How long did it take you to get used to your current parish?


#21

I still go to my home parish once a month (I’m at university right now, across town) because I cantor.

I’m trying to figure out what to do for Mass - last semester I went to the ones on campus, but there were a lot of things I couldn’t get used to (yeah, I know it’s superficial, but I can’t help not liking terrible homilies and hymns), so I’m trying to find somewhere else this semester.

Today, I checked out an old church that does Tridentine Masses, and it was interesting, but I think I’m going to go to the cathedral next week, and see if I like that better (it’s also easier to get to on the bus, with less walking :D). Hopefully it won’t take much time to get used to Masses there.

So basically, I’m still trying to find a church to get used to, and still going to my home parish isn’t making it any easier!


#22

I converted 6 1/2 years ago. We moved 4 months later to a different town. So I wasn’t in my home parish very long.
It was a big adjustment moving to a new town, a new parish and a new faith. It has been a bumpy ride with peaks and valleys.


#23

I’ve belonged to four different Catholic churches in my life, and the one I am at now is where I will stay. I love it.:slight_smile: The church is beautiful, outside and inside, and the priest, deacon, greeters, ushers, parishioners, etc. are all so nice. I didn’t have to “get used to it” at all. I loved it right from the first morning I walked in the doors.:slight_smile:


#24

I have switched parishes, more than once. The last move to the current parish, I wanted to lector and decided that the move would be a good time to come forward on this. Likewise, I had our sons altar serve (they already were experienced). I think these types of involvements with a parish does help one be more comfortable. You get to know others in volunteering. I think that it is a little obsessive to drive 3 hours for a parish to feel “comfortable”. Does that mean that there are not any Catholic Churches that are good enough between his current home and last parish?. There seems to be more to this than “feeling comfortable”. Has he tried to involve himself? It almost seems like the issue maybe more about letting go and accepting the new than about parish changes.


#25

For my coworker, I’m not sure how long he was at his previous parish (I think it was over 20 years), but I do know that he was extremely involved and it really was the center of his and his family’s life. Most of their friends went there, he and his wife were lectors, etc. They only had two priests while he was there, both of whom were there for very long periods and he became friends with each of them. It was also a smaller parish and one of the oldest in his area. His new parish is huge and very young with a an extremely modern, mega-church type feel. They’re on their third priest since he moved there (first one reached the end of his tenure, then an intermediary priest until the new permanent priest was found). He said none of their main priests have been real personable, but that could be just due to the fact that the parish is so big he doesn’t have time for much personal interaction. He also seldom sees their main priest because they have so many Masses on the weekend (I thought he said ten total) that you never know if you’re going to see him, one of the associate priests or a visiting priest (they have a college or seminary nearby and are always getting visiting priests). He said his new parish is very impersonal and they still don’t really know anyone there. It’s also so big that while he’s been able to sign up as a lector and Eucharistic minister, there are so many people on the list that he’s almost never scheduled. He said there’s another parish nearby but it’s extremely progressive and more modern than his new parish and he likes it even less.

For us, I think there’s a lot of reasons why it took us so long to warm up to our parish. I’d been at my previous parish almost my entire life and had gone to grade school there. It was more an extension of home than someplace we went on the weekends. When we came to our current parish, it simply wasn’t my old parish. There were a lot of reasons for that (one can be summed up by the fact that the first time anyone ever welcomed me to the parish was two or three years ago when a lady I’d seen before didn’t recognize me after I got new glasses and a haircut). Putting in more effort helped, but for a long time we always felt like outsiders.

I think if we moved again I would probably try out the local parishes before settling on an area. We were considering moving a couple years ago and actually went to Mass at the parishes in the areas we were looking at. Two were very small parishes, one in an extremely old church, the other modern. The people were so friendly and welcoming at each of them that we actually felt uneasy because we’d never experienced anything like that. They were both pretty traditional parishes overall, and at the one half the people in there were praying the Rosary before Mass. They were the sort of parish I’d probably feel at home in by the end of the first Mass. The other one we went to caused us to cross that area off our list. The church itself looked like it was designed by a bunch of hippie futurists who’d spent the weekend zoning out to folk music and watching the movie Godspell. Lots of odd angles and abstract art. They had a keyboard and guitar pit in the choir loft and another group of guitarists next to the altar. The priest was all about dropping names, telling jokes and praying for change. I couldn’t see myself ever feeling right there.


#26

I’ve been in my current parish for nine years (it is my 12th territorial parish, in three countries), and I’m still not “used to” it. Getting “used to” a new parish and feeling “at home” and “welcome” there aren’t quite the same thing. I’ve made myself at home in this parish, but I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it.

