Please read and give your input. All are welcome to reply


#1

Hello everyone,

This is my first post here at CA. I think I’m posting in the right section, but I apologize if I’m not. Moderators, please fell free to move this if I’ve posted in the incorrect area, and I promise to be more careful in the future if this is in fact misposted.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I’d like to introduce myself. I’m a 35 year old single man. I was raised Pentecostal, but left the church for years and lived a very sinful life. Several years ago, I started researching the Christian faith, and I came to the conclusion that the Catholic Church is the real Church that was established by Jesus. I attended Mass at several parishes, all of which turned out to be completely heterodox. Of course, I left those parishes and kept looking. I did eventually find a parish that is completely orthodox in what it teaches. I was thrilled when I found this parish, and enrolled in the next available catechesis class. I’ve been at this parish for almost two years. Since then, I’ve joined the choir and have volunteered doing various things, such as cleaning up after the once a month Family Fun Days that are held after Mass on the last Sunday of each month.

Here is the problem though. I don’t have one friend at this parish. When I converted to the Catholic faith, all my friends (literally, all of them) abandoned me. I’ve tried to be friendly and get to know some people at my parish. I haven’t gone overboard, but I’ve been sociable and tried to engage people in conversation at the Family Fun Days and on choir practice days. I’ve had absolutely no luck. From what I’ve observed, the people seem to be very cliquish and unwelcoming towards newcomers at this parish. I’ve spoken to the priest, and he basically blew me off. I don’t plan to speak to him about this again. I realize that the purpose of going to Mass is not to socialize, but Christian fellowship is an important part of the Christian faith, whether Catholic or Protestant. Christian friends can help encourage each other in their walks with Christ, and can be positive influences on each other. I’m a firm believer in the old adage that “no man is an island.” I’ve become so discouraged and so burned out, I haven’t been to Mass in five weeks. I don’t want to go to any of the other local parishes that I’ve attended before, because they’re all so heterodox. I know that missing Mass without a legitimate reason is a mortal sin, but I can’t seem to get myself up on Sunday mornings and go. I feel so unwelcome at my parish and so out of place, I just can’t stand the thought of going. I was just confirmed this Easter (April, 2009), and I never dreamed that it would be so hard just to get involved and meet fellow parishioners. To make matters worse, the parish is small. There are less than 200 families in the parish. There are a handful of singles there, but most of the members are married with children. That may have something to do with it, but I don’t know for sure. I’ve never done or said anything rude to anyone there. In fact, no one really knows me there. I’m at a point of severe discouragement and I sincerely don’t know what to do. It’s crossed my mind to return to my old Protestant church, simply because the people were so friendly and welcoming there. However, I now believe that the Catholic Church is the true Church, so I feel like I’m between a rock and a hard place.

I don’t have the finances to move to another area right now, and I’m not sure I would anyway. Most of my family is here, and I don’t want to leave them. I know this post probably sounds pathetic, but I suppose posting here is my last resort. Has anyone else ever dealt with a situation like this, or is anyone currently dealing with a situation like this? Does anyone have any insight regarding how to deal with this situation? Seriously, not even the people on the choir are friendly. I’ve never experienced this before. I’ve been praying about it for months, but nothing has improved.

I thought that once I was confirmed in April, I would begin meeting and getting to know people and maybe even make a friend. One new convert has already left the parish, another is thinking of leaving (He told me recently), and another comes to Mass, but leaves immediatelty after and has nothing to do with anyone. (There were four of us converts this year.)

I briefly spoke to a young woman at church a few weeks ago and told her how I was feeling. She told me that “this is just how the people are here. They’re not friendly.” She said that she and her family have been attending this parish for six years, and are still ignored by most of the parishioners. They’ve found it nearly impossible to make friends and get to know people, but they stay because they like the priest and enjoy the Mass. It was nice to have my impressions validated, but discouraging to hear from another source that the people here at this parish are indeed unfriendly.

Any insights, anyone?

Just sign me an extremely discouraged new convert.


#2

Well, the good news is that it sounds as if you may be on your way to having a friend in this young woman . . . Isn’t that how we form friendships, one at a time?

Sadly, Catholic parishes are not known for friendliness on Sunday morning. It is pretty much in and out with the focus being on worshiping God and dealing with the parking lot. That is not to say that Catholics are not friendly, but unless you involve yourself in schools, religious education programs, parish councils, social justice groups, or charity groups, etc., you may never know how many friends there are waiting for you. As a single man, you may find the Knights of Columbus a good place to start, or perhaps one of the “hands on” ministries like St. Vincent DePaul that is always looking for a strong back to help out.

