Help needed; joined parish but feeling unwelcome?


Hi all,

I was just wanting some advice on a group of people which attend our parish.

My husband is Catholic and I’m currently waiting for the next RCIA course so I can be baptised and we live in the UK. (We are now Married within the Catholic Church.) We have started to attend Mass at our local parish and I’m really starting to find my way… I was brought up in a mixed family (Half Anglican and half Catholic) and my parents never baptised me…so now I feel I can take the next steps and attend the RCIA course and practise the Catholic faith. My only issue is the people during mass. They make me feel so uncomfortable… I’m a well dressed person and was always taught to be respectful in church, so I cant think of anything I could have done wrong.

We find that, generally, the church is quite noisy, even during the mass. A lot of people leave before the end, too. Generally during, some are not keeping their children quiet at all, and they are sometimes talking at the most important parts. Even one or two in the choir, facing us from the front.

On a number of occasions I’ve been scowled at, and ‘looked up and down’. I paid and lit a votive candle and a woman practically arrested me, shouting, “You put the money in the box!”. I told her I had, and she was actually extremely apologetic; but I don’t think this should have happened in the first place.

There are some women who seem very acrive in the parish- in the choir, and one is a eucharistic minister. But the E/M is quite ireverrant (one of the ones talking during communion and after) and she was blatantly talking about me to her companion (sister?).

The only thing I think I could have ‘done’ is that we sit on one side, and have to make our way to the middle to get a blessing, which is done in this parish. I always want to go up for a blessing since I can’t receive communion yet, and the priest is always pleased to do this I’m not sure since we’re ‘going against the flow’ of people that they don’t like this. But, no one else seems to mind, and we’re going to sit in the middle aisle next time.

Besides, they seem to be acting in this way all the time. We have counted 7 occasions where someone has made us feel uncomfortable. My husband has noticed it too, and also that people are generally quite ‘rowdy’ compared to the norm.

We’re thinking of travelling further to the parish we were married in, although we don’t live there.

Should we say something? Ignore them? Stop going to this church? It’s a shame because the priests there are very friendly and encouraging.

We noticed some of the ‘repeat offenders’ were very unfriendly towards an American visitor last weekend. So, perhaps it isn’t just us!


First of all, I am so sorry this is going on in your Parish. It sounds like (and I could be wrong, so forgive me) that there is very poor catechesis going on. If people were aware of the incredible gift of The Mass, of the heartache and suffering the people of the UK went through to stay Catholic, if they realized that every time they declared their faith by reciting the Nicene Creed that they are standing on the shoulders of GIANTS, they would not behave that way.

It sounds like you have a good relationship with the Parish priest. Have you spoken to him about what you have experienced and observed? It sounds like it may be time for some tough love from the ambo!

Meanwhile, welcome on your journey. I hope you find what I have found in The Catholic Church.:thumbsup:


Hello and Welcome!!
There really is no way to answer your question other than to suggest that maybe you and your husband pray about it.

Perhaps God would have you stay in that parish and be His instrument in gently changing the atmosphere.

Or perhaps He would have you find another parish.
Have you talked with the priests there since you have found them very warm and encouraging about your concerns? You may find them helpful. :slight_smile:


I don’t think there’s a hard-and-fast law saying that you HAVE to go to the church where you’re technically “domiciled”. People go where they feel comfortable. We generally don’t go to our “local church” because they have Mass at 8:30 Sunday morning - and DH and I are not morning people. We go to a later Mass elsewhere. (This is the only Sunday morning Mass they have in our area - we are in a “cluster” parish. The only other option is Mass on Saturday evening at the hospital, and DSD gets nervous because a lot of the parishioners are from the long-term care unit.)

When I was very young, we lived in Wisconsin. There was a church we were supposed to attend. My parents went there once and found out they ran the place like General Motors. They promptly quit going there and took us to a parish in another community just outside the city. We had a wonderful priest there who baptized 3 of my siblings and remained a family friend for many years.


Pray for them, and remember you are there to receive Jesus. I would also recommend reading Saint Therese of Lisieux’s The Story of a Soul.
God be with you


I was received into the church at easter this year, and i know how you feel i travel to a church that i like, though there are three more local to me, im also in the UK, i feel like you do at times, and dont go up for communion as i feel, im in the way and i dont take my children up either, since Easter i have only received communion twice, and the priest always asks why, some members of the church are nice some just look at you as if you shouldn’t be there like its invitation only, i once mentioned this to the priest and he said that he had never considered that before. I sit at the back so my son’s pushchair is out of the way and even then people seem to go a weird way to get to the front of the church for communion, so last Sunday i moved sits, maybe i should start sitting at the front but i guess that will create problems to as there to have been reserved before hand.

Maybe i can go and sit next to the priest there is always a spare sit there:rotfl:


Well stated.


Such great rejoicing in my heart to welcome another to the Catholic Faith!

