Returning Catholics programs

I apologize if this is the wrong place to put this thread.

I know so many people who are ex-Catholics. Does your parish/diocese have programs to reach out to them, to encourage them to “come home”?

A parish near me had a program last year, a 6 week program where alienated Catholics could come and air concerns and grievances and be assured that people would listen. There were programs in place if these people wanted to return to the church.

When I came back in 2011, after 17 years away, I emailed a local parish. A deacon got back to me and offered to meet me with his wife. We met for a long time. I did most of the talking and they listened. At the end I made a confession to a priest and I was back.

There’s an apostolate set up for just this purpose: CatholicsComeHome.org. They partner with dioceses. I know there are a handful of other programs out there that aim to do this as well.

I think it’s a great idea. More parishes should do it. The tricky part, though, is the follow up. It doesn’t do much good to invite people back without a clear game plan of what you are inviting them back to. Otherwise, you find yourself inviting people to come air their grievances, and then just go back to what they were doing before.

I love Catholics Come Home. I have visited their web site and it is great. They also sponsor TV commercials.

I agree with you about the follow up too. I didn’t attend those programs so I don’t know if there was any.

Some people stay stuck in their anger at the Church and don’t want to move past it. Others are happy in their current churches. I know people in both camps. But there are people, like I was, who wanted to come back. There should be programs to help them do that.

We tried doing a program in my parish and didn’t get much of a response. We ended up going with a more individualized approach, meeting with people one-on-one. (More specifically, since this is an area of interest for me, I meet with people one-on-one.) Both ways have their strengths and weaknesses.

As far as airing grievances, I think that’s important. You have to ask people why they left the Church and give them a chance to talk about the mean priest or the rude secretary or their remarriage or their gay brother or whatever problems they’ve run into. But typically that’s what happens the first week, then you move on and focus on their desire to come back and support that.

I’d like to see every parish have resources in place for returning Catholics. We all know “former” Catholics and should have ideas and support for helping them return.

Lisa,

You can check out Landings. We take a team approach, where former inactive Catholics welcome back returning Catholics. The series last for eight weeks and includes storytelling and a review of basic Catholic teachings.

Most folks we get back these days are not angry but just stopped going along the way and wish to get back into it…

Most parishes average 3-5 returnees a session but success does depend on advertising and size and make up of the parish…

If you would like to see Landings at your parish…check out our website at landingsintl.organd then call me and I can get you started…

As a returning Catholic myself, I felt the call to help those on their way back. For the last decade, Landings has given me the opportunity…and it has been a tremendous blessing to me and my parish…Blessings to you…

Thanks for the responses. I’m glad folks are reaching out to inactive Catholics.

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