It was always easy for me to have friends in a parish when my children were young. Now that I am older, single, and working, it isn’t so easy. God bless . . .


#3

My dear friend

I’m very sorry to hear this. A big welcome to you too. I think many catholics find what you want outside of parish life. There are hundreds of lay groups and apostolates where you find all the most enthusiastic and friendly catholics get together. I like Opus Dei myself because it’s very satisfying spiritually but you also get a commeradery like the first christians. You can see if their near you here opusdei.us/ there in many countries. I know I live far way but if you want a catholic penpal I’m available. Just email or PM me. And welcome to the biggest family on earth- Gods family in Gods church. I’ll pray for you and contact me as said if you want to talk or know more about catholicism or anything. I’m all ears.

May God bless you abundantly dear friend:thumbsup::slight_smile:

John


#4

Isn’t it awful to be a Catholic in a vacuum? Now you get to be a Catholic saint, with heroic love. Get on Craig’s list and post for a Catholic buddy or two. Get that classic, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” and put it into practice. I’d divest of my volunteer time if it has challenged my patience threshold. Mother Teresa told her little nuns to stop serving if it is not out of purest love. It is not right for man to be alone and your Catholic community’s culture is brutal. Reminds me of the poor, scholarly missionary priest, Father John DeMarchi, who was commenting on how trying it was to serve in Kenya, where the people are very emotionally cold as having lots of pervasive British colonial influence, especially as contrasted with his cordial Italian peasant upbringing. Must have turned his blood cold every time somebody acted like a snotty Brit, but that’s their culture. May Father John DeMarchi, the great Fatima historian, intercede for you and all Catholics before God’s throne, and bring amity to Catholic parishes and communities.


#5

Thank you. I appreciate your input. The Craigslist idea sounds good; I hadn’t thought of that. Yes, it may be best to scale back on the volunterring I’ve been doing at this parish considering how the people have received me, and my reaction to it. Maybe I need to search and see if there’s another orthodoc parish in the area. (I’ve been told that there really aren’t, but who knows?) Your post made me feel a bit better. God bless you for it.


#6

Thank you. I’m not familiar with Opus Dei, but I’ll look around on their website and see what I can find. Thanks for the penpal offer. You can expect to receive a message from me in the near future. :slight_smile:


#7

I’m sorry you’re not finding it very easy either. I pray it improves fror you.

Yes, this young lady has been the friendliest to me so far. Maybe I can chat with her again and at least have a friendly face at Mass on Sundays. That would be an improvement. I’m not familiar with the Knights of Columbus, but I’ll get on Google and check them out. I’ve wanted to get involved in some type of charity/benevolent work, so maybe I can minister in that capacity and get to know some Catholic people that way as well. Thanks.


#8

I look forward to your letter dear friend.

God bless you:thumbsup::slight_smile:
John


#9

Hello! Welcome to CAF!!
I encountered the same problem at my parish. Very cliquish and difficult to form friendships. I prayed and prayed for a Catholic friend for about 3 yrs. So long that I finally stopped praying about it and just went on with things. Funny thing is, I was sitting in the pick up line for my son at our parish school, and I glanced to my right. As my eyes fell on the woman in the car next to me, I had a distinct sense that she was the friend I had prayed for so long before. I remember looking at the sky through my windshield and saying, “her?” And I honked the horn (scared the poor woman to death) rolled down my window and started waving like a madwoman shouting, “Hi, I’m Ana!!” (I guess I thought that she would know she was supposed to be my friend.) Well, she looked at me like I had two heads ( I guess she didn’t know) and carefully waved back, as if to a crazy person. "No matter, I thought to myself as I rolled up the window content that I had been shown my future friend, and I was at peace assuming it would develop in the future. So, I played it cool, and would wave to her after Mass here and there. About 6 months later she called me out of the blue, and the rest is history. My BFF now for almost five yrs. And I LOVE her, Thank you Jesus.

Don’t give up. Love Jesus and others through him and leave the rest to Him.

I alos wanted to second the Knoghts of Columbus. At my parish thay are very active, outgoing and friendly.

God bless you and GO BACK TO MASS. Better to be alone with Jesus, than alone without Him, right?


