Welcoming Visitors to Our Parish

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Last winter, my family attended the Houston Second Baptist annual Krazy Kids Christmas Show at their Pearland campus with friends.  The show is a mix of dancers, live actors, and singing puppets, celebrating the message of the true “Reason for the Season”.  The kids thought it was great, and I even caught my husband laughing pretty hard at the ZZ Top singing Wise Men. This fun, crazy, entertaining Christmas show featuring the Holy Family, shepherds, wise men, angels and some spitting camels, focused on the Birth of Christ was a perfect opportunity to share time with the family and a beautiful way to reach children with the Spirit of Christmas.

In addition to spreading the Christmas message, the church uses the event for outreach and recruitment by offering multiple invitations for us to speak with their members about attending their services. They also requested all of our contact information, including birthdates, simply for attending their free children’s performance.  While I found the continued pressure uncomfortable and distracting from the show, I have to give them accolades on really going out of their way to welcome visitors and making those who seek Him feel welcome to their church. I recognize that there is a big difference in how Baptists, most Protestants, and Catholics evangelize, even within their own worship space.

It makes me wonder how my own Catholic parish evangelizes and welcomes visitors, both Catholic and non-Catholic?  We have greeters to welcome each person through the door with a kind word and great smile, Father John and Deacon Kevin stand outside after Mass to speak with everyone as they leave and shake hands, and St. Angela Merici offers coffee and donuts in the gathering room after each Sunday Mass.  These are all things that I, as a member, appreciate and look forward to every week.

But what about Catholics visiting the parish?  Do they feel welcome and invited to join our growing community?  How about the non-Catholic who may have questions or are seeking answers about our faith?  Are they welcomed in a way that is comfortable and loving, encouraging them to discover the Fullness of Truth the Catholic Church has to offer?

St. Angela Merici has a friendly and vibrant parish family, but how often do we, as individual members, turn to those we don’t recognize and welcome them? I can’t remember the last time I personally spoke to someone before or after Mass that I didn’t already know or at least recognize from the pews.  Is it just me?   I intend to make an extra effort this weekend to smile and say hello to someone I haven’t met, introduce my family, and ask if they have any questions about our parish.

How does your parish welcome both Catholic and non-Catholic visitors?  Should we and can we do more both as a parish and as individuals?

Copyright 2011 Lisa Jones

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About Author

Lisa Henley Jones is a former stay-at-home mom who discovered a new career as an online marketer/social media manager. She blogs at Of Sound Mind and Spirit with her sister, Shelly Kelly, about faith and family life. During the hot summers in Houston, Lisa can be found by the pool eating popsicles with her husband and three school-aged children.

1 Comment

  1. Lisa, you’ve touched on such an important topic here. I hold myself responsible for not paying enough attention to this at my parish. I can remember being new and very lonely at my church fifteen years ago when we first joined and I was going alone with two little ones in tow. I remember how cold and impersonal it felt, and also how cliquey it felt. Now, when I stand around after mass talking with friends, I need to ask myself how many people are out there feeling the same way. I wonder if we held “welcome meetings” after mass or did something once a month who would come? I also wonder about using Facebook to welcome new families to our parish. Thanks for getting me thinking about this important topic! I would love to hear what works in other parishes.

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