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A question on how your Parish handles newcomers...

Discussion in 'Coffee House' started by Don_D, Feb 5, 2017.

  1. Don_D

    Don_D Archangels

    Hi all, I don't know if this the right place for this or if I should even bring this up at all but I am new to the Church and I know nobody personally who I can speak with about this for advice.

    We recently began attending a local RCC in our town and have been attending for a few months now as a family. We were evangelical prior to this and were active in our congregation and community. I have met our Priest briefly but only in passing.

    I have filled out a small form on the back of our tithe envelope that identifies our family as being new to the Parish and also have filled out an online registration form for the church as well that went into more detail. The congregation of the church is large so I knew that it would not be a fast process but I figured at some point that someone would contact us. I also thought that maybe the online registration process may take longer because not everyone is tech savy. This week I received a letter containing donation envelopes for the church and nothing else inside. I was excited to receive a letter but quickly disappointed when I realized it contained donation envelopes. I was really hoping for some kind of communication so that we can start becoming members and not simply guests.

    I am looking for some advice here. Should I continue to wait or should I reach out to someone? I feel odd bringing this up but I figured that this was a good place to ask.
     
  2. Muzhik

    Muzhik Archangels

    Don't wait to reach out to the parish office. Part of me would be surprised that a large parish doesn't have some sort of welcome packet they send out to new parishioners. In my parish the welcome packet contains information on all the different activities and ministries offered at our parish such as prayer chain and prayer shawls, along with a form you can use to sign up for these ministries. It may be that they dropped the ball on sending you the welcome packet. My particular parish has a "newcomer's brunch", where every 3 or 4 months there is a brunch for new parishioners to get to know parish staff and to meet the other newcomers.

    You don't mention if you've converted or not, so I'll assume that you're "testing the waters", so to speak. One HUGE difference between Catholics and Protestants is the role "fellowshipping" plays in the Church life. Part of this is because the RCC service is focused on the Eucharist, worshipping Christ on the judgement seat (aka, the altar) and sharing His Body and Blood in Communion. While there may be some fellowshipping after the services, in most parishes that's not a key part of the church service. One reason is that there may be two or three services on Sunday morning, not counting any services on Saturday evening. People need to clear the parking lot and get things set up for the next service. My own parish has services at 4PM and 6PM Saturday night, and 7, 9, and 11AM Sunday morning. We have coffee and donuts after the 7 and 9 Masses, but not many people hang around for that -- they'd rather hit the brunches at the surrounding family restaurants if they're not going straight home to their own Sunday brunches.

    The largest part of Catholic fellowshipping happens with the ministries and activities I mentioned earlier, food banks, clothing drives, social justice things. (Those are just off the top of my pointy little head.) If there's a Catholic school associated with the parish, the parents will be interacting with each other at school events and the like. There are things like meetings to plan for the food bank which happen every 3 or 4 months, along with running the actual food bank.

    And, of course, if you decide to convert, there will be RCIA -- Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults. Again, I don't know if someone at the parish office dropped the ball or if they are really that disorganized and aren't aware of the impression they are leaving with new members.

    Please keep us apprised of what happens as you become integrated into parish life. And if it turns out they DON'T have a "newcomer's brunch", then hey! You've got a new ministry that you can work to begin at the parish!
     
  3. Mario

    Mario Powers

    Muzhik,

    You did a good job explaining options! Don happens to be a cradle Catholic. I'm unsure as to when he left the Church. Anyway, determining the Holy Mass which appeals to your life stage and preferences in worship is important, Don. Checking the bulletin for ministries that might appeal is a great idea from Muzhik. Hang in there, especially if you're disappointed with the lack of outreach to you. One week at a time. Also, if you haven't returned to the Sacrament of Reconciliation yet, please do so soon. One week at a time. Ask Our Lady to pave the way.

    Safe in the Refuge of the Immaculate Heart!
     
  4. Don_D

    Don_D Archangels

    Yes, thank you very much for the explanation and encouragement everyone. I regret that it has been a week since I have been back to this thread. It has been a busy week! I am going to get a little deep in the weeds here to try to explain in more detail our situation.

