How Do You Draw People Into Parish Life?
All of us – writers and editors, lay or ordained – are parishioners. We experience the universal Church in a comparatively small and intimate place – our own parishes. We attend Masses and baptisms there; we rejoice at weddings and we grieve at funerals. The parish is our family – our brothers and sisters in Christ.
As content evangelists, one of our primary purposes is to connect people with Jesus, and with his Church – in a parish. It can be tempting to fall back on simple reports of parish news – St. John’s hosted a bake sale, the kids at St. Mary’s did a carwash to raise tuition money, there is a summer festival at St. Joe’s. But would that make you want to head to that parish on Sunday morning?
What really draws us to join an organization – whether it’s a civic group, a bowling league or simply a circle of friends? It’s people – people who invite us, who share their stories of why they love Kiwanis, or bowling, or their parish family at St. Pat’s.
In our publications, we have the opportunity to share those stories and extend those invitations to readers who may not hear about them otherwise. Here are a few examples:
Parable Magazine, Diocese of Manchester
In this issue, three neophytes speak about their journey into the Catholic Church through the RCIA process. Jim, a 71-year-old former engineer who says he had always been too busy for God, describes his conversion as, “After all these years, I feel real.” Nathan describes what drew him from Judaism to Catholicism, and Laura explains how her conversion helped her through the trauma of a painful divorce. Each of these new Catholics has a story that makes the reader stop and think, “Maybe I could find what that person has found!”
Catholic St. Louis, Archdiocese of St. Louis
Carlotta Ingram’s huge personality shines out of her cover photo. As a reader, you want to open the magazine and find out what is making her smile. And it is her life at St. Theresa and Bridget Parish that brings that joy. Carlotta is a volunteer at the parish’s St. Vincent de Paul food pantry. She doesn’t have much herself, but says helping others, especially kids, “… makes me happy by making them happy.”
FAITH, the magazine of the Diocese of Lansing
Bill, the subject of this issue’s cover story, is living Cursillo’s “fourth day.” As a result of his Cursillo experience, he decided to become a welcoming presence in his parish, St. Andrew. He greets people was they enter the church and he connects strangers with others – he makes them feel like family. Bill talks about how his faith has changed him, and how being a member of a parish is central to his life.
FAITH Saginaw, the magazine of the Diocese of Saginaw
As part of their Planning Tomorrow’s Parishes process, the Diocese of Saginaw focused on various ministries in their parishes, and put a personal face on them. In this issue, readers met two sisters who “went the extra mile” to arrange public transportation for parishioners to participate in religious faith formation classes at a merged parish, newly named Ave Maria. The story of the families who participate illustrates a program that “has brought a little bit more unity to our parish.”
FAITH, the magazine of the Catholic Diocese of Erie
The Diocese of Erie used its magazine to help gather input for its pastoral planning process. The article, It’s time to let your voice be heard! asks readers to participate in the process by completing a detailed survey about parish life. The survey is printed in the magazine and can be removed and mailed in, or can be completed online.
Questions cover a wide scope of parish life, and focus on parish mission worship and sacraments, education and evangelization, stewardship, parish administration, and Catholic schools.