This support will be instrumental as I travel the country to assess religious building “conversions” and transitions: i.e., spaces that go from “church” / religious use into “non” religious use. What happens to religious buildings when they are sold? How does “church” repurposing (re)shape neighborhoods, and residents’ relationships to religion and community?

This research is poised to inform a wide inquiry into the place of religion in modern cities, where declines of affiliation and attendance foreshadow declines in infrastructure needs. Religious buildings stand as a residual cultural markers, when (if) preserved. “Church” in the city takes new meanings.

A big THANK YOU to the Louisville Institute and Appalachian College Association for seeing the value in this research and my ability to complete it. Follow along for updates along the way…and stay tuned for future publications!

Calling out the tides of institutional change

In my interview with the Tribune de Genève (www.tdg.ch), a daily paper in Switzerland, I reference the tides of change that come with recognizing cultures of harassment. The excerpt and translation are below; read the full article here.

[Original French]
Tricia Bruce, une professeure de sociologie au Maryville College, estime que le danger pour Donald Trump n’est pas peut-être pas immédiat, mais que les hommes au pouvoir, suspectés de comportement déplacé, auront du souci à se faire tôt ou tard. «Dans certains cas comme celui de Donald Trump, les électeurs du parti républicain sont comme les catholiques lorsque le scandale des abus sexuels des prêtres à éclaté», explique-t-elle. «Ces affaires remontent tellement haut que les croire équivaut à remettre en question les institutions elles-mêmes. Alors certains préfèrent pour l’instant ne pas croire les accusations.»

La professeure souligne aussi la différence entre les entreprises et le pouvoir public. «On a vu beaucoup de renvois pour des cas de harcèlement dans le secteur privé ces derniers mois, car les entreprises ont des mécanismes pour traiter de ce genre d’affaire. La seule manière qu’ont les citoyens d’exprimer leur désapprobation des hommes politiques est de voter contre eux lors du prochain scrutin.»

[English translation via Google]
Tricia Bruce, a professor of sociology at Maryville College, believes that the danger for Donald Trump may not be immediate, but that men in power, suspected of inappropriate behavior, will be concerned sooner or later. “In some cases like Donald Trump’s, Republican voters are like Catholics when the scandal of sexual abuse of priests broke out,” she says. “These cases go back so high that to believe them is to call into question the institutions themselves. So some people prefer for the moment not to believe the accusations. ”

The professor also emphasizes the difference between business and public power. “We’ve seen a lot of referrals for harassment in the private sector in the last few months, because companies have mechanisms to deal with this type of thing. The only way for citizens to express their disapproval of politicians is to vote against them in the next election. ”


The Silence Breakers as Time’s “Person of the Year”

The #MeToo movement continues to grow, gaining momentum in its recognition as Time Magazine’s 2017 “Person of the Year.”


View my commentary on WBIR regarding these latest developments. This visit was unique in that my spouse Brandon Bruce accompanied me to offer his own perspective as a business owner.

I was also invited by WATE to comment on the Time announcement – view that recording here.

“Maryville College sociology professor sees impact of culture in recent sexual harassment revelations”


That was the headline for a front page article capturing my recent conversation with local reporter Amy Beth Miller of the Daily Times. Though my first book (Faithful Revolution) came out six years ago, its lessons reverberate anew in the wake of abuse revelations in other spaces. Movements to expose secrecy and demand accountability persist. Read the article in full here.


“Catholicism and the Common Good”

I am grateful for the invitation to participate in a three-year fellowship colloquium with an interdisciplinary group of scholars thinking about Catholicism and the Common Good. Participating fellows include:

Jennifer Beste Associate Professor of Theology
Koch Chair for Catholic Thought and Culture
College of St. Benedict + St. John’s
Tricia Bruce Associate Professor of Sociology Maryville College
Jeremy V. Cruz Assistant Professor of Theology and Religious Studies St John’s University
Teresa Delgado Chair, Department of Religious Studies
Associate Professor of Theology and Ethics
Program Director, Peace and Justice Studies
Iona College
Kristin E. Heyer Professor  of Theological Ethics Boston College
Linh N. Hoang, O.F.M. Associate Professor of Religious Studies Siena College
Andrew Kim Assistant Professor of Theology Marquette University
Bryan Massingale, S.T.D. Professor of Theology Fordham University
Michael P. Moreland Professor of Law and Religion
Director of the Eleanor H. McCullen Center for Law, Religion and Public Policy
Villanova University
Shannen Dee Williams Assistant Professor of History University of Tennessee, Knoxville

We gathered for an initial conversation in Boston coinciding with the meetings of the American Academy of Religion (AAR), and will next convene at Duquesne University this Spring.