Parish question


#1

Not sure where to post this, but maybe you all can help I am a revert, from 1994, after being away from the Church for 20 years. Later my husband converted. We live in rural Oklahoma where parishes are spread far apart- our local parish is our struggle. While Mass is offered by a faithful priest, we feel totally out of sync, unneeded, we haven’t been to Mass in months and no one has contacted us at all to see what is going on. I miss the close fellowship in the protestant churches we have seen in the past- has anyone else dealt with something similar? Theology isn’t the problem so much as interaction… don’t want to sound like I’m whining…:blush:


#2

I can relate to your situation. We finally gave up on our parish after our teenagers became totally alienated by our dead church. We had to send the kids to a Non-Denominational youth group because of the lack of any religious ed at our church, and my daughter finally told me that she really thinks Protestants are more on fire for God. She told me that our Catholic church was dead. That finally tipped the scales for us after years of struggling with this parish and its deadness.

We went to a really nice Christmas Eve service at a Community Church and plan to go back for more.


#3

Every parish is made up of ordinary people just like us. I’m sorry nobody has contacted you but perhaps they don’t know much about you if you haven’t been involved for months. Why have you not been attending Mass? Is it due to illness? If so have you contacted your parish to ask them to bring Holy Communion to you?

At times when we see something missing it is up to us to introduce it. At various times I have started groups to bring people together because I saw and felt the need myself. What have you done to attempt to be involved in your parish? Have you talked to your parish priest about your experience? I hope that your faith life improves in 2010 :o. Every blessing to you!


#4

This is a hard thing to deal with for someone such as yourself, who has tasted the warm fellowship found in many protestant/evangelical/fundamentalist churches. I am a convert, but had fallen away from faith for many years. I knew however what I was getting into in regards to fellowship etc. as I attended Mass for many years with my cradle catholic wife before finally bending to the persuasion of a patience and long suffering Father. One thing you must remember about the Catholic/Universal Church is that it is just that. Most evangelical churches are small (relatively) select groups of people who have chosen to worship and fellowship selectively with those who agree with them in doctrine and practice. Of course if there is disagreement a new church is founded around a new set of agreements and doctrinal statements so as to keep everyone on the same page, that is until there is a new disagreement. It is only natural that these smaller more cohesive groups would foster a more intimate climate of fellowship.

A wise teacher once said, think not of the Catholic Church as a country club for saints, but rather as a hospital for the sick. That reflection helped me a lot. In a very public and large church (over one billion) strong, you are going to find a huge diversity of people, a sometimes overwhelming, immense diversity of cultural, spiritual, and theological belief, understanding and practice.

Please remember in your struggle, that Jesus is present in the Mass in a way that He is not in a protestant worship or praise service, and that is in the Eucharist. There is no more intimate way to fellowship with God than through the reception of Christ in the Eucharist. It is in receiving Christ in the Eucharist that we have fellowship, first with God the Father, Son, and Holy spirit, the Trinity, the most holy and sublime fellowship known to man, and secondly one with another in our shared worship and thanksgiving (Eucharist means thanksgiving), thirdly with all of creation as we are dismissed to share the good news of Heaven come down to earth, each and every time the Mass is said, for the salvation of the world.

I would encourage you to seek God’s face for your vocation in your current scenario. Fall in love with Jesus in the Eucharist. Love is infectious. You yourself may be exactly what is missing in the parish(es) you have visited.


#5

i know what you mean about the social aspect. while it is good to go to worship for its own sake, you also want to feel in communion with the poeple around you, like you have a family there, and friends.

we go to an Indian Baptist church, and the fellowship there is very warm, and strong. we are a motley bunch, but we love each other, and fit in. some are more theologically liberal, others more conservative, but we all love and believe the Bible, and love and serve Christ. it is Him who keeps us together and worshipping, not ourselves.

what about talking to the priest about starting a Bible study / prayer group at your parish? or setting up times for prayer / devotion at the chapel, with the intention of also allowing the parishioners to get to know one another better?


#6

If the priest is a faithful one, he will welcome your comments and help. Our parish, although small, is very much alive and on fire for God. We have Bible Study, a Catholic book club, charismatic prayer group, Religious education for all ages, VBS, social activities, and so much more. And we have Adoration every Monday night and all day on First Fridays. I am convinced that Adoration is the key to power of our faith.

You can and should make a difference in your church. If you believe in the Real Presence, then there is no other place for you but the Catholic Church. Make your parish better. I have Bible Studies, book club discussion questions, and family Sunday School lessons I’ve done that you are welcome to use. Send a private message and I’ll send it to you.

Maybe you and the priest can get a small group of people together to Renew your Parish. He may be praying for just such a thing right now. You may wonder if you have enough time. You can give whatever time you have and it will make a difference.


#7

I think one of the problems in Catholic parishes is that they tend to be large and it’s easy for people to get lost in the crowd.

If there’s someone I normally see at Mass and then I don’t see them, it’s hard to know what’s up. Are they sick? Did they move away? Or did they simply start attending a different Mass than the one I attend?

I’m a big believer in getting connected to the parish. If you serve as an usher or catechist or are the person responsible for coffee and donuts occasionally, it’s an opportunity to get to know people in the parish (and for them to get to know you). In smaller groups you’re more likely to know that one family is away on vacation or another is away because of illness. And if someone should just disappear, it’s more likely that someone would call to check up on them.


#8

Sorry to hear about your situation! I think we cradle Catholics especially have a lot to learn from our Protestant friends about being on fire with the love of God.

I know it’s tough when you don’t feel a strong sense of community, but I agree with the others who posted that this is just an opportunity for you! Team up with a priest, and anyone else who wants to help and start to turn things around. If you are feeling there is something missing in the parish, then I guarantee that there are others who feel the same way. You just have to draw them out! And if it feels like too big a task for you, that’s ok, you won’t be doing it alone - God will help!

Will keep you and your parish in my prayers! God bless!


#9

Orchanian has expressed my opinion. I couldn’t be anything else but Catholic because I do believe in the Divine Presence etc.

I think EWTN helps a lot especially for people who are not near a church. I am near a CC but the discussions and information on EWTN are just wonderful and help to keep faithful.

Get involved. Tell the priest your problem and you might find others with the same feelings. I’ve left messages and never received a return call re. some ideas or contributions . Go figure. A neighbor came in last week venting that the priest snubbed her when she tried to volunteer. Needless to say, she will not be donating to his special project.

You could offer to start a Bible study, religious classes, luncehons for grieving parishioners, food pantry, religious gift shop, etc.


#10

By the way RGorton I am not a person who like to lead, far from it. But I do love to meet people and connect. So if I feel the need for a group or fellowship I look around for likely candidates and ask them if they might be interested. What I am good at is connecting people, bringing them together but then I ask who they think should lead or ask someone I know who I think is a natural leader to take that role. You can also just take turns each week with each person taking a turn leading the bible study for example. I guess I am just responding to that feeling that many of us have “I don’t want to be the one to try and make this happen!” But if you step out in faith and start small you can get the ball rolling. Blessings to you ;).


#11

I want to thank you all for your suggestions and ideas, honestly I hadn’t considered it may be the Lord directing us - I will talk to our priest, he is also a convert, and at the time he came to the parish, he had a full plate to rein in the liberalism, he is very much a JPII priest- we do have adoration, thanks so much!!


#12

I have always found that whenever I set tests for people, they fail. Usually, they didn’t even know there was a test.

If you want to have a relationship with Jesus Christ in the Catholic Church, you can’t wait for permission or acknowledgment from human beings - you just have to go ahead and do it.

I miss the close fellowship in the protestant churches we have seen in the past- has anyone else dealt with something similar?

Yes. The first day that I went to Mass at my parish, after making the huge and difficult decision to convert, nobody said “Hello” to me or even acknowledged my existence. I was upset, but I thought, “I’ll make them feel bad,” so I went around to everyone I saw after the Mass, and welcomed them to the parish. Most of them laughed, but one guy said, “Thank you - after fifty years of coming here every Sunday, you are the first person ever to have spoken to me and welcomed me.”

So, from then on, I have always made a habit of smiling at everyone in Church, whether I know them or not. I make lots of new friends that way. :slight_smile:


#13

So, from then on, I have always made a habit of smiling at everyone in Church, whether I know them or not. I make lots of new friends that way.

Wow, interesting approach, especially the gentleman that kept being faithful… now that really touches my heart- thanks so much for sharing!!


