Catholic Fellowship


In the thread which asks Catholic and Protestants to say what they like about each other, I noticed that the Catholics seem to pine for Fellowship.

I notice the same thing and agree to a certain extent.

Here’s a little background on me to get the thread started. I was raised Catholic, then became nothing for awhile. Then I sort of searched in philosphical wisdom and religions in general (like they were clothes in a department store!), eventually ending up at a large Evangelical church. Before joining the church, I met my wife to be and we got married at that church.

We were very socially welcomed and quickly made a number of friends there. There were always formal and informal get togethers going on. We moved and eventually found another church where we also felt socially welcomed. Long story short, something wasn’t right theologically, and one year we went to Easter Mass. That sealed that, and we returned to the CC never to leave again.

We have since belonged to two parishes and never had much of a social life within the parish. To be fair, we have both been busy with school and our young kids and haven’t had a lot of time to try and get involved, but somehow at the Protestant churches, that didn’t matter.

I remember as a kid, the Catholic Church I belonged to had like 6 or 7 big get togethers every year. We’d just reserve the pavilion or something in the park next to the local lake and bunches of people would show up. We all knew eachother and there was a real interconnection.

Was my Church an anomaly or did others Churches do that also? Why isn’t it done anymore?

(I know that I could start it, so please don’t tell me that.)

I just want to hear from others about this. What are your thoughts?


Actually, my experience of fellowship in my church is opposite of your experience. In the Catholic church I was raised in (during the 70’s and 80’s), there were no activities, outside of the annual parish picnic that my family never attended. It was not until I was an adult in my current parish that I found any amount of fellowship. The parish I belong to now has volunteer opportunities at an ecumenical mission meal for the poor, an adult Sunday school (Bible study), a weekday morning Bible study, and we usually have coffee hour after Mass once a month. There also is a youth group, which is something they never had at my parish when I was a teenager. There is a group for senior citizens as well, which my childhood parish never had either.


I’ve heard this before but my experience of Catholic parish life is that most Catholics can’t wait to get out of church to be first out the parking lot, do not want fellowship thrust upon them, and simply will not meet and greet fellow parishioners after Mass unless you bribe them with coffee and donuts. 60 people out 1000 regular Sunday Mass attendees is a huge turnout for any adult ed event, and 100 is considered a success for any social event.

we have had one social event each month in the past year, expressly planned to help parishioners meet each other and socialize. The same 100 or so people have attended each event, and at least 1/3 of those who buy tickets for the meals only want to take carry-out, and will not sit down and eat with their fellow parishioners.

I think fellowship is a lot like bible study, Catholics feel it is something good that they should want and should ask for, but when opportunties are provided, they run as fast as they can in the opposite direction.


Give them time. It’s probably something new for them that they are not accustomed to. They will probably come around once they see their friends taking part in it. :slight_smile:


I’m one of those pining for fellowship at my parish. Here’s a difference I see between my current parish and my old Protestant church.

My PC was small, about 200 families, but had a big infrastructure composed of lay people. We had standing social committees, kitchen committees, outreach committees, Christian education committees, and so on. Each committee may have had a dozen members. While some individuals did double committee duty, most did not. People participated in the “ministry” they were drawn toward. It was these committees that kept the congregation “hopping” with scheduled opportunities for fellowship, learning, etc.

In my very large Catholic parish, we few such standing committees. Rather, I see individual people trying to start things like a mother’s prayer ministry. Often, these things fizzle out soon after they start due to lack of organization, communication and ultimately, participation. I wonder if we just lack the minimum planning infrastructure, or this non-participation is a basic cultural difference between Catholics and Protestants.

I still believe that, as a Catholic, I am a member of the great family of God. But there’s sure not a lot of visible evidence to support the belief in our family bond. :crying:




A few reasons they run to the parking lot. Most if not all the “runners” who leave the supper before the dessert is served, do so, because they are “putting in their time”. You are correct, most of the these folks have absolutely no intention of fellowship, and if asked point blank, they would tell you so. These are the same folks who “drop” their kids off at CCD, “because this is what you are “supposed” to do” without participating or helping in any way. It’s ok, because hey, they are going to mass, thereby avoiding mortal sin. I just as soon not go IMHO. I agree about 1000 listed parishoners, but you can’t find 20 people to help with the parish picnic. Go figure.

Actually, fellowship was/is not done in the Catholic Church. The solemnity, quietness of worship, etc…doesn’t lead to reaching out to your parishoners. Yet, most of these folks could name every person they work with, play golf with, bowl with, are Protestant, know their neighbors on both sides of the street. Here in the south, where Catholics are few and far between it is even more widespread.

At the protestant churches, there are commitees and get togethers for “everything”. There are Bible studies in the homes of SAHM and there are Bible studies for working outside the home moms. Time and talent are encouraged. A minimum of stewardship (money) in the amount of 10% of each families income goes to the church. I knew and LDS friend their minimum was 15%.

At the parish I attended in SC, CCD used to be held on Sundays after the last mass. It was decided to change it to Wednesdays, as it was discovered, that the Catholic kids were attending Protestant bible studies, services on Wednesday nights. Look outside any Baptist, Evang church with 1,000 or more members, and you will see buses, mini buses, a church that grows huge in a matter of 5-7 yrs. I have never seen so many “trips” of fellowship. The seniors at my grandmothers church, went everywhere. On Sunday either after or before services, there would be a pethora of Sunday schools. It didn’t stop at the teens. There was a 20 somethings Sunday school. Young married couples. And the seniors Sunday school. The teens had theirs on Sunday nights, called Sunday Nite Live…and it was jam packed with with many activities, attendance was just about through the roof. I did try to organize such a thing with my DRE at our parish, but for some reason, the kids didn’t want to come. One did tell me that they enjoy the Sunday Nite Live over at the Baptist church. And with the “same” amount of parishoners as the Baptist Church around the corner. Also, noted, more “men” are actively involved in all areas of fellowship in their church. I didn’t see that in the church I attended. All the catechists were female. I was there 10 yrs. Most of the confirmation sponsors that I participated in were female. I was a sponsor for 5 young men myself and two young women. I kept wondering about older brothers, uncles, male cousins. They all had them. They were their during the ceremony. Yet, I, their CCD teacher, they chose as their sponsor. Hmmmm…

Yeah, I would like to know why. I just came to the conclusion, is that it is just not done.


I’m one of those who appreciate the fellowship I’ve observed and experienced at evangelical churches.

I wonder if the fellowship is one the the strongest draws for them. And it feels good to be with people who are like you and agree with you.

I’m not explaining this well…let me try again.

Several years ago I went to a Single’s conference type thingy at a Baptist church (advertised on the area Christian station). And since the Catholic Diocese wasn’t offering anything at the time I thought I would check it out. I loved Jesus, they loved Jesus; it would be okay. The day was finished off with a concert by a well known CCM artist. It was basically a lot of praise and worship (worship Protesant style ;)) and by the end I was soooo hungry for the Eucharist I zipped to an area church with Perpetual Adoration. Someone invited me out for coffee but I blew them off (and I do wish I had met them later or something).

The Eucharist is our high point and it doesn’t get bigger or better than that. Since evangelicals and the rest don’t have Jesus, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, they need to have awesome fellowship, sermons, etc.

When all is said and done, fellowship at a Catholic church would be great but Jesus trumps it all.


When all is said and done, fellowship at a Catholic church would be great but Jesus trumps it all.

AMEN!!! I too was one who thought that I was missing out on fellowship… Our Diocese of St. Paul and Mpls started an “Evangelization Initiative” a couple of years ago during Lent. Those people that meet once a week in my home have become to me, the most important part of my Catholic community.

I also have become involved with several choirs, the Liturgy Committee and Eucharistic Adoration. If one is willing to invest the time, you will find that in any parish you can have a core group of friends who are like the fellowship in any Protestant church. There are always those who leave church right after communion and there are those of us who stand around for a half an hour talking with one another. Just because we want to! If others feel the need to leave, let them. If those of us who wish to stay do so, maybe those of us who leave will see that we are a close knit community and wish to join us. I have felt no condemnation from either “side” of this church-going attitude.

We are one body, one body in Christ… and we do not stand alone!!

in Christ


I belong to a more liturgical/sacramental Protestant church. We have both awesome fellowship, sermons, etc., AND Jesus’ body, blood, soul, and divinity. And I agree… it doesn’t get bigger or better than that.



When I was growing up in the Catholic church, my family knew lots of people, had lots of friends there. All the children in my family attended the Catholic school associated with the church and our parents were involved in school activities and got to know each other. Also, there seemed to be lots of things that the church needed volunteers for, women took care of the vestments/linens, men gathered to paint and trim hedges, etc. I noticed, even then, that the families who were not involved in the school tended to not know as many people. They didn’t hang around after Mass chatting or making plans for the next event etc.

If there are less schools, and less families thus involved, and the cleaning of statues, trimming of hedges, etc are hired out…there are less “natural” opportunities for people to get to know each other. The kids in a parish may go to so many different schools, and all have two working parents…so they may not be bringing the families together as they once used to.

I grew up in a huge church, 3000 members, but it really felt like family to me because we were so involved.



In the small parish where I grew up (outside of Pittsburgh), everybody knew everybody. We all lived in the same neighborhood and so social activity with your neighbors was a part of life. You belonged to the same parish as your friends and neighbors. The “fellowship” wasn’t really necessary. All the guys (including the priest) belonged to the fire company and everybody got together for activities and the women all cooked fantastic Polish and Slovak dishes. The kids all went to the local Catholic school and so we all knew each other and our parents did as well.