#10

MichaelMary,
Hi and welcome. This is a great place to come and find friends because of the faith we share. I have not been a member long but one thing I can tell you is that it is like a family…there are agreements and disagreements, but in the end we are family.

At mass, look around. Look at the faces of those in prayer and approach them. I have found long time friends in them. Also, if there is a Perpetual Adoration Chapel in your parish or near go…sign up for an hour. You will find a closeness there like no other. I can tell you honestly I have found friends there in the last 15 years I would never have had the opportunity. It is there I have found a relationship with my Father, so close, that I thank God for each day.

God bless…
Theresa


#11

MichaelMary,

Welcome to CAF.

I understand your feeling. I have been in my current parish since 1985. Not until I joined different groups in the parish, I had no church friends, none. I went through those long lonely years like an island. Years ago, when I first volunteered to teach CCD, I was hoping to know some other parishioners, but that was to no avail. Parents dropped and picked up their children, saying “hi” and “bye”. I still made no friends. But some years later when I volunteered to teach again, my teaching assistant became my good friend ever since.

However, to me, the most effective way of making friends in parish is to join SCC (small church community). Through this weekly Bible Study, I made some good friends. Try to explore different groups in your parish and start to attend. When you regularly belong to a group, it is much easier to fellowship and form friendship.

In my parish, there are many groups to choose, for example, SCC, Sunday night Bible study, apologetic class, Mom’s group, Knights of Columbus, Rosary group, Divine Mercy group, Eucharist Adoration group, ground crew, art group, RCIA support, and many many other volunteer opportunities. Check out your parish, find something you like, and go from there. Also put your need in prayer and God will help you.

God bless!


#12

I am so sorry you are feeling lonely. :frowning: That must be awful!!! Going back to your old church is not going to make you feel better though. Now that you KNOW Jesus in the Eucharist, nothing else will satisfy you. I speak as a convert as well. I know just what you mean about the friends you leave behind. It is so hard and Catholics - in general, are not so social. Not like at other churches in my opinion. But you’re right in saying that we aren’t there for the friends… we’re there for Jesus and even if our hearts are sad for our old friends, He knows the sacrifice we’re making for him. That’s how I see it.

I too was going to reccomend the Knights. They are very active at my parish and seem like a fun group of men. In the meantime, this forum is alot of fun and filled with wonderful Catholics. We’ll be your friend!!! Here’s a ((hug)).

God bless you! :slight_smile:


#13

MichelMary

Welcome to the forum.

I am a new convert too, and if you think you have it tough, at least you have alternative parishes. Where I am, I think there may be about a couple of dozen Catholics in the region. We have Mass about once a month except in the summer. (Last one was the beginning of June and the next will be in 3 weeks).

Perhaps my age, 62, and experience have made it easier to endure the fact that I have no Catholic friends, except for the ones that I see at Mass.

Finland is certainly a place where one is often a Catholic in a vacuum. (just over 10 000 out of 5.3 million) That is a choice I made, led by the Holy Spirit. It was a risk, and it was worth it.

Bless you.


#14

Yay! For our Catholics in Finland!!! We LOVE you!!! :thumbsup:


#15

Hello Michael,

What a lot of responses you’ve received so far!

The problem which you’re facing isn’t uncommon, as some of the other responses strongly hint at. I was confirmed during Easter 2007 and so have been a member of my parish for just about three years (counting the time I was going through RCIA). Given the number of people who attend Mass regularly week to week, I only *know of *less than 1% (perhaps) and *actually know *even fewer!

Like you, the first immediate months after confirmation were so full of excitement and promise that I couldn’t help but get really discouraged when I began to notice that I wasn’t making anymore friends. Plus, on top of that, even the people who I had completed RCIA with seemed to go in different directions, so I saw very little of them. The lack of social activities didn’t help either.

Unfortunately, due to this lack of community, people have fallen away. The Catholic faith is both a communal and private experience. When there is a lack of community, and when the faith becomes almost purely privatized, it becomes incredibly easy to slip between the cracks. I was one such person who fell away soon after confirmation for about nine months; however, when I returned, I was surprised to learn that the pastor actually noticed my absence – though, he noted my absence by my sudden appearance!

