I think alot of people are generalizing. At my home parish if we see someone new, we make a point to say hi before or after mass, but when I went to mass in a nearby city… not one person acknowledged my presence (which was fine with me… I didn’t expect anyone to approach me). If I were to venture a guess, I would have to say it depends more on where the church is located…rural town or city, and how close the next Catholic Church is to that location (in a city there are several Catholic Churches, out in the country they are spaced out more so everyone knows who the “new” folks are or the “visitors.”
When I was new, this woman said hi to me every week and I said hi back. I had no clue who she was until we ran into each other at a night club about a year later. She came over, extended her hand and said, “I see you every Sunday, What is your name?” When I told her my name she laughed and called her husband and several friends over. She then tells me her name, same as mine. It turns out she unwittingly was the one who almost made me run away from this parish when I moved here. You see I didn’t know there was anyone else with my same name (I got remarried so we don’t anymore). Anyway, when I called the parish office for the first time, they asked who was calling. When I said my name they acted like they knew me all my life…“oh hi Mary, how are you doing?” (they did know her all her life!) Way to friendly!!! I was actually scared of how chummy this church seemed to be…until I found out they thought they were talking to her!!! It was comical!
I used to go drop my kids off for PSR (ccd) and then go over to the church and pray for an hour before mass started. It was my one hour away from my kids when I was a single mom, and I treasured my time in God’s house by myself. One day I was praying as a few people arrived and a few moments later there was a hand on my shoulder. I turned around to the most pleasant woman apologizing for disturbing my prayer, but she sees me every week and she wanted to meet me. So, she introduces herself as Sister Anita. She has become my all time favorite nun.
One Sunday as I was going to mass I heard a woman I had never seen before getting all excited when she saw the Divine Mercy picture on the wall next to the confessional. I made a point of introducing myself and asked where she was from. Turns out she was visiting to see if she would like to move here. She asked if we had Divine Mercy Chaplet and I directed her to the next parish over on Sunday afternoons. She was so happy that she moved here. I see her at mass all the time and she always makes a point of saying hello if I don’t see her first. Like I said… small towns are probably more cognizant of visitors and new folks.