Inspiring a Parish Community to Reach Out – Terri Baldwin, Diocese of Cleveland

One challenge faced by many evangelization teams is how do they invite those who are away from the faith to a program or process designed to reunite them with their Catholic faith? How do we reach those who are not in the pews? How do we inspire the parish community to personally invite those we love who are away?

The following is a New Evangelization idea, a five week parish process designed to be done in the context of the weekend Mass, with the support of the Pastor, to hopefully move the hearts of the faithful in a parish community to reach out to those who are away from the church. 

Week 1: Advise the faith community that you are doing an informal survey on evangelization. Ask those present at Mass to raise their hands if they know of someone who is away from the Catholic Church. Thank them for their participation.

Week 2: Let the faith community gathered know, based on last week’s survey that this week we will be praying for those who are away from the church with an intercessory prayer today. Ask that during this week, we begin to pray at home also for those away from the church.

Week 3: Ask the parish community to write on an index card provided (in the pews) the first name of anyone they know who is away from the church. Collect the index cards at offertory and display them in a glass jar or basket.  Include an intercessory prayer and do a blessing over the jar or basket. 

Week 4: Share with the parish community, in addition to recognizing the need of prayers, we need a way to welcome and invite people back to the church through personal invitation. Let the parish community know of the upcoming program or process and request their help in extending the invitation to those who they know, those whose names were put on the index card, or who have been prayed for over the past two weeks. Have flyers for the program or process in the pew or gathering area to be used as an invitation. Ask all to continue praying for those away from the church.

Week 5: Thank the parishioners for their support and prayers for those we love and for their participation in this evangelization effort and do one last reminder of the program or process to begin this coming week. Ask all to continue to keep those who are away from the faith in their prayers.

This process could be done during a parish announcement time following the Prayer after Communion or as part of the homily, or wherever it would seem most appropriate for the parish.

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