I spent the first six years of my residence in the parish coming to Mass on Sundays but doing absolutely nothing else. Everything changed when I decided to step out the shadows. How and why this happened is a long story I will spare you the details of.

In six months, I went from being just another face in the crowd to becoming head sacristan. It’s been challenging at every stage: when I was anonymous, I had a lot of privacy but no fellowship; when I first volunteered, I made scores of enemies in the form of other active long-time parishioners who for unknown reasons felt threatened by my presence as well as opponents of the pastor who picked on me due to my association with him; since this pastor appointed me head sacristan, I have managed to form a few friendships and change the minds of some of my critics. I’d say I have more allies than adversaries now, but only just. The parish is by and large a den of vipers. Tuesday mornings and Friday afternoons are particularly frustrating. I smile through it all.

While I agree with those who have suggested involvement in parish activities as a way to accelerate integration into a new parish, I would follow that recommendation up with a warning that parish service isn’t a magic bullet and becoming involved could actually make things worse, at least at first.

So why do I stay? -]Three/-] Four reasons:

[LIST=1]
*]Through the responsibilities I’ve been blessed with, I’m trying to bloom where I’ve been planted.
*]While my relationship with the laity has largely been acrimonious, the clergy and I generally get on quite well. Over time, my association with the priests and deacons in the parish has led to similar associations with priests and deacons outside the parish. My interaction with them has been and continues to be of tremendous benefit to my spirituality as well as to my humanity.
*][added in edit] Because human beings are involved, I have no right to expect perfection. Others have to put up with my flaws just like I have to put up with theirs.
*]I simply will not be chased from my own parish.
[/LIST]

:getholy:


#27

I admire you then and I’ve heard time and time again that priests come and go - just live with the unhappy time - it won’t last forever. However, there is a great deal of pain in our hearts and we were “chased” from the parish we loved, having found not only spiritual fulfillment there, but love and acceptance as well. We had been in on the ground floor since the church building was built and dedicated and it was so nice to have a “voice” from the beginning. A year and 1/2 later, a new pastor was assigned and we were astonished at the changes that happened within a 6-month period. They were foreign to us and actually violated our Catholic sense when the focus of community worship went from an emphasis of praise to God and “Sacrifice” to placing man in the forefront.

We had to change parishes and several families subsequently left as well. We now go clear across town to be at peace with the liturgy as it is celebrated there and we’re back with our former pastor. But there’s a disconnect mostly because of distance. It’s hard to be at meetings and functions when we live so far away and that has curtailed our involvement to some degree.


#28

At least a year. My current parish is light years better than my old one so it was a year of pleasant surprises. I am sure that about the time I am used to this one, we will move again but hopefully be settled for a while. I have been a member of around 12 parishes.


#29

When I converted back in 1992, I was a member of a very small parish in the southeast U.S. …It was my “home parish” and I was involved in music and a lector. I moved back to my home state in 2000, and finally came back to the Church last year after many years away.

At first I went to the closest Catholic Church to my home…I dearly loved the pastor…he welcomed me back very warmly in my first confession in many years, but after that first confession and mass, it seemed he was never around…only the parochial vicars. And although I attended faithfully the same mass every week and saw the same parishioners, not one of them made any effort to extend any sort of welcome to me. (Since I battle severe Social Anxiety Disorder, I was unable to reach out to them.)

Anyway, I live on the border between two parishes, so since the 1st of the year, I have attended mass at the other parish. I’ve not been “formally” welcomed there either, but the ambiance of the parish is totally different, if that makes any sense. When I go there I “feel” at home. The pastor there has offered almost every mass I’ve attended…even though I have gone at various times/days. He also looks me directly in the eye when he speaks to me after mass, instead of over my shoulder to the next person in the greeting line…I don’t feel like I’m being rushed in and out of his presence for the sake of time.

I will probably register with this parish this week and see what I can offer back in the way of time/talent/treasure. I’m sure once I become more involved I’ll feel more welcome and even more “at home” than I do already.


#30

Yes, it does make it tough to switch and change when there has been long term involvement and ties with a parish. That is understandable. I wonder if your friend could talk to the person or persons doing the schedule and ask to be used more in the ministries he has previously done. I know the squeaky wheel gets the grease if you know what I mean. Even with long term ties to a parish, I think he can slowly start to involve himself when possible.


#31

six months is a pretty fast rise to head sacristan, the priest must have been unhappy with previous people or wanted to break up the cliques and saw you as a new fresh face to do so. Yes, involvement isn’t always a magic bullet. But I think for me becoming a lector in a parish has really helped and had no other ambitions than that. I think when people move and have to start over again, it is hard to go back to a bottom and work up when they were previously and heavily involved at the parish. Just as a general observation, I think Catholics can become rather possessive of their parish. While we are suppose to have deep roots and loyalty, I think the fact sometimes is forgotten that we are also part of a larger more universal Catholic Church. Yes, one can be baptized, go to school, get married, raise their kids in a particular parish and all the sentimental ties that holds. But our faith journey is just that a journey and journeys mean change and not standing still and sometimes that may mean we move and have to start again at a new parish.


