Can anything be done about a clannish church?


#1

Besides praying, is there anything that one can do about a rural church that is more like a club with restricted membership than a church? The families are all related and they are not interested in the least in opening up to those from the outside. Do these situations eventually work themselves out? Is it best to just leave them to themselves, even though they have been told by the bishop and others that they have to open up? The priest has become one of them, probably due to his great desire to be accepted and find favor with them.


#2

[quote=wacky&wonderful]Besides praying, is there anything that one can do about a rural church that is more like a club with restricted membership than a church? The families are all related and they are not interested in the least in opening up to those from the outside. Do these situations eventually work themselves out? Is it best to just leave them to themselves, even though they have been told by the bishop and others that they have to open up? The priest has become one of them, probably due to his great desire to be accepted and find favor with them.
[/quote]

I’m not sure that I really understand the issue. Parochial Xenophobia is not acceptable and should be reported to the Bishop and if he does nothing to the Papal Nuncio but I would need more information to answer your particular question.


#3

What kind of information would be helpful? The folks are friendly at first and appear to be welcoming, but it’s like a kiss with a kick attached. The unspoken rule is that you need to be seen and not heard, and don’t speak unless spoken to. If I wanted to bring someone to church and hoped for them to stick around, this place would not be the place where I could do that. It seems like the most honest thing for them to do is own up to the fact that they are a closed community. Put a sign on the door that says: “Not open to the general public, this is a closed community. You are welcome to visit, but please be quiet. Membership is restricted to those who can prove a direct lineage to those who now RIP in the church graveyard. To apply for membership, call the number listed, leave you name and address and a form will be mailed to you. Have a nice day…” I’m only half joking on that suggestion…


#4

[quote=wacky&wonderful]Besides praying, is there anything that one can do about a rural church that is more like a club with restricted membership than a church? The families are all related and they are not interested in the least in opening up to those from the outside. Do these situations eventually work themselves out? Is it best to just leave them to themselves, even though they have been told by the bishop and others that they have to open up? The priest has become one of them, probably due to his great desire to be accepted and find favor with them.
[/quote]

In the past, attitudes which have no place among Christians - such as deferring to the powerful and wealthy, while snubbing the poor (see James 2) find their way from the wider society into the life and practice of Christians. This sounds like one of them. There are many ways of being clannish.

I’m not sure there is much you can do - apart from refusing to get caught up in these attitudes. The root of these things is in the heart - if people are not prepared to open up to others (and there may be all kinds of reasons for their not doing so), a mere command from outside the group is not going to change anything but outward behaviour; and only up to a point.

IMHO anyway ##


#5

[quote=wacky&wonderful]What kind of information would be helpful? The folks are friendly at first and appear to be welcoming, but it’s like a kiss with a kick attached. The unspoken rule is that you need to be seen and not heard, and don’t speak unless spoken to. If I wanted to bring someone to church and hoped for them to stick around, this place would not be the place where I could do that. It seems like the most honest thing for them to do is own up to the fact that they are a closed community. Put a sign on the door that says: “Not open to the general public, this is a closed community. You are welcome to visit, but please be quiet. Membership is restricted to those who can prove a direct lineage to those who now RIP in the church graveyard. To apply for membership, call the number listed, leave you name and address and a form will be mailed to you. Have a nice day…” I’m only half joking on that suggestion…
[/quote]

Are you able to get involved in any of the parish ministries?


#6

[quote=mosher]Are you able to get involved in any of the parish ministries?
[/quote]

I did try, and here’s an example: I called someone who I knew would have a list of the newcomer’s names and phone numbers. After chatting for a bit I asked her for a copy of the short list so that I could contact the people and welcome them. Maybe arrange to meet out by the big tree, go for a soda…get to know them and give them someone to connect to. I was told “No, they don’t want to talk to you.” How does this person know that? I was told to go to a St. Anne’s meeting, sit quietly and see if I could learn anything. I am a relative newcomer myself and I am an outgoing person. I can talk to anyone about almost anything, but this group is not user-friendly and with the harvest so great and so few laborers, it seems like they/we could be doing more. I gave my name and all contact info to the head of the evangelazation team. I sent the info as an email and specifically said that the info could be given out to anyone and that they could call me at any time. ANY TIME. Response: nothing. I even sent another email, this time a joke, in an attempt to connect. Response: a terse “Thanks for sharing…”

Also, the new church website listed a request that all ministries submit a short blurb on what they do and contact info. Guess what, no response. :frowning:


#7

Most Christians who are having problems welcoming the outsiders are Sugar Addicts. They did a study on a camp of angry youth and a reservation with a high murder rate. Both were healed by a no sugar diet. Babies in the mother learn to be sugar addicts from the mother’s diet.

The only thing the protestant leadership is ahead us on is getting their parishes off sugar.

Self Control and Will Power over sweet cravings (Sugar Addiction)will set the church on fire with evangalizing zeal.

