The Conclusion summarizes how personal parishes—defined not by territory but by purpose—enable the Catholic Church to respond institutionally to grassroots change and diversity in American Catholicism. Having considered parishes, boundaries, decisions, difference, fragmentation, and community, the book concludes with a handful of lessons that personal parishes offer for understanding local religion and institutional responses to diversity. Namely, this chapter explores: (1) ascription and achievement in local religion; (2) generalism and specialism in organizing diversity; (3) the future of personal parishes; and (4) the place of purpose in a heterogeneous (Catholic) America. Viewing local religion from the top shows that multiple organizational forms can be deployed to meet divergent needs, to facilitate unity, and to maintain institutional control.
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