Catholic Church Discourse Community

Blog ยป Catholic Church Discourse Community

Posted on 08 Mar 2013 02:43

I analyzed the discourse community of my local Catholic Church St. Brigid, which is also the church I belong to.The word church is often used to mean a building in which mass is held. In the catholic religion the word Church (usually indicated by a capital letter), means a community of people who share the same beliefs and practices. I feel that this community fits the definition of a discourse community based on Swales' criteria that lists six characteristics that identify a community as a discourse community.

First, the community has a broadly agreed set of common goals which are based on the Bible. Goals such as to serve and worship God are achieved by attending mass, giving back to others, and spreading the word of God. The second characteristic is to have mechanisms of intercommunication. This characteristic is met by having officials of the church distribute the weekly bulletin and have other members free to communicate in the ways that they can. For example, after mass some people like to go out to eat and have a discussion about the mass. This document helps members achieve their goals by giving information about when masses are held and information about ways to give back to the community.

In this case, the "participatory mechanism" that Swales' speaks of in his third characteristic is the bulletin because it is the official communication used by the head of the church to its members. It provides information and members are able to give feedback by asking an official about something written in the bulletin that they would like to know more about. The fourth characteristic says that a discourse community discusses many genres. There are different genres discussed in mass such as bible stories, family, issues of today like domestic violence and abortion.

There is a lexis or technical terminology specific to this discourse community as stated in the fifth characteristic. The terminology that is used is are terms that members have usually learned at a young age. In the document, specific terms are found such as lent, parish, vocation and diocese. The final characteristic says that members have different levels based on expertise. In my church the expert is the head pastor because he has the most knowledge and experience, those who attend mass are ranked at a lower level.

After analyzing the weekly bulletin, I can identify that this document was created by someone who works in the church. This person is an insider because he knows what new activities are being held, the financial status at the church. He takes into account that knowledge and what members of the church are interested in reading about. In the bulletin I examined from March 3, 2013, information was given about the schedule of upcoming masses, how to donate money to the church, how to purchase memorial items to commemorate loved ones who have passed away. The readers of this document are also insiders because you have to be an insider to receive the document and to understand it.

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