Brother John


#8

Self Control and Will Power over sweet cravings (Sugar Addiction)will set the church on fire with evangalizing zeal.

Brother John

Ok. I think…


#9

[quote=wacky&wonderful]I did try, and here’s an example: I called someone who I knew would have a list of the newcomer’s names and phone numbers. After chatting for a bit I asked her for a copy of the short list so that I could contact the people and welcome them. Maybe arrange to meet out by the big tree, go for a soda…get to know them and give them someone to connect to. I was told “No, they don’t want to talk to you.” How does this person know that? I was told to go to a St. Anne’s meeting, sit quietly and see if I could learn anything. I am a relative newcomer myself and I am an outgoing person. I can talk to anyone about almost anything, but this group is not user-friendly and with the harvest so great and so few laborers, it seems like they/we could be doing more. I gave my name and all contact info to the head of the evangelazation team. I sent the info as an email and specifically said that the info could be given out to anyone and that they could call me at any time. ANY TIME. Response: nothing. I even sent another email, this time a joke, in an attempt to connect. Response: a terse “Thanks for sharing…”

Also, the new church website listed a request that all ministries submit a short blurb on what they do and contact info. Guess what, no response. :frowning:
[/quote]

Do you know others in the community that have this same problem?


#10

[quote=wacky&wonderful]Besides praying, is there anything that one can do about a rural church that is more like a club with restricted membership than a church? The families are all related and they are not interested in the least in opening up to those from the outside. Do these situations eventually work themselves out? Is it best to just leave them to themselves, even though they have been told by the bishop and others that they have to open up? The priest has become one of them, probably due to his great desire to be accepted and find favor with them.
[/quote]

If you are trying to socialize with them, you are wasting your time. You will work very hard to be friends with them with little or no payoff. They don’t need you. They have plenty of friends.

Go somewhere else where it is easier to make friends.


#11

[quote=jbuttrey]Most Christians who are having problems welcoming the outsiders are Sugar Addicts. They did a study on a camp of angry youth and a reservation with a high murder rate. Both were healed by a no sugar diet. Babies in the mother learn to be sugar addicts from the mother’s diet.

The only thing the protestant leadership is ahead us on is getting their parishes off sugar.

Self Control and Will Power over sweet cravings (Sugar Addiction)will set the church on fire with evangalizing zeal.

Brother John
[/quote]

What on earth are you talking about? Is this supposed to be a joke?


#12

[quote=wacky&wonderful]Besides praying, is there anything that one can do about a rural church that is more like a club with restricted membership than a church? The families are all related and they are not interested in the least in opening up to those from the outside. Do these situations eventually work themselves out? Is it best to just leave them to themselves, even though they have been told by the bishop and others that they have to open up? The priest has become one of them, probably due to his great desire to be accepted and find favor with them.
[/quote]

Actually, without the priest really pushing for the parish to begin being Christian and welcoming the stranger, no, not much can be done. I was lucky coming here because I arrived the same day our priest did. We were both held at arm’s length. He did not try to find favor with them. He insisted they find favor with him. He did have to involve the Bishop as well. It can be tough. As long as you do not develop huge feelings of resentment, you can continue to attend there. But if it really wells up into anger, go to a parish that appreciates growth.


#13

[quote=mosher]Do you know others in the community that have this same problem?
[/quote]

There are 3 women who have inferred that they too are outsiders, but I really question if that is true. By saying that, and “warning” me, they are successful at keeping things closed down. It’s a strange little place, and if the priest were not so good, it wouldn’t hurt so much to leave. But leave I did. For many people, what goes on there may be a problem, but it’s not a PROBLEM like it is for me. I am divorced and alone here. Initially, it was a good place to be because I just wanted to crawl into a corner and it was a safe place to be. Now I want to get back into life a bit and I am finding that there’s no place for me there. Stability has been long in coming, so having to make a change again, and start over is not what I wanted to do.


#14

[quote=katewithak]Actually, without the priest really pushing for the parish to begin being Christian and welcoming the stranger, no, not much can be done. I was lucky coming here because I arrived the same day our priest did. We were both held at arm’s length. He did not try to find favor with them. He insisted they find favor with him. He did have to involve the Bishop as well. It can be tough. As long as you do not develop huge feelings of resentment, you can continue to attend there. But if it really wells up into anger, go to a parish that appreciates growth.
[/quote]

So, did your priest get lots of really cool gifts that there’s no way he could afford on his own? Satellite TV? Maybe a hot tub? I’m not resentful, just hurt. But I have left and on Sunday I drove nearly 50 miles to another church, where I cried my way through the Mass. I have to get over this and soon. Although I have been told that most small rural churches are this way, I don’t believe it. Maybe small rural Catholic churches, but I have gone to small non-catholic churches and they were very welcoming. Even got invited to one pastor’s home for lunch! I doubt that I will be missed. As another poster has said, they don’t need me. I needed them, but that’s my problem, not theirs. So I will “ride the circuit” and eventually find another church to attend regularly. Lessons learned!