Now for your quandary:
I do recommend sitting where it is easier to receive the priestly blessing; however, if this is uncomfortable or you are unable to do so easily, rest assured that you are also being blessed by the priest at the end of Mass, in his final prayers. If the priest is always in the center during communion, make sure to sit where you don’t have to to change lines or pews obviously. I know some people, instead of going through a pew/aisle, will go to the back of the church and come up from the back instead. (Some people will only receive communion from a Priest.) You can ask the priest, or take note of, where he distributes communion at, and sit accordingly. If you can’t get a blessing during one of the Masses you attend, pray for a spiritual communion (there are special prayers available if you need one) instead.

Please do not let the actions of a few dictate your worship for God, your Mass attendance. Is there another time that you can go to Mass at this parish? Pray for them, and pray to God that you can worship Him fully at Mass. This might be a small challenge compared to ones you might face in the future. :slight_smile:

There are things I’m dealing with at my parish, some similar, some different, and I find that if I keep my head down and pay attention only to my prayer and to the Mass (not the people around me) I make a more holy Mass in my attendance. It isn’t always easy, but God’s Grace has helped me develop it over the past year.

Again…my heart rejoices for you!


Just ignore it unless someone actually insults you. You will find ignorance and stupidity wherever you go. Just worry about yourselves and ignore the rest. Volunteer whenever you can and I’m sure you will meet some nice folks. You can also go to your home parish, occasionally at least.



Hi there, I’m also a UK recent convert. I have been lucky as the church I chose for my RCIA course has been very friendly - I attend on my own, I don’t mind doing that. I also attend a church in Italy, where I don’t speak the language, but even so, people smile and shake my hand warmly.

If you have another church nearby, why not try it out? You’ll soon know if you have found the right one. I also went to some prayer groups/meetings whilst I was doing the RCIA, and found many friendly people there whom I then could smile at in church.

Don’t let it put you off, at least you are able to attend as a couple and you’ll always have the support of your husband! I personally wouldn’t stay anywhere where I didn’t feel welcome, but that’s just me - I’m quite happy to try somewhere new.

And to the lady who mentions “reserved” seats at the front (presumably ones where the same people sit every time) - as a lovely lady at my church said to me, “Sit wherever you like, there are no reserved seats in God’s house”. :slight_smile:


We attended one parish for a whole year and there was a busy-body that went out of her way to make certain people feel unwelcome. We finally told the priest about her actions, he smiled and said she was not all ‘up there’, she was in the choir because it gave her something to keep her busy yet she really could not carry a tune. So we learned to ignore her and just smile like the priest did. Maybe when you are there a little longer you will meet others who make you feel welcome. In the meantime, be patient with others as Christ is with us.


I agree with this. I grew up in a Parish that sounds very much like this UK parish. Some people are very loud, judgemental and not very reverent. Plus the catechesis was terrible when I was a kid. But on the other hand, there are tons of worderful people and very reverent people there (they even have an EF Mass once a month). I know that the wonderful & reverent people outnumber the jerks; but it only takes one bad apple to spoil a bunch.

I read a study once that it’s usually only a max of 7 or 8% of the parish that behave this way and make others feel unwelcome or unworthy. These are power hungry people and because of this hunger, they are often on committees, EMHCs, etc.

My aunt talks about how some women in the parish pushed her away from the church after she was divorsed (because her husband hit her). She said that the priest was wonderful, but the catty women forced her out. The sad thing is that she has beleived what some of them said. I told her to simply go to Confession and return to the sacurments (she’s not married) and only listen to a holy, orthodox priest when it comes to matters like these.

I find that if you are “tight” with the Priests, you will eventurally be “tight” with the parish.

People can be jerks, even practicing Catholic Christians. Pray for them.

Finally, piece of advise: if you are going to go up for a blessing, sit in the pews where the people receive communion from that priest. If you are not sitting in one of those pews, stay sitting.

God Bless.


Thanks for sharing this, and sorry you experienced this too.

Thank you everyone for your posts on this so far, I really appreciate it.

From Casilda: “We attended one parish for a whole year and there was a busy-body that went out of her way to make certain people feel unwelcome. We finally told the priest about her actions, he smiled and said she was not all ‘up there’, she was in the choir because it gave her something to keep her busy yet she really could not carry a tune”–

  • we have this exact same person!!


When it comes to the sacrament of baptism and marriage it matters which parish a person receives them in. If it happens outside of one’s territorial parish, the priest at your parish needs the pastor’s permission from their territorial permission to administer them the sacraments.


Dear SkippyKerrie,
My first parish in the Catholic Church was headed
by a “Newfy” priest from Newfoundland, which is
part of Atlantic Canada where I hail from. I got into
trouble the first winter I was there, even BEFORE I
was thru the RCIA. I had a spat with a fellow choir
member… and anyway to make a long story short,
I STAYED and I’m glad I did, it helped ease my trans-
ition to my present parish last September and I’m
still on good terms with my “Newfy” priest!


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit