The author of over 40 highly acclaimed and very practical pastoral works with some twenty million
copies in print, Msgr. Joseph M. Champlin has been a parish priest
in the Diocese of Syracuse for over 40 years and presently serves as rector of its Immaculate
Conception Cathedral. Over the past 30 years he has traveled more than two million miles here and
abroad lecturing on pastoral subjects and, in addition, he has jointly produced a video entitled
The Heart of Stewardship: Sacrificial Giving which has won high accolades. His current books
include: What It Means to Be Catholic, Why Go to Confession, and Meeting the
Merciful Christ (St. Anthony Messenger Press); The Stations of the Cross with Pope John
Paul II and Father Champlin on Contemporary Issues (Liguori); Together for Life,
From the Heart, and Through Death to Life (Ave Maria Press) and his most recent
work, The Mystery and the Meaning of the Mass (Crossroads).
"There is no surer hand in crafting a sound approach to parish life than Monsignor Champlin.
Once again, his pastoral wisdom is a reliable and respectful guide for enabling people to
experience the grace of sacrament." --Msgr. Philip Murnion, National
Pastoral Life Center
"I have found this book extremely helpful, especially in understanding my own reactions to
'Marginal Catholics' and being able to critique those reactions. I have insisted that all members
of our pastoral staff read it. It has also been a great help to tuning in to the 'teachable'
moments of our evangelization." --Fr. Dan Danielson, Pastor, St.
Augustine Parish, Pleasanton, California
"The Marginal Catholic is an excellent book because it deals with what's happening
today in the lives of our people. It deals with reality... since there are an estimated 15 million
alienated, unchurched, marginal Catholics, it is a blessing to have this book to help handle the
situations that will surely arise in pastoral ministry today." --The Cord
"Any minister remotely connected to sacramental preparation should in conscience make time to
read this landmark book. The Marginal Catholic is characterized by sensitivity and realness
and is based on the fruit of a lifetime of pastoral work and research."
--National Catholic Reporter
"The Marginal Catholic: Challenge Don't Crush by Msgr. Joseph M. Champin is a revised
and updated version of the initial edition published a decade ago with inclusion of references to
the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Its consistent focus: To show effective ways to welcome
and guide Catholics who practice their faith in a limited way, especially when they present
themselves or children for the sacraments. It has ten chapters, beginning with 'Once a Catholic'
and concluding with 'Marriage: Pastoral Suggestions.' It also inculdes a summary and helpful notes."
--Crux of the News, April 2, 2001
"A Catholic schoolteacher stopped at her parish office recently to pick up a letter of
recommendation for her son, who had been asked to be a godparent for a family baptism. She was
stunned when the parochial vicar refused her request. 'Father,' she pleaded. 'You know me. You
know my son. You know we're a good Catholic family.' 'I don't see him at Mass every Sunday,' the
priest replied coldly. When she reminded him that her son was away at college, the priest shook
his head. 'Tell him to get a letter from the Newman Center,' he snapped as he walked out of the
room. The pastor later apologized and gave the letter of recommendation. But it took a while for
the hurt to subside. 'I would never leave the Church over something like this,' the woman admitted,
'but I can understand why some people might be so hurt that they would feel as if they were no
longer welcome.' Msgr. Joseph Champlin, author of the newly revised edition of The Marginal
Catholic: Challenge, Don't Crush admits that these kinds of encounters are more common than
one might expect. Priests and other Church workers sometimes say or do hurtful things 'because
they have such a strong respect for the sacraments, faith and reverence for God that they sometimes
fail to balance this high ideal with the compassion of the Church,' Msgr. Champlin told Our
Sunday Visitor. 'For example, they might refuse to baptize a child because the parents are
not married. The ideal in the Church is for people to be married, but that requirement is not
actually in the Church documents or in Canon Law. The only requirement is the assurance that the
child will be raised Catholic.' In the revised edition of his book, Msgr. Champlin explores ways
to challenge people who are seeking sacraments or services from the Church to be better Catholics
without crushing them. 'We need to adapt to the pastoral concerns of the people,' he pointed out.
'There's a difference between saying: "I will uphold the sacrament at all costs" and "I will
uphold the sacrament with sensitivity to the human condition."'" --Lorene
Hanley Duquin in Our Sunday Visitor, June 10, 2001
"Champlin has revised a book that he authored a decade ago. In the
new version he includes pertinent paragraphs from the Catechism of the
Catholic Church and reflections from some fifty conferences he held
with priests to discuss pastoral issues involving Catholics who while
still maintaining membership in their Church have become lax in practicing their faith.
--Clare Boehmer, ASC in Review for
Religious, September-October 2001