    We received another packet of envelopes today. I thought a bit about this and I will just have to find a way to get involved. This isn't easy unfortunately, I am disabled with a chronic disease and I will just have to leave that up to God and do my best.

    Just to be clear, I am really a newcomer to the Catholic church. I said my first Rosary in my life (I am 47) last month following an online resource. I have not been to confession, I don't have any clue even what I need to do to become ready for it and this is one of the reasons why all this has been confusing and is becoming frustrating. I would love to have some path to follow so that I am able to participate and partake in confession, and communion along with my family.

    I had a close relationship with my Pastor at my old church so we met together one on one weekly and studied as well as confessed to each other our sins. I no longer have this. It was not easy telling him that I was leaving the church and I don't feel that our relationship can continue as it was because I will become his prodigal son so to speak. I know this because we met last week and he put quite a bit of pressure on me to keep studying together. I just don't see that as an option any longer because I know well his views on the Catholic faith.

    I was baptized as an infant to the Catholic Church thanks to my Dad but my mother divorced when I was very young so we never attended mass, or any other church afterward. My mother was a new ager/psychic/eastern mystic- pretty much the flavor of the month when it came to anything spiritual. I grew up hearing all kinds of poison regarding the Catholic faith and any organized religious belief system. It was only after hitting a very low spiritual bottom that I reached out to God in a way that wasn't "get me out of this one!" then I made a decision to take part in an active spiritual life inside the church. I began to attend services at different churches, finding a small local church near our home that we have attended until our move to the Parish. It was about 2 years ago that I began to have some thoughts regarding Catholicism and that I started taking a closer look.

    My wife was baptized Catholic, attended Mass but was not confirmed and we began attending an evangelical church after several years married. It took quite a bit of talking to her regarding making the change to Catholicism and moving to the Parish we are now attending from our small evangelical church because we had many friends there but also because my wife had a parent who participated in very scandalous behavior with her Parish Priest when she was a child. This led to her parents divorce and subsequently not wanting anything to do with the Catholic faith afterward.

    I have been praying about it and will continue to along with trying to find something to become involved with when I am able. Again, thanks for the encouragement.
     
    Dolours likes this.
  5. Muzhik

    Muzhik Archangels

    Don_D, Given that history I would strongly recommend you and your wife sign up for RCIA -- Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults. You both may have been baptised Catholic and may even have communicated (recv'd Holy Communion), but you both have never been catechized in the more adult understanding of the Faith. (In some circles you would be known not as "converts" but "reverts".)

    Call the parish and see about getting enrolled with RCIA. This will help you both to prepare to rec'v the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) and the Sacrament of Holy Communion. It may be that the priest can give you some individual instruction so you can be readmitted to Communion sooner, but he may also insist that you both participate in RCIA so that you get the catechesis you both missed growing up.

    Our prayers are with you and yours.
     
    Don_D and Dolours like this.
  6. Florida Panther

    Florida Panther Jesus through Mary

    Hi Don, I went through the RCIA program at our parish last year and was confirmed into the Church at the Easter Vigil. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have that I could help with. If you'd like you can PM me as well.
    Praying for you.

    God Bless you and your family.
     
    Dolours likes this.
  7. Don_D

    Don_D Archangels

    We began attending Mass at a different Parish a bit further from home and after filling out a registration were called and spoke with a very helpful soul who said essentially the same thing you did. We made an appointment to speak with the Parish Priest and Father Lappe felt that since we have two daughters in their teens it would be good for all of us to attend RCIA together as a family and hopefully receive communion next Easter together. So this is our plan. We will also need to have our Marriage blessed by the Bishop before that time.

    Classes will not start until September so I will have to abide myself reading, praying, listening and attending mass until then. I am hopeful that my children will come to an understanding of the Faith that will stand the test.
     
    Dolours and HeavenlyHosts like this.
  8. Don_D

    Don_D Archangels

    And you too. Congratulations on your Confirmation!
     
    HeavenlyHosts likes this.

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