At first glance, you may be thinking, "The parish bulletin? Why?" Well, the parish bulletin holds some good memories for me. As I started to think about this humble little 11x17 piece of folded paper handed out to us every Sunday, I realized all the reasons why I like it.
My fondest memory comes from my mother. She always wanted to see the bulletin and would often pick it up before entering church if it was available. She'd scan the church happenings and announcements. "Ah, guess who's getting married?" She'd sometimes ask. Or, "Oh, Mr. X has passed away. I wonder if that's so-and-so's grandfather?" She'd always zero in on the people because that is how she was. Both of my parents were avid readers of the obituaries. It's one of those things that distinguishes them to me because it shows they care. When my mom passed away and our neighbors across the street didn't know, my father gruffly quipped, "What's the matter with them? Don't they read the obituaries?!"
The parish bulletin is more complete than the obituary page. It chronicles the life of a parish; noting the births, weddings, those who are ill, and those who have passed on. It announces special events and the occasional request for help. It is short and sweet. The editor, who most likely is the church secretary, has only so much room to fit everything in so brevity is best.
It is the Catholic church's way to keep up-to-date with our faith community. It is also a way to remind us to pray for one another, that real people with real challenges are sitting next to us in the pews and even though we may not be able to talk to them, we can keep them in prayer.
For those huge non-denominational churches, a weekly bulletin would be almost impossible to create. Most of them publish a very slick brochure, but it strikes me as impersonal. And I know that some denominations have a weekly bulletin, but to me, there will always be something special about a Catholic parish's bulletin, complete with the little ads on the back and exhortation, "Please Support Our Advertisers!" It is wonderfully "homey" and let's visitors know that we really are a family.