It’s beginning to feel more like 2019 again. Schools are having after school activities, youth groups are having in person activities again, and families are making plans to gather for the holiday season. It really makes you feel good inside! The question some parishioners have is how are you welcoming us back who have been streaming Mass online? Here are some of the ideas we have heard from some parishes, and we think they are great!
“Nothing Compares to Being There”
This is the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s slogan right now, and it’s true! You can stream Mass online, but in order to fully submerge yourself in Mass, you need to be there. Keep in mind that there is a difference between hearing and listening – you hear the message at Mass, while at home you may only listen to the homily. Plus seeing all of the smiling faces that you have known for years makes you feel safe and comfortable.
One of our parishes (St. Francis of Assisi Church, West Nyack, NY) had a Homecoming Celebration mid-October. Their parishioners were given Welcome Packets that contained a tile that the family could decorate. Some put prayers, while others drew pictures – all came out beautiful. This is a fun activity that students in Religious Education could also take part in.
Be Safe Together
With all of the added activities, Mass times and increased attendance, our parishes are making sure we can be safe (and comfortable) together. This may include weekly offertory to be given online (Parish Giving), giving the peace sign rather than shaking hands, designated social distancing areas, and much more. It is all about keeping parishioners feel safe and comfortable to help encourage them coming back to Mass.
And keep in mind that your parish is not just about your Catholic religion, but also about your community. Parishes are often the backbone of your town and help it thrive. With fundraisers, hospitality breakfasts, and schools, the church is well-known and established with a positive reputation. They may not need to say that they are safe, when they can show that they are safe. Sometimes actions speak louder than words.
As you can see our parishes are ready for the Christmas season. They are looking forward to seeing returning parishioners and meeting new ones as well. Will you be joining your local parish again knowing how safe it is to be with your community? We certainly hope so! And what is your parish doing to help encourage parishioners to come back? We would love to hear from you!