Connect Groups -- Do Catholic parishes do this?

Hi all,
In my AOG denomination we have something called “Connect Groups”. Some other local congregations may refer to them as ‘Home Fellowships’ or perhaps “Cell Groups”, or something similar.

They are small voluntary groups of usually around 25 or fewer people within a local congregation who either are of similar ages or have something else in common, like a particular interest or hobby. They meet once every couple of weeks for a meal, fellowship, prayer, and a brief Bible study led by an elder or lay leader within the church.

The purpose for the most part, especially within larger congregations, is to provide an opportunity for personal fellowship, an avenue to meet others, and strengthen the bonds of faith with their fellow parishoners under the guidance of a lay leader or some other church staff.

Question:
Do Catholic parishes do this sort of thing? Just curious.

In my parish we call them “Friends.” :slight_smile:

-Tim-

Good one, Tim. :slight_smile:

I assume your answer was either in jest or implies that you belong to a congregation that is either small or static enough so that there is no need for such groups, such as a parish in which everyone is Catholic from birth and most likely grew up together and know each other already.

What if someone is new to the congregation – let’s say they moved from somewhere else and don’t know anyone yet or are new to the Catholic faith entirely?

Is there any provision made for them to become integrated into the local body of believers?

Just curious how local Catholic parishes deal with this issue.

Blessings,
Tommy

I know what you are talking about regarding small groups. I remember them from the evangelical church I attended for a while. It a group you sign up for and perhaps do a Bible study or a book study. It is meant to be a way to grow your faith while meeting others. Where I went you were assigned the group and you were to stay with that group. I remember there weren’t a lot of other activities going on, so that was kind of the focus for meeting people.

In the Catholic parishes around me there are more activities going on such as, Bible studies, book clubs, men’s groups, women’s groups, altar and rosary societies, picnics, progressive dinner nights, respect life groups and more such as that. Some parishes have what is called a hospitality ministry that reaches out to new members. There are also many ministries to get involved in. Most activities are open for everyone to join.

I have not seen small groups as you are talking about in the Catholic parishes around me. They weren’t there in the Methodist church I used to attend either but it had a lot of the same kind of activities as the Catholic churches.

God bless.

It would be good for us to have more Bible studies and things like that, I think, though.

One could always try and start one. The laity needs to get involved more. The priest is often support of these groups, but he is just too busy to handle this stuff himself.

Thanks for the reply, Magdalena59. It is good to know that there are other helpful ways for new folks to become integrated into local parish life in your parish.

Some parishes will have coffee and donuts after mass. Others will even have some breakfast after mass.

Yes, many Catholic parishes have this sort of thing. There was a program called Renew that used small home groups as its center. It has fallen somewhat out of fashion but it was one of the most well-known. There are also local small group faith programs. Some are more Bible study and others are more faith sharing.

This is not a universal thing. I have belonged to several parishes and some have this and others do not.

Hey Tommy! :slight_smile:
My Pastor has been trying for eons to get some small faith groups going. Particularly for young adults. But the single people feel awkward, and the young marrieds get busy talking “young married stuff” and they eventually fall apart.
We have a group for the “Over 50” crowd, that do things together (like take in plays) and meet once a month fro potlucks and to celebrate birthdays. My pastor jokes that in order to be a member of the over 50 group you have to have a child over 50. LOL
(they’re pretty old).

We had JustFaith for a while and they met at church.

Our biggest problem is that our facility is really small, little meeting space, and people don’t really open up their homes that readily.

Wish we could. Would be oodles of fun and good times.
Father has 6 couples over for dinner once a month just to get to know his people though, and get feedback.

I belong to a small Christian community. It’s something like what you’re mentioning, but also a little different. We meet weekly and focus on the readings for the upcoming Sunday. We read them and discuss them not so much from a Bible study point of view but from a faith sharing point of view – What do these readings mean in today’s world, in our everyday lives? How are we being called to live out the message in the readings? We also pray together, encourage each other, sometimes challenge each other. This is a group that in some ways are complete strangers and in some ways are the best friends I have – I couldn’t tell you what their favorite music or TV shows are, but I can tell you about how they have faced various situations with faith and what their relationships with Jesus are like.

Thanks for the info, JamalChristophr and Corki. Sounds like there is a lot of variety from parish to parish, which makes sense that it would be like that.

