LET IT aLL sTART hERE
For Catholics who care...
I often think about what brings people to Church.
I do so in response to Pope Francis' invitation to participate in The Call To A New Evangelization. Of course, there are as many ways to bring people to Church as there are people. My personal role as a member of the Pastoral Council at our parish is to figure out what some of these ways are. How do we invite people who are searching for a place to worship to join our community of Faith; moreover, how do we inspire the absentee Faithful back into the parish? My goal is to encourage people to discover what I myself have discovered: That all we need can be found inside the doors of The Church. My Catholic Church is very much my home.
To begin to fill our Churches with people, parishes must become a "home away from home" for it's parishioners and members of the community. In this day and age, sadly, home does not define itself as it once did. For many, it is no longer where the heart is. Home, for some, is not comforting word, it does not describe a place where one feels safe, validated, cared for, appreciated, or the least bit loved. Nor is it a place where one can find help if needed. Many people-- and they may not even be conscious of it-- regard home as something like a motel, that is, a place where they only sleep and shower.
In some homes healthy relationships have not been established, there is no nurturing going on in the home, no life instructions given, and even less guidance provided. In fact, in some cases, family members are left more wounded then empowered by their experience of family life. We are finding that there are a great many "home-less" people who live in well constructed, warm houses.
Happily, I believe I have a prescription for this malady; a solution to the ever-growing, serious situation of half-empty Churches. If we can encourage people to sample parish life, and to experience personal, as well as spiritual growth; if we can offer them a "home away from home" people can recover. Once people have experienced The Joy of the Gospel for themselves, the Church, will in turn, help resurrect that "dwelling place"... that home , which psychologically has come to mean everything.