#15

This is very sad to hear. It might be a lesson all of us can keep in mind–how welcoming are we when someone new enters our “group” be it Church, or a civic club or a volunteer organization. How often do we say “that won’t work” or “we have always done it this way”? I guess sometimes we all tend to be clannish, and are glad to see our friends in the group and don’t stop to realize the message we are sending to others.

This happens–but IMHO, it should never happen in a church, Catholic or otherwise.


#16

[quote=wacky&wonderful]So, did your priest get lots of really cool gifts that there’s no way he could afford on his own? Satellite TV? Maybe a hot tub? I’m not resentful, just hurt. But I have left and on Sunday I drove nearly 50 miles to another church, where I cried my way through the Mass. I have to get over this and soon. Although I have been told that most small rural churches are this way, I don’t believe it. Maybe small rural Catholic churches, but I have gone to small non-catholic churches and they were very welcoming. Even got invited to one pastor’s home for lunch! I doubt that I will be missed. As another poster has said, they don’t need me. I needed them, but that’s my problem, not theirs. So I will “ride the circuit” and eventually find another church to attend regularly. Lessons learned!
[/quote]

It does tend to be a problem in parishes in rural areas. It also tends to be a problem in the so called “ethnic churches” that you mostly find back east. I know that you have mentioned that you are leaving and goin to a different parish but I was ask you for the sake of yourself and all to continue writting the Bishop with the problems including the apperance of scandel that is is being given by the priest. If the priest is not willing to fight this stuf then he is not a good priest no matter how well he preaches or celebrates the mass. His duty is to protect his flock not lead them to sin.


#17

Mosher, this church is not only rural, but the majority of the members are related to the original settlers of the area, who came here from Europe 200+ years ago. They have streets and other points of interest named after them. They are wealthy. Funny comment: I was introduced as, “This is Miss X, she’s not related to anybody!” I went to our diocese’s website to find a listing of other churches and mass times. I learned that this diocese is comprised of 125 parishes and 90,000 families = 450,000 people. There are 200 priests and 180 deacons. Talk about a shortage…so, in all honesty, I don’t think the bishop is going to care a whole lot about my concerns. There’s not a lot he can do about it.


#18

[quote=wacky&wonderful]Mosher, this church is not only rural, but the majority of the members are related to the original settlers of the area, who came here from Europe 200+ years ago. They have streets and other points of interest named after them. They are wealthy. Funny comment: I was introduced as, “This is Miss X, she’s not related to anybody!” I went to our diocese’s website to find a listing of other churches and mass times. I learned that this diocese is comprised of 125 parishes and 90,000 families = 450,000 people. There are 200 priests and 180 deacons. Talk about a shortage…so, in all honesty, I don’t think the bishop is going to care a whole lot about my concerns. There’s not a lot he can do about it.
[/quote]

Well I would submit a letter (very respectful letter) expressing your concern anyway. If you are not satisfied with the response then you can always take the complaint op the chain of command. But, a culture of corruption has to stop somewhere.


#19

[quote=mary bobo]This is very sad to hear. It might be a lesson all of us can keep in mind–how welcoming are we when someone new enters our “group” be it Church, or a civic club or a volunteer organization. How often do we say “that won’t work” or “we have always done it this way”? I guess sometimes we all tend to be clannish, and are glad to see our friends in the group and don’t stop to realize the message we are sending to others.

This happens–but IMHO, it should never happen in a church, Catholic or otherwise.
[/quote]

Church is supposed to be a literal and figurative shelter in a storm. It should be the one place you can go to and be accepted unconditionally. I know of a church out west that is a community unto itself. School, counseling center, 4 services every Sunday, and something going on for every age group almost every night of the week. It’s not Catholic.

The in-house gossip did reveal that the previous priest had gotten so upset with the congregation that he finally either asked to be removed or he was removed because he had lost all patience. The current priest mentioned that he was on his way to another assignment when he got the call to come to this church. It was sudden, so maybe the previous priest just got up and left. I can’t fault my priest. He’s in a very tough situation and I know he is trying his best. I sure don’t have any answers, except that I think they should consider closing the 2 parishes. You see, there is another church with more relatives, just down the road. They don’t mingle regularly because of some long standing feud that no one wants to talk about. So the priest has to hustle between the 2 places. If they closed them both, rented them out to film crews and then used them for special occasions only, they’d get $ and the relatives would have to go to the outside world for church. Sounds like a bad movie, doesn’t it?


#20

[quote=mosher]Well I would submit a letter (very respectful letter) expressing your concern anyway. If you are not satisfied with the response then you can always take the complaint op the chain of command. But, a culture of corruption has to stop somewhere.
[/quote]

Don’t you think that I’d come across sounding whiny and childish? You can’t force people to like you. So they don’t play well with others…I don’t think that finding out I had written a letter of complaint would endear me to them. God is going to have to handle this all on his own.


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