Now, I live 60 miles away in a bigger parish. Socially, it is a very active parish ( bible studies, RCIA, youth group, Catholic Daughters, Knights of Columbus, etc) and the coffee and donuts thing several times a month. However, since the parish is more spread out, the “neighborhood parish” no longer exists.

I guess the fellowship is there for anyone who wants it. I, personally, do not. My husband and I started to attend another Catholic Church (the one we were married in, in fact), in looking for a more traditional parish, and some guy at the door (a greeter?) is wanting to hug all the ladies on the way out. Excuse me? I don’t need to be “greeted” on the way in and hugged on the way out. I don’t like ‘socialization’ forced on me. I even got a “smile! It’s a beautiful day!” from the 'hugger". The reason I wasn’t smiling, was because I was seeing him hug every woman who passed him on the way out and I didn’t want to be so honored!

sorry for the rant! :slight_smile:


Except for the size of the parish, that was my experience too! (I should have read your post before I posted mine! lol!) Around here, where I live, the smaller churches have consolidated into bigger ones, and there is only one Catholic school in the entire region. Most of the people in my parish send their kids to the public school.


I understand the OP’s question to be one about why modern Catholic churches don’t have as much fellowship as old ones?

If that is the query, I must say I don’t know. But I do know in my old church we had donut Sunday every first Sunday of the month. My family scarcely went. We also had one or two potlucks a year. Never been there except maybe once. The campus ministry I attended a few years ago had snacks or lunch after every morning Mass. I never went. The church I attend now has coffee hour after every Mass. You guess it…I don’t go. The church is rather large in terms of parish membership. The most I attend is adult education classes on Wednesday, with nobody my age attending.


Fellowship, schmellowship.

Are you kidding? Have you ever heard of The Brady Bunch? It’s not real, people.

I was evangelical Protestant all my life until 2004, when I came into the Catholic Church. (I’m 49.)

I thought I had wonderful fellowship in the Protestant church. I thought I had lots of friends who really loved me. I thought I had a deep bond with fellow Christians.

Where are all those friendly Christian people now? Where were they when my husband and I were kicked out of our Evangelical Free church?

No one called, no one visited us, no one sent us a card asking if we were OK. We weren’t OK. We were suffering, and no one took the time to try to help us.

Some fellowship.

I have a very strong distrust of people, even Christian people, even Catholics, after what happened to us in that Protestant church. I am slowly but surely meeting people, one person at a time, and forming some cautious friendships with Catholic women. I hope to someday have a few friends that I trust and “do lunch” with.

If you’re looking for the kind of fellowship you find in a Protestant church, go to a bar where everybody knows your name and they’re always glad you came.

I personally think that “fellowship” develops naturally between people who share common interests outside of the church. E.g., Bears fans find each other and spend game days together in front of a big-screen TV. Gardeners get together to share cuttings and seeds. Musicians join choirs and go out for nachos after the Wednesday practices. Moms and dads with kids in the parochial school become pals and share the joys and trials of child-rearing. And people involved with the same ministry (e.g., soup kitchen) are comfortable doing things together.

I think events like “fellowship” socials are silly. Just let like-minded people find each other and develop true friendships, not “fellowship.”


If fellowship and community life is not a component of the church, then the Book of Acts needs to be decanonized.


I suspect you are right. Maybe it’s true that every baptised Christian is “programmed” to seek communion with Christ’s body. As Catholics, we experience that directly and intimately through the Eucharist. Protestants are seeking unity with Christ’s body too, but the closest they can get is connection with all the members.

I also came across this today which has given me more food for thought on the subject of fellowship:

“You complain that you are alone, and that your surroundings militate against you. Think of this, then: Jesus, the Good Sower, takes each of us, his children, and holds us tight in his wounded hand, like wheat. He soaks us in his Blood. He purifies and cleanses us. He fills us with his “wine”! And then he scatters us generously throughout the world, one by one, for wheat is not sown by the sackful, but grain by grain.” – St. Josemaria Escriva, The Forge, #894


Hi Cat,
You have actually written MY story as well! The same thing happened to me when the Pastor told us we were no longer welcome in his congregation. I had the same distrust that you have spoken of. For that reason, I had a hard time opening up to everyone in my Parish. When I spent a month at Mayo for depression, everyone in the Parish rallied around my family. They took care of my kids so my husband could work, they were THERE for us. Not so in the church I previously attended.

I have a friend in the Parish whose house burned completely down a couple of years ago. The Priest of our Parish invited them to stay with him in the Rectory and they did for a year. (huge Rectory, one Priest and an entire floor which wasn’t being used complete with a Kitchen!)

THAT is fellowship!

in Christ


I hope you share your story with as many as possible… people sometimes only need that kind of reminder to change a bad habit… and someone down the road might benefit from your sharing.


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