Can Francis Change the Church?

Can Francis Change the Church? How American Catholics Are Responding to His Leadership

by Thomas P. Sweetser, SJ
(New York, Crossroad Publishing Company, 2019)

Jesuit Thomas Sweetser has worked for more the 45 years with Catholic faith communities on evaluation and renewal. In 2011 he set out to interview a broad range of American Catholics, both practicing and non-practicing, about their relationship with the Church. A few years into the new papacy, Fr. Sweetser asked the same people again. Had anything changed with Pope Francis? The answers are enlightening for the church’s future. Based on before/after interviews, this helpful resource is for everyone concerned about the Church. The value of this book lies in the direct conversations with people from very different walks of life between 20 and 80 years old. They include faithful Catholics as well as people who have left the church. They touch on hot button questions such as hierarchy, women in the church, and sexual abuse, and offer insights into the nature of a deep desire for authentic spirituality. Together these conversations offer a picture of the current state of the Catholic Church as experienced by its members.


Keeping the Covenant: Taking Parish to the Next Level

by Thomas P. Sweetser, SJ
(New York, Crossroad Publishing Company, 2007)

Every aspect of parish life is included in this volume, from the articulation of a mission that moves people into action, to the formation of a structure that links all aspects of parish life together, along with a style of leadership that brings out the best in the pastor, staff, leaders and parishioners. The book is based on practical, common-sense experiences that can be repeated in a variety of settings. Each chapter is short and to the point, followed by questions so that it can be used for discussion and problem-solving. The book concludes with sample goals and actions steps in the five key areas of parish life: worship, community-building, formation, outreach and administration.


The Parish As Covenant: A Call To Pastoral Partnership

by Thomas P. Sweetser, SJ
(Franklin, WI: Sheed and Ward, 2001)

This book provides a new way to envision the parish based on a partnership model of shared ministry, beginning with the pastor sharing the leadership and running of the parish with at least one other person. The pastor provides direction for the spiritual, liturgical and sacramental aspects for the parish, a parish administrator or pastoral associate takes care of the temporal and managerial affairs. Other topics include a framework for pastoral planning, fostering aspects of good liturgy, learning how to limit one’s workload for effective ministry, taking the parish to the people and dealing with the practical side of covenant-building and parish management.


Transforming the Parish, Models for the Future

by Thomas P. Sweetser, SJ and Patricia M. Forster, OSF
(Franklin, WI: Sheed and Ward, 1993, Second Edition, 1999)

This book won the first place book award from the Catholic Press Association in 1994. It contains chapters related to parish leadership, spirituality, meaningful liturgies, the inner and outer mission of the parish, financial contributions, volunteers and the formation of small Christian communities. The book concludes with ten imperatives for parishes in the new Millennium.


Recreating the Parish, Reproducible Resources for Pastoral Ministers

by Carol M. Holden, D.Min, Thomas P. Sweetser, SJ and Mary Beth Vogel, MPS
(Franklin, WI: Sheed and Ward, 1996)

This book is a collection of hands-on materials that can be used in leading and facilitating parish groups and ministries, including staffs, pastoral councils, committees and organizations. The focus areas include resources for leadership and parish management, collaboration, decision-making, stress in ministry, conflict management, planning, goal-setting and evaluation. These are proven exercises, case studies, work sheets and role plays that have been developed by the Parish Evaluation Project over the last twenty-five years.


Changing Pastors, A Resource for Pastoral Transitions

by Thomas P. Sweetser, SJ and Mary Benet McKinney, OSB
(Franklin, WI: Sheed and Ward, 1998)

This book provides a new approach to the placement of pastors in Catholic parishes, as well as help for others undergoing transitions in a pastoral environment. Based on an eighteen month project involving three dioceses, this book offers alternatives for the change of pastors, staffs, principals, pastoral councils and religious superiors, one that includes the people in the process and provides for the needs of those undergoing the transition.


Leadership In A Successful Parish

by Thomas P. Sweetser, SJ and Carol M. Holden, D.Min
Franklin, WI: Sheed and Ward, 1987, Second Edition, 1992.


Successful Parishes: How They Meet the Challenges of Change

by Thomas P. Sweetser, SJ
San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1983.