Now I am just trying to force myself to do things I wouldn’t otherwise do just to become more social. I volunteered to help out with RCIA in whatever capacity I was needed. One neophyte helped one of the nuns begin a “hospitality ministry” for RCIA, providing snacks and refreshments. I’ve also joined the Knights of Columbus. There’s a Family Life Commission, though I haven’t joined it yet since it seems to focus on married couples; however, there is this cute Cuban girl who I’ve been trying to talk to for months now! :smiley:

Anyway, I mostly wanted to tell you this just so that you know you’re not alone. Keep going to Mass, keep pulling people aside and chatting like you did with this young woman, keep checking the church bulletin for things to do (even if it’s things you’re not automatically interested in).

God bless!


#16

I take OP’s dilemma very much to heart, and it is an area of RCIA and evangelization that is seldom discussed. Although I was given responsibility for RCIA when I was hired as DRE (the former people all quit) a few years ago, our program for adults was very slow in getting of the ground. We baptized a couple of adults who entered the church along with their children, and we have 10-15 kids each year usually simply because their Catholic parents delayed baptism for whatever reason. This past Easter is the first year we had several adults for baptism, and surprise, surprise, they are continuing for mystagogy.

It is my personal opinion that the reason the “program” started slowly is that integral to the RCIA experience is involvement of the candidate in parish life, and in fact that is one of the main roles of the sponsor (as opposed to the godparent). Until recently, however, our parish didn’t really have a life. There was nothing to invite a newcomer to share, no dinners, picnics, stewardship, organizations. That was also the reason door-to-door evangelization never started, because the program was supposed to include an invitation to a parish event, and there was no place to go and nothing to do.

One of the areas of success I have noted in parishes that do “the Rites Right”, even when their teaching and catechesis leave something to be desired, they do a fantastic job of inviting and welcoming newcomers into parish life.

In the past couple of years the situation has changed, due to a combination of factors, one huge one is some very active, inspirational newcomers who seem to have a knack of motivating others. Where once a list of parish organizations and events took 2 inches in the bulletin, it now takes a closely typed 2-sided bulletin insert. And these stewardship type people make it a point to visit RCIA and confirmation sessions, sell tickets to events, sign up volunteers, recruit new members, and over-all communicate a sense of welcoming and involvement that was never here before.

Once that started to happen and the climate changed, RCIA candidates literally came out of the woodwork. We start new groups 4 times a year, had a summer session for the first time, and have had a Spanish class for the last two years. In September I will have 6 distinct groups–children, youth and adults, English and Spanish–at various stages of preparation, and LOVING it.

I did absolutely nothing to make it happen except to be ready when the Spirit moved.

All I can offer OP is that stewardship is the answer. That is the only thing in my experience that consistently works to involve new parishioners, whether they are newly Catholic, or new residents in the Parish. If your parish does not seem to have much, start something. We did that in our former parish and had the joy of seeing that effort (an Appalachian mission trip) continue under new leadership when we left. I honestly felt absolutely alone in that parish until we got Father’s permission to recruit for this effort, and from that, came more opportunities to serve, that is how I began as a catechist and in RCIA, and the rest is history.

You may find yourself in the position of evangelizing your own parish as a newbie, but I guarantee you will find your own conversion becoming more solid the more you become involved. If you have dig your own swimming pool so you can dive in, so much the better, and pull others in with you.

But I offer a warning to others who wish to help with evangelization and RCIA in their own parishes, if you do not have a strong ongoing stewardship program, involving more than sacrificial giving or tithing, but commitment to service, you will have to start it before you can truly evangelize.


#17

Thank you for your suggestions about the different groups to join. Unfortunately, my parish doesn’t have nay of those. We don’t even have the Knights of Columbus at my parish. I would have to look outside my parish in order to join groups like the ones you mentioned. There are no Bible study groups either. Maybe finding another parish would be the best option, though. I don’t know.


#18

You’ve read my mind. This parish has a total lack of community. That’s the problem. I’ve checked the parish bulletin, but there’s never anything to do. This parish has nothing to get involved in. I had no idea that the Catholic faith was like this. I come from a Protestant background where the church has ample opportunities for fellowship and spiritual growth via things like weekly Bible studies. Honestly, I probably wouldn’t have converted if I had known it would be like this.


#19

I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who replied. You all have given me some things to think about. It’s late here now, and I’m going to think on these things and come back tomorrow with my thoughts and questions if I think of any. :slight_smile:


#20

Michael Mary, I feel for you cause I have felt the same way.
I hope you don’t think this is silly, but I keep connected to two parishes, one more orthodox that I prefer, but nobody talks, and another local church where there is more friendliness, more activities.

I also thought that maybe you could be the person who could start a welcome group for newcomers? Good luck. :slight_smile:


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