Going local is the way to change society The culture is a an expression of the core priorities, beliefs and values of a society. This expression is not so much articulated by a governing body that dictates it (the European Union is attempting to be an exception); it is more the aggregated effect of all the personal relationships and networks of personal engagements that comprise it. This means, I believe, that locally based networks of people should be a significant part of our thinking when we consider how to transform the culture. Not long ago I highlighted the Institute of Catholic Culture, which operates within a cluster of about 10 parishes in Virginia, as one model for such an organisation. Here is another locally based organisation. This one operates throughout a diocese under the approval of its bishop – the Fra Angelico Institute for Sacred Arts.
In 2010 the institute received approval from the Bishop of the Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island. It operates through the parish of its founders, Deacon Paul and Jacqui Iacono. It offers lectures on all aspects of the culture and workshops in icon painting. It attracts from 40 – 100 people to its talks on a regular basis. It has a blog which is attracting interest. Although the organisational model is not identical (this has a much tighter focus on sacred art), it has certain things in common with the Institute in Virginia that seem to me to contribute to its success. At its core it has knowledgeable and energetic people (both coincidentally have deacons of the Church at the helm). There is a grassroots enthusiasm generated by the instigators who transmit their knowledge and engage people personally, and who in turn can contribute to it. Both place a strong emphasis on the connection between liturgy and culture and create a local learning community through this.