#32

Because of my wife’s job over the past seven years we have moved so often we dont have time to get use to a new parish. We have moved 5 times in the past 7 years


#33

This is an excellent point. One of the things I have to combat in my job in the parish is dealing with the notion that the nearby larger, more traditional parish is somehow populated by nuts. When the “feel” of a parish is at one end of the spectrum, and then there is another near that is very different, then this “us vs. them” mentality forms, and it is very regrettable. I enjoy going to their Masses in the summer time, when I’m not pressed for time and can drive the extra miles, and my friends and co-workers will exclaim “What in the world were you doing over THERE?” and roll their eyes. My reply’s is always “attending Mass. It was lovely”.
People go to a parish they love because of their friends. But who is our BEST friend?
I think we can find Him in every parish. Robwar is right. Sometimes you just have to start over. Re-boot.
** And remember why we are there in the first place.**


#34

Gordon thanks and that seems to reflect what I’ve heard about the people who’ve left our parish as a result of the changes made. We too had two short term interim Pastors. We LOVED the first one and hoped he’d return to us. The second one made it clear he was doing this as an obedient servant but did not want to be a parish priest (he’d been in college and prison ministry for his entire priesthood). Ironically after about six months, he hit his stride and really started to like being a parish priest and we really appreciated him. But alas he was moved and now we are on our fourth priest since 2012. He’s been here a year and I think it’s getting to be a better atmosphere. I do think the priest sets the tone and if you don’t connect with him, it’s hard to plug into the parish.

I too think if I move, I will make sure a good parish is part of the area! It’s too much part of my life to not feel at home. Thanks again for your note. Very thoughtful and interesting .


#35

Catholics sounds a bit like Lutherans in this regard. The little Lutheran Handbook that they give to new Lutheran church members has a chapter with the title, “How to Respond When Someone Sits in Your Pew”. :smiley:

Among the bits of advice it gives are:

  1. Smile and greet the 'intruders". Oftentimes they are visitors to your congregation - new blood. Avoid creating bad blood you might regret later on. Make solid eye contact so they know you mean it, shake hands with them, and leave no impression they they’ve done something wrong.

  2. View the “intrusion” as an opportunity. Remember, you don’t own the pew; you just borrow it once a week. Take the opportunity to get out of your rut and sit someplace new. This will physically emphasize a change in your perspective and may yield new spiritual discoveries.


#36

I like that. Thanks!


#37

Although I’m sure it happened, off the top of my head I can’t think of a time that anyone sat in “our” pew. We were never so attached to it that we would have made a fuss over it. A lot of the people at that parish were creatures of habit, though, so you always knew where certain families would be and very seldom did you have people sitting in the “wrong” place.


#38

I got the feeling that he’s not so interested in doing more at this parish. I recommended finding another smaller parish nearby, or at least not as far away as his old parish, and going there. I know he has more within a reasonable distance than just his home parish and the other one, but he didn’t seem too interested in shopping around. It tends to make him miserable but at least it gives us something to talk about during slow periods.


#39

I would encourage him to join you and your family some weekend. The only way to combat the feeling of not fitting in is to sit beside someone who likes you already. :wink:

But yeah…I would continue to encourage him. This type of thinking (that no parish will ever live up to the past parish) is what drives the threads about the Latin Mass, the EF vs. the OF, and all the arguments that folks get into about what “feeds” them and what is correct. It will only make him bitter and less inclined to be open to a new parish.
All of us have our comfort zones. But it’s also important to remember that while a particular place might not be optimum,based on our experience, it is approved, licit, valid, and Christ is indeed present. that’s the whole point of the Catholic Mass. I imagine that if I went to a Mass in Sri Lanka, it might look really different in cultural practice, but it’s Mass.

Grace. Encourage him to go get some. :thumbsup:


#40

It is funny how we get into a pattern of sitting in the same place but in a way that’s good as if you are looking for someone, you know where to find them! When our church was built it was completely different than the old (rented) space so I tried a few places. The sound system was just flat awful and the acoustics were worse so I started sitting near the front directly below one of the speakers. Otherwise I couldn’t hear or understand the words. We’ve improved the sound system and I don’t have to sit there anymore but again it gets to be a habit. One time our priest challenged us for the next few weeks to sit somewhere else. It’s funny how uncomfortable we felt! But I wouldn’t be annoyed if someone sat in “my” space :smiley:


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