I've signed up for the "Welcome Committee" at St. Bernard's this past month and our first to-do is in a couple of weeks.
The Welcome Committee is designed to help new parishioners feel more a part of the faith community at St. Bernard. We get new parishioners signing up all the time - mostly younger families wanting to have their kids baptized, receive First Holy Communion , or get confirmed - have to become a member of the parish as a first step. The majority of the time, these families have not been part of a faith community for years, if at all. It is important to minister in a special way to these newest members of our community.
We're doing follow-up calls with every person/family who signs up as a parishioner for whatever reason; see what they like to do, what ministries they might be interested in. This year we are having a special Mass said on the Solemnity of Christ the King (November 22)for these new parishioners who are interested in attending, followed by a dinner.
This ministry is planned to be extended in the future to reach out to disaffected, non-practicing Catholics, who may have one or more legitimate gripes against the Church. I find THIS particularly appealing, because I was one of the disaffected for a very long time. I am close to people who fit into this category as well. It will give me a chance to help someone the way I was helped - that old AA promise of passing on what was given to you, I guess.
I think this is an important initiative, especially with the Church's current PR problems; we need to demonstrate that we as Church are not primarily after the envelopes thrown in the basket every week. We as Church need to demonstrate that new members are needed, wanted, important voices in the flock; that they are Church, as much as the Bishops on up to the Pope. They by virtue of their baptism and the grace of the Holy Spirit are now the hands, feet, mind and heart of Christ on earth, as much as the rest of the hierarchy and the rest of the congregation they see at Mass every week, or however often they go.
Please say a prayer for our new parishioners as they begin to walk a new path in their faith life. Also, spare a prayer for those of us who will be accompanying them along the way.
Daily Mass Readings
1 Kings 17:10-16