#14

I can personally vouch for this, as I spent the first 18 and a half years of my life in OK. There are very few Catholics in that state. Most of them are either Hispanic or live in the cities, and if you live outside of OKC, Tulsa, or Lawton, you chances of having Catholic neighbors are less than 2%. I know it can be very discouraging, but you have to look at your situation through the prism of reality in that where you live is not representative of the rest of the country. Indeed, Oklahoma is definitely a Southern Baptist state by far. If you need to stay where your are, I can only ask that you not get discouraged. Also, don’t be afraid of letting your children leave home to find their faith if necessary. They may end up like me. I am the 3rd of 7, and I am the only one who left OK. It has been 12 years, and I still dream of moving back, but my faith has grown stronger here as I am blessed with an orthodox priest and an active parish. :thumbsup:

Only God knows what we really need. Don’t be afraid to let go and trust Him. Perhaps what the parish needs is some more of you. :smiley:


#15

[quote="Middleman, post:2, topic:181117"]
I can relate to your situation. We finally gave up on our parish after our teenagers became totally alienated by our dead church. We had to send the kids to a Non-Denominational youth group because of the lack of any religious ed at our church, and my daughter finally told me that she really thinks Protestants are more on fire for God. She told me that our Catholic church was dead. That finally tipped the scales for us after years of struggling with this parish and its deadness.

We went to a really nice Christmas Eve service at a Community Church and plan to go back for more.

[/quote]

They may have a really nice Christmas Eve service, but they won't have the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Risen Lord in the Eucharist.


#16

You hear Catholics fall back on that argument. My experience was that it didn’t seem to have much effect on people. Perhaps it’s merely akin to the Emperors New Clothes? I don’t know, but I do know I never saw any evidence of cause and effect when it came to the Eucharist. It seemed to be a hollow promise with no results.


#17

Then that is part of the problem. The effects of God’s grace are not justified by the observation of the eyes of Man. I think your expectations may have been a little too high. If you are getting nothing out of a parish, then maybe you be standing up and puting in some work in areas that are needed. I have taught CCD and Confirmation for 8th and 9th graders. I love parents who used to complain that their kids were disconnected, until coming to my class. A parish is only as alive as its volunteers and participants. Perhaps not you personally, but everyone here needs to ask themselves how they are contributing. It’s great if you give 10% of your treasure, but what about 10% of your time? :wink:


#18

You hear Catholics fall back on that argument. My experience was that it didn’t seem to have much effect on people. Perhaps it’s merely akin to the Emperors New Clothes? I don’t know, but I do know I never saw any evidence of cause and effect when it came to the Eucharist. It seemed to be a hollow promise with no results.

I can understand this response. While there certainly have been many saintly disciples throughout the ages in both Catholic and protestant circles, it might be illuminating to study the lives of the Early Church Fathers, the mystics, martyrs, and so many other Catholic Christians who have made phenomenal contributions to Christ’s Kingdom here on earth. It should not take long to realize the grand scope of the Church’s impact on culture, society, and religion, especially in the Western World. No other organization in the history of the World even comes close. You might begin with a study of the life of John Paul II, a life lived in supernatural heroism in the midst of some of the darkest times in human history. Are there lot’s of nominal Catholics, sure? Would you suspect something different any sampling of humans that numbers more than one billion?

We believe Christ is in the Eucharist in a way that transcends every other sacrament, every other liturgy, and it is by faith that we accept this teaching. The thousands of pieces of anecdotal and empirical information we can gather through observation and study of the lives of the Saints and the accomplishments of the Church down through the ages add rationality to our belief.

Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. KJV John 6:53

Think about it…:slight_smile:


#19

I had a similar response from a parish in Kansas. No one greeted me, and there were no programs for myself or my family. I was trying to join the church from a Protestant background but the RCIA was seeming only geared for returning Catholics. There was no attempt to have me speak with a Priest (still haven’t ever). I ultimately gave up on the church entirely because of this parish’s response.


#20

People whose hearts are closed or who live in sin, do not gain much from the Eucharist. The majority of people do not achieve salvation, Catholics included. These are troubled times especially too.

That said, the Eucharist, received in a state of grace, with proper intention, is always tremendously and incalculably helpful.

To say ‘hollow promise’ is frankly, something you should never say of Christ.

Eucharistic adoration is tremendously beneficial. Communion immensely benificial. Once Faith is there, all graces come. It is our hearts that must open to receive them and live God’s will.

For those who do not make much progress – without Communion, they would be far worse than that. So they should be all the more thankful. :slight_smile:


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