IYO: Are Catholic weak on fellowship?

In Your Opinion, are Catholics weak on fellowship?


For the most part, YES.

My experience with parishes in the USA says yes.

Depends on what you mean by fellowship? Is it attending theology classes together or hanging together after Mass or helping with upkeep of the church together, taking advantage of volunteer opportunities, etc.?
Our parish is good in these!

Yes. If our Protestant brethren have us beat on anything, its fellowship.



with our YOUTH - middle-school age and older

In many cases, I have been treated way friendlier by the Protestants
and believe me, I’ve reached out to the Catholics.

It depends on what you mean. If you mean strictly social events, then yes, most older parishes are. Younger (post Vatican II) parishes (which are typically filled with transplants) are usually better.

However, many (if not most) parishes have good Adult Faith Formation classes, Bible Study, parish trips, etc.

For example, my parish (founded in mid/late 1800s) has social events a few times a year (typically quarterly, or for some special occasion), but we have a bi-weekly Bible Study lead by the pastor (a Monsignor with a Ph.D. in Theology), a full plate of Adult Faith Formation courses, prayer groups, devotions, and have trips.

Examples of trips are: biannual trip to the Holy Land, biannual trip - the year we don’t go to the Holy Land - to other Catholic sites (Rome, Catholic Ireland, etc), local trips to shrines, plus this year the parish is sponsoring a “short trip” to see the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico.

I strongly believe that these events do more to foster Christian Fellowship than social events. Additionally, in many parishes, the people who frequent Daily Mass often get to know one another too.

One of the main reasons why Catholic Churches in America are terrible with social events is because historically parishioners were all friends outside of Church. During the week, the participated together in Catholic sporting leagues (like bowling), Knight of Columbus, Legion of Mary, etc. The Parish didn’t have to sponsor social events because the greater Catholic Community already did that.

After the 1950s, bishops, priests and nuns who subscribed to the Americanism Heresy pushed for an elimination of these Catholic social groups in order to promote Catholics to interact more with non-Catholics. The idea was that we could convert more Protestants if we moved out of the Catholic neighborhoods and acted more “American” and less like Catholic immigrants.

I think this can vary from church to church and region. In my church there is something going on all the time.

But you know, this cuts both ways.

I have encountered people in my day who consider Protestant churches to basically be a country club where people go to socialize and to network. Some folks may even use that as a reason to avoid Christianity altogether. “These people aren’t here for God, they’re here to meet nice folks they can build friendships with. I can do that at my Mensa club.” That’s a very judgmental attitude, but not everyone will see an active fellowship in a non-critical manner. Especially if that fellowship happens to be a bit of a church-running clique.

My own mother stopped going to church because of reasons like that, coupled with a perceived hypocrisy on the part of certain church members. I’m of course not saying she’s right on this, but I’m sure she’s not alone. And I’m sure a lot of the folks who are drawn to simply watching televangelists on Sunday feel the same. “Better messages, less social drama.”

So yes, I agree with you … but it’s not always a good thing.

It’s sad when people leave the Church because they are not being entertained enough. I think the level of fellowship is a poor measure when compared against which church is teaching the most truth.

Not in our Mission Church. I love the people in our congregation. We have lots of fun and fellowship together.

Nearly everyone in our parish is on a first name basis, everyone has ministry that they are involved in, and we sort of love bomb newcomers.

Be the change you’d like to see, bit honestly, these things come from the top. I’d it’s a priority to any pastor that’s there for any length of time, then you can’t undo that mindset.

In the area where I live, small parishes, particularly rural ones, have many groups and activities in which members of the parish participate. As the size of parishes increase, and they are located in more urban areas, there are usually at least as many, if not more, activities and groups available, but a far smaller percentage of the members of each parish participate.

I’m a Protestant Christian who’s attended a number of Catholic services in my time and on precious few occasions have I ever encountered anything that resembled a normal church family. Most of the time it’s like nobody knows each other, and everyone’s out the door and into their cars as soon as the service is over.

The irony is that I’ve often heard Catholics accuse Protestants of “following a community-rejecting, lone-wolf, ‘me, my Bible and Jesus’ faith”.

Who said anything about being entertained? Humans are social animals, we aren’t designed to function in total isolation.

You’ve illustrated the sort of attitude I’m talking about. It seems that a non-zero amount of Catholics look on fellowship with suspicion, instead of growing together and supporting each other as a local church family.

If the expectation is fellowship is tied directly to the time around worship then I could see how people do not see it. In larger parishes you can literally have thousands of people attending over 5, 6, 7+ masses. Because masses are often scheduled with perhaps 30 - 60 minutes between each one, many people are trying not to get caught in the tide between the incoming and outgoing mass goers.I think for many Catholics Sundays are time for worship and spending time with their immediate families. Even people we know well we might only say hi to because we know we’ll see them several times during the week. Most of the inter-family fellowship is in gatherings outside of mass in my experience.

I was raised Presbyterian and I can guarantee you that there were just as many people rushing to their cars after church services as in a Catholic parish, so I’m not sure what a “normal church family” means short of a family that meets your expectations. Just because they aren’t hanging around at church all day doesn’t mean that it’s not a “normal church family”, but simply different from your limited view of the family. :shrug:

Your mileage may vary, but I think major factor the number of masses. My former independent Baptist church was much larger in the building and much smaller in numbers. There was one Sunday morning service after Sunday School. It put everyone together at the same time each week. There was no chance to bounce from the 08:00 to the 10:00 to the 12:00. Throw in the bonding from meeting in the smaller groups of Sunday School and you had a real community.

People had regular places to sit. You knew who belonged where. You knew when someone wasn’t there.

I moved out of state before beginning my journey across the Tiber. The last time I returned to my home town and visited my old church showed me something I would never see in my parish.

As I entered the church, I spotted an empty area and took a seat. Someone came over and whispered, “Mrs. Smith usually sits here.” I moved. Another person caught my eye and told me that another person usually sat there. The third time was a charm. This was in a church that seats about eight-hundred people.

Another factor comes into play too. In the Baptist church, there is no belief in real presence, so people in the pews chat and visit before church starts. There is a little of that in the narthex of my parish, but it tends to be more hurried. People sitting around the same ones every Sunday and who are free to chat do so.

The last point I’ll note is the arrival and the departure times. In my former church, getting into your seat ten to fifteen minutes ahead of the service was standard. Absolutely nobody ever came in late. Leaving early was unknown too. People were expected to speak to others on the way to the parking lot. Being unsocial would be noticed.

Same faces at the same time every Sunday and you get to know people.

I believe a lot of what is observed only could, could lead one to think there is no fellowship in the Catholic Church. For instance: we don’t speak in the sanctuary before or after Mass. This is “observed” by Protestants as rude. We don’t spend all day at church on Sunday and this is misinterpreted as no fellowship!

Indeed. The Gospel message is all about fellowship. But it’s not in simply befriending fellow member. It’s about the Corporal works of mercy.

So in that respect, given that the Catholic Church founded many schools, hospital, and elder care facilities, St, Vincent dePaul, the many Pro-Life ministries, Higher Education, etc…
we’re pretty good at “fellowship”.
We also do parties very well.

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