Based upon substantial statistical data, the Gallup organization suggests that one of the primary factors for understanding “disengaged” or “fallen away” Catholics is their feeling of disconnect with the life of the Church; particularly the life of their own parish community.
Our parish has undertaken a study to determine how correct this assumption may be in our particular case, and if so, what measures can be taken to reverse this trend.
The idea of “belonging leads to believing” has been discussed, but I am not sure if this is the correct paradigm. Personally, I feel it should be inverted; the believer seeks, in order to “belong more deeply” (as our bishop says).
If one’s connection to their faith is based upon their external connection (i.e., parish social ministry, choir, catechist, etc) to the Church/parish, then is that connection strong enough to withstand the human conflicts which inevitably occur? How often have we heard someone say, “…after that… I stopped going to church”.
I believe we need to focus our efforts on helping the “disengaged” develop their interior life first. With that, the participation in sacraments, devotions, ministries, etc will all follow.
But how??? Certainly, we must pray. But what tangible applications can we apply? I am interested in anyone’s thoughts &/or experiences in this matter. Thank you.