Hi Clare, :slight_smile:
I like the idea of having dinner with the pastor/Father every now and then to meet folks and for feedback. That sounds like a real good thing to do and very practical.

Most of our Connect Groups are in a member’s home, usually the lay leader’s home or someone who likes to entertain others. There are some folks in our congregation who like to serve the congregation in this way, which is a blessing for the rest of us.

Please, no over 50+ jokes because I just turned 57. However, I still feel like a little boy in spirit, though. :slight_smile:

I really like the format of what you describe, SuscipeMeDomine. I think I would feel at home in such an environment. Thanks for sharing that.

Also, in areas with several Catholic Churches there are sometimes small groups like this that are cross parish. It’s not uncommon for Catholic groups to consist of members of several different parishes.

For example, there are currently 3 Catholic Churches in my zip code, some people from one parish always come to my parish for Bible Study because they like the format the Pastor provides.

The cost is free and open to anyone.

In my archdiocese, thee is a monthly Evangelization newsletter which describes all of the reported programs in the parishes open to all Catholics. So those programs also get a nice cross section of people.

God bless

I don’t think anyone mentioned ‘that Man is You’ yet. Something to google.

Edit: looks like this is the source site for TMIY - paradisusdei.org/index.php/programs/tmiy/

It is a fairly new movement of organized small grouping in parishes. Maybe started late 90’s.

The ‘crossing the goal’ team from ewtn promote small groups.

My ‘small group’ which isn’t so small anymore is the annual Catholic Men’s Conference ( you don’t have to be Catholic to go) they have them throughout the country. One of my favorite days of the year.

When we lived in a different city my wife went to a women’s bible study and fellowship at a friends house (Catholic).

So absolutely it happens, but where it happens is due to laity stepping up. Many times the meetings are at the Church or Church hall.

My older kids babysit for a Protestant family down the block who hosts one almost every Sunday.

Take care,

Mike

It’s nice to know that parishes cooperate with one another and coordinate small groups across parishes like that. That’s very impressive.

Thanks for your insights, Mike. I viewed the link you gave about ‘That Man is You’. That sounds like a great program for Catholic men who desire to be authentic Christians and leaders in their home and achieve their full potential in Christ. I was impressed by it and think it sounds like a great program.

That reminds me of a series that my local congregation is doing called “Five star man”.

fivestarman.com/

Historically parishes had societies such as Altar and Rosary, Holy Name, Legion of Mary, and many others, often ethnic related that provided a small group experience. That has faded in many places, but they still exist. Some still flourish, but most serve only the elderly now. There is also the Knights of Columbus and Cursillo, sometimes in, and sometimes apart from the parish. Some parishes in my diocese have Mission, and Life in the Spirit seminars which have both lectures and (temporary) small group sessions.

If I were a pastor of a large Catholic parish, I would try to identify 12 or so “apostle” types, eat with them often and offer guidance, some spiritual teaching, and get them to build a mutual support group, for a year. Then after a year those of them who were ready would be encouraged to start a cell group in their home, invite Catholic neighbors or relatives to meet maybe monthly, the “apostle” would offer a brief teaching at some of these meetings. The pastor would still meet with the leaders occasionally, and on occasion all the groups would have a social at the church, with prayer and sometimes a short teaching. As time goes on there might be more cell groups, the families would get to know at least a few other families very well.

In my diocese where some suburban parishes have grown to 3000 or more families, people get lost. The kind of social and spiritual support the various parish societies used to do, almost unconsciously, needs to be replicated now.

Hi Tommy,

The do look similar. I must admit, my wife keeps reminding me of the TMIY meeting at the local Church each Saturday, I haven’t gone yet.

They did promote it heavily at the last men’s conference.

There is also a program called Alpha that is just getting to this area, which I believe is intended to help a parish grow closer as a family, and in doing so, people feel more comfortable stepping up to serve.

Take care,

Mike

Hi Tommy :slight_smile:

I know about the cell group you’ve mentioned. My mom is in the cell group (she’s Pentecostal) and she’s a lay member.

I know a Catholic Church near by my place that has a lot of activities such as the alpha course, rosary group, general meeting for Q&A, picnick, Bible study, they even provided rooms to rent for Catholic students who want to study in that city.

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