Getting to know people in the parish

What are your thoughts on good ways to get to know fellow parishioners? Our parish currently has too many Mass times in proportion to the number of attendees, so the parish population is spread thin, and there isn’t much for regular parish social events. I am willing to help organize something, but it would be nice if we could get a regular repeating event that people would come to. For example, when I was growing up in a small Protestant church, we had a monthly potluck that almost everyone stayed for, and we had weekly Bible studies or prayer meetings. I miss having “church family,” but the way Catholic parishes are set up makes it very difficult to create that same type of community.

A key part of the problem, in my opinion, is the unnecessary multiple Mass times. Honestly, we could probably fit all the regular weekend Mass attendees into one Sunday Mass, or to be safe you could split it up into two times. But instead we have four, so there are many parishioners who never see each other. And because there are three in a row on Sunday morning, there is not a great time to squeeze in a potluck or coffee / donut hour. What do you think - are there good ways to get around this problem?

P.S. The pastor is not currently willing to drop any Mass times; I suspect he thinks people will leave if we drop their favorite time. Maybe we can persuade him to revisit the idea someday, but not in the near future.

I’ve been Catholic for 3-4 years now, and I wondered why there were so many Mass times offered. It occurred to me that it may be because Mass is a mandatory obligation. With all the different work schedules and such, it makes sense to offer different times. We have Saturday Vigil Mass, Sunday 7 AM, 9 AM, 11 AM and 4:30 PM. I’ve had to attend each time at least once to meet my obligation. I found it easier to meet people through our various Bible Studies and such. Most seem anxious to leave as soon as Mass is over.

As @Dlee explained, this helps people with varying schedules fill their obligation. It is a kindness.

The very best way to meet people is to volunteer. When I arrived at my new parish 20 years ago, I walked in to the Director of Religious Education and said “do you need volunteers?” From that day on, I was called on to do everything from teach RE classes to RCIA to set up a library to plan receptions to later working for the Parish.

If nothing else, go to the next event and stay after to help clean up. Great time to meet people!


I know that is the idea, but I still am not convinced we need that many, especially in a city with a several Catholic parishes. A Saturday evening Mass plus one Sunday morning Mass would cover the vast majority of people’s schedules. Having three on Sunday morning just isn’t necessary, in my opinion.

I have volunteered with various things the whole time I have been a member there. I joined the parish women’s group (who were mostly a few decades older than me, but I really enjoyed getting to know them); I was a lector for a couple of years; I have helped plan and set up the parish picnic; I was on the RCIA team one year; I have been on different committees including the pastoral council; and I cantor for one or more of the Masses almost every weekend. My husband’s schedule doesn’t allow him to volunteer much, but he does lector for one of the Masses.

I mean, we know people and chat with them if they happen to stay after Mass, but it’s not the same as the tight-knit church community I grew up with (and it probably never will be; I will just have to get over that idea). But I think people would feel like more of a community if we weren’t spread thin over so many Mass times, and having just one on Sunday would allow for that better.

Does your parish have an evening RE program.

What worked really good for my wife’s parish was after the young kids got done with their class and before the older started theirs, there was an hour where a meal was available. That worked really well for getting people together in an way that didn’t seem forced. A lot of the parishioners seemed to know each other. They got rid of that and went to the family program, and now it’s back to nobody knowing each other or really not fellowshiping at all. They have family day and parent nights but it all seems forced…people waiting for it just to get over with.

As a non-Catholic I understand you about missing your “church family”…

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You know, I actually am not sure, although I think they do it Sunday morning? But we don’t have any kids, so it would look funny if we showed up after religious ed classes for the food. :smile: What you describe does sound like a good and effective way for families with children to get to know each other, though!

I appreciate someone getting it, thanks. :slight_smile: I am sure it must be possible to build strong communities within Catholic parishes, but the larger size of many parishes, plus the many Mass times just makes it more challenging.

As a shift worker who has to work weekends, I’m grateful for the different Mass times so I can work and worship and sleep.

That being said, a weekly Bible study or service activity are good ways to get to know people.


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