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6 Easy Ways to Build a Strong Traditional Catholic Community
We were on vacation in Las Vegas of all places and we did not anyone. Of course on Sunday we were going to Mass and we heard about a Traditional Latin Mass at a parish off the beaten path. We got there a little early so we could get our bearings and were immediately approached by someone. "Hi there! I haven't seen you all before. Where are you from?", he asked. Then he introduced us to his family. We chatted for about 15 minutes until Mass started and went into the church. It felt like we were old friends.
After Mass we chatted a little more, exchanged phone numbers, and then we said our goodbyes.
On our way out we were approached by 4 young men. "Hey there, we saw that you are a new face and wanted to see if you would like to join us for brunch?" We graciously declined but we were shocked at how friendly and welcoming this Catholic community was.
It made us feel like we were at home, even though we were thousands of miles away.
No one should ever feel like their parish community is indifferent to whether they are at Mass or not.
There are so many people who desire Catholic friendship, and want to know that their fellow Catholics are there for them. There are so many Catholic shut-in's and others who are on the fringes in our communities who we should be welcoming and inviting to Mass and other events. This is especially true when it comes to reverent Mass communities. We should be known for being the most welcoming and joyful communities, because our joy comes from the fact that our worship is reverent, reflecting the reality of what the Mass is, giving the utmost glory to God.
Unfortunately, for outsiders, there is a negative connotation associated with those who attend reverent Masses, especially the Traditional Latin Mass. They think it’s filled with obnoxious people who focus on rules and correcting everyone. All of the on fire Catholics who are Christ-focused know this caricature is completely untrue.
But we also know, that in general, it’s important to combat this falsity by doing what we should be doing anyway, joyfully welcoming others to Mass and building friendships.
There is more interest than ever in reverent Masses and the Traditional Latin Mass and those who have never been to a TLM will be coming with preconceived notions about the kinds of people who attend this Mass.
For those who regularly attend, we know that it is full of wonderful and caring people who are joyful about their faith, take it seriously, and want others to understand why this Mass means so much to them.
Here are a few tips to start welcoming new people to your Church/Mass.
1. Grab a few missals, stand by the main entrance, and welcome people to the Church.
You don’t need the pastor’s permission to say hi to people. Out of an abundance of courtesy, you could tell him you are going to take it upon yourself to welcome people and say hello to those who are coming to Mass.
2. Begin introducing yourself to at least 2 new people after Mass.
For many, this can be intimidating, but it’s a great way to meet new people who share your faith and to make them feel welcome.
Here’s a few things to say if you are a shy person.
Hi, my name is _______. How long have you been coming to this Mass?
What is your name? Where are you from? Have you been to this Mass before?
(If they haven’t, reassure them that it’s wonderful and ask if they have any questions)
Once you rattle off those questions, you should be good to run with it from there.
3. Grab a friend and go two-by-two, introducing yourselves as a team.
The more people who can do this the better and its less intimidating with a friend. Just ask your friends to introduce themselves to 2 new people before or after Mass also. The more people who feel welcomed at Mass, the better and faster the community will grow. After a few times, split up and cover different entrances.
4. Schedule an After Mass Brunch, once per month.
This is not a big time commitment.
If there are no restaurants nearby, ask Father if you can use a vacant room at the church. Keep it simple with bagels, cream cheese, ceral, milk, coffee, and water.
You can add it to the bulletin calendar also. Invite those you welcome and meet before and after Mass to the brunch. It’s really simple, a great to make new friends, and it makes others feel supported in their journey to live the faith. It's a natural way to build a community of Catholic friends. You can call yourselves the Brunch Bunch. :) Just kidding!
But inviting new people to eat is a sure way to build friendships, spread the faith, and support others. Plus, it is really easy! Additionally, everyone is already there on Sunday after Mass, so its easier to invite people down the hall or up the street while they are already out of the house, rather than on a different day.
5. After Mass, give a short tour of the church to newly registered parishioners, once per month.
It may take a little time to pull together the information from the parish secretary, but this is a great way to reach out to new comers and make them feel like they are part of the parish family. Then maybe ask everyone to go to brunch to get to know them more.
A few things to include on the tour.
- History of the parish
- Introduce them to the pastor
- Show and very briefly explain the statuary, and art.(stained glass windows, paintings, etc.)
- Explain something unique about the Church.
- Highlight some ministries (Legion of Mary, Respect Life, KOC, etc.)
- Show them the rest of the campus.
6. Start calling all newly registered parishioners.
You will definitely need the pastor's permission for this one because of privacy issues. But this is an incredible way to reach out to those who are new to the parish and tell them directly that your parish community is happy they are there. When you start a new job, they usually take you around and introduce you to everyone and many times you receive a welcome letter. This should be done when new families join your parish. It's easy but takes a few steps.
Step 1. - Ask the Pastor to allow you to form an official Welcoming Apostolate.
Step 2. - Include a line on the registration form/online form that states the parishioners phone number will be shared with the Welcoming Apostolate and no one else.
Step 3. - Have the parish secretary forward you all new registration phone numbers with the names of the heads of household.
Step 4. - Call the new parishioners and welcome them to the parish. (Example Below)
Hi my name is _______ and I am from Name of Church. I wanted to take a minute to tell you how excited we are to have you at the parish. Do you have a minute to tell me about your family? (Based on what they say, you can mention ministries that might apply to them like CCD, Respect-Life, etc.) How did you come to find us at Name of Church?
Continue asking them questions and get to know them. Maybe tell them the Mass time you usually attend and plan to meet them in person after Mass one day.
Many Catholics have been fighting for decades to bring reverence back to the Mass. Many places have it now in one form or another. The church’s that offer reverent Mass should be well known throughout the diocese for being the most welcoming and vibrant Catholic Communities. By working on this endeavor, it strengthens the community, it reaffirms that what we are doing is important, it reaches out to those who are looking for friends who share their values, and it builds of body of Christ by extending friendship to strangers.
We can’t strongly enough encourage you to start a small apostolate to begin building a strong traditional Catholic community. Just give it a try once after Mass on Sunday. Let’s see what happens and then let us know!
Tony and Kendra