VSB’s Charles Zech, PhD, Publishes Catholic Parishes of the 21st Century

Villanova, Pa., February 3, 2017 – The Center for Church Management and Business Ethics at Villanova School of Business (VSB), in partnership with The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University (CARA), has released Catholic Parishes of the 21st Century, published by Oxford University Press. Based on more than a decade of research, the book provides an in-depth portrait and critical examination of the current state of parish life and leadership in the United States.

Written by Charles E. Zech, PhD, Faculty Director, Center for Church Management and Business Ethics and Professor, Economics at VSB; Mary L. Gautier; Mark M. Gray; Jonathon L. Wiggins and Thomas P. Gaunt, S.J., Catholic Parishes of the 21st Century updates and expands the trends explored in the Notre Dame Study of Catholic Parish Life which was released in 1983.

“In many instances, our book offers support for what we know about the current situation in US Catholic parishes today,” said Dr. Zech. “On the other hand, it challenges the conventional wisdom by providing empirical facts, rather than anecdotes. For example, if we are to address the critical issues facing today’s parishes, such as the decline in ordained and non-ordained religious vocations, the closing or merging of parishes, serving parishioners from many cultural backgrounds, making the most of our lay staff and volunteers, and ensuring the financial stability of our parishes, we need resources like this to provide accurate information.”

The book also provides analyses of the Catholic population, pastoral leadership, and characteristics of parish life and a description of the challenges and opportunities Catholic parishes face with a growing and increasingly diverse population in a time with fewer priests and religious sisters and more permanent deacons and lay ministers.

Catholic Parishes of the 21st Century is an essential resource both for scholars of American Catholicism and for those involved in parishes and for those involved in parish and diocesan planning,” says Mary Ellen Konieczny, Associate Professor of Sociology and Henkels Family Collegiate Chair at the University of Notre Dame. “The authors have produced a timely and important study that reveals the close relationship between demographic shifts among American Catholics over the last three decades and the changes and challenges faced in their parishes.”

About the Center for Church Management and Business Ethics

In 2004, the Villanova School of Business established the Center for the Study of Church Management—the first of its kind in the nation. The center was created to serve the Catholic Church in the United States through education and research. It offers educational programs and conducts research in the areas of administration, professional financial management, and human resource management as they apply to the Catholic Church and its institutions. Its constituents include all individuals in church leadership and administrative roles who are seeking to become better stewards of church resources by improving their business and management skills.


The Villanova School of Business (VSB) undergraduate program is ranked #1 in the nation by Bloomberg Businessweek and has been at the forefront of business education since it was founded in 1922. Serving over 2,500 undergraduate and graduate students, VSB is home to six Centers or Institutes of Excellence (the Daniel M. DiLella Center for Real Estate, the Center for Business Analytics, the Center for Global Leadership, the Center for Marketing & Consumer Insights, the Center for Church Management & Business Ethics and the Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship (ICE) Institute) with each center and institute designed to foster innovative, cross-disciplinary research and teaching opportunities for business faculty. VSB is known for academic rigor; creativity and innovation; hands-on and service learning opportunities; a firm grounding in ethics; and an applied education that prepares students to become outstanding leaders and global citizens within the ever-changing, complex, and fast-paced world of business. For more, visit business.villanova.edu.

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