Unwelcome


#1

Hi,

I am in the middle of a conundrum. I am not sure what I should do.

I am/was a member of a parish that is about 45 km from the the town I live in, in northern Canada. Actually, it isn't really a parish, it is really a missionary church.

My fellow parishioners refer to us as outsiders, basically because we aren't from the local area. From that term, I guess you can see where I am going with this.

For all intents and purposes we have a small parish, anywhere from 10 to 45 showing up on Sundays with the average being around 20.

Both my wife and I were quite active in the parish since we found the church in this area in 2005. I was a liturgical minister (reader), on the parish council, the diocese deanery, Knights of Columbus. Like all organizations, we had our share of disagreements and agreements.

During the winter of 2010, I became quite sick and was unable to go out between December and February. When I returned to church for the first time. Several members came up to me after mass and asked why I had decided to return to church and not stay away. Until this time didn't realize that there was any kind of problem, however, I was given to understand that since we weren't one of "them", (remember we were always considered "outsiders"), they were hoping that we wouldn't return.

I spoke with our parish priest about this matter and he told me that it wasn't right and that was it. I attended mass for a few more weeks, but the resentment had come to the surface and actually became palatable. I resigned from the activities that I was involved in. We had only two other people in the parish that were our friends. So we stopped attending this church and starting attending another church in a distant town (130km). Because we are in an isolated community and are greatly affected by weather and local conditions, we cannot always make it to mass at the new location. I discussed with the priest there and he told us that we should make it when we can and God will forgive us for those times that we couldn't.

Our problem, especially during winter, is that we are unable to make it to church more that we actually are able to attend. While, Father has said it was ok, I am starting to feel really guilty about missing mass on these occasions and I really don't want to go back to our old church because I don't want to go somewhere where we are wanted.

I really don't know what my question it, but I would appreciate any comments that might help.

Thank you and God bless.


#2

I'm sorry you are being treated that way. Are you sure you haven't done anything to offend the other members? Did they really tell you they want you to stay away? You say there were disagreements at some of your meetings...without knowing what these disagreements were it's hard to give advice. I've got to be honest...welcome or not I would not miss Mass for any reason except illness. Try to work things out with the other parishioners if you can, make apologies if you need to, and just go to worship your Lord and Savior. The way we forgive other's trespasses will be the way God forgives ours. Even if your priest tells you it's okay to miss Mass, my Pastor recently said to a group of parishioners, "When you stand before God and He asks you why you did something that went against your conscience, do you really think saying, 'Well, Father So and So told me I could do it.' is going to get you off the hook? No--you're going to be held accountable and so am I for telling you to do that thing." Obviously it's bothering your conscience or you wouldn't be posting about it here. I would follow your conscience, swallow your pride, and humbly offer up your suffering to God. God bless.


#3

[quote="Lost_One, post:1, topic:287460"]
Hi,

I am in the middle of a conundrum. I am not sure what I should do.

I am/was a member of a parish that is about 45 km from the the town I live in, in northern Canada. Actually, it isn't really a parish, it is really a missionary church.

My fellow parishioners refer to us as outsiders, basically because we aren't from the local area. From that term, I guess you can see where I am going with this.

For all intents and purposes we have a small parish, anywhere from 10 to 45 showing up on Sundays with the average being around 20.

Both my wife and I were quite active in the parish since we found the church in this area in 2005. I was a liturgical minister (reader), on the parish council, the diocese deanery, Knights of Columbus. Like all organizations, we had our share of disagreements and agreements.

During the winter of 2010, I became quite sick and was unable to go out between December and February. When I returned to church for the first time. Several members came up to me after mass and asked why I had decided to return to church and not stay away. Until this time didn't realize that there was any kind of problem, however, I was given to understand that since we weren't one of "them", (remember we were always considered "outsiders"), they were hoping that we wouldn't return.

I spoke with our parish priest about this matter and he told me that it wasn't right and that was it. I attended mass for a few more weeks, but the resentment had come to the surface and actually became palatable. I resigned from the activities that I was involved in. We had only two other people in the parish that were our friends. So we stopped attending this church and starting attending another church in a distant town (130km). Because we are in an isolated community and are greatly affected by weather and local conditions, we cannot always make it to mass at the new location. I discussed with the priest there and he told us that we should make it when we can and God will forgive us for those times that we couldn't.

Our problem, especially during winter, is that we are unable to make it to church more that we actually are able to attend. While, Father has said it was ok, I am starting to feel really guilty about missing mass on these occasions and I really don't want to go back to our old church because I don't want to go somewhere where we are wanted.

I really don't know what my question it, but I would appreciate any comments that might help.

Thank you and God bless.

[/quote]

A Catholic church is a public building. Anyone can walk into a Catholic Church and attend mass. Anyone. It's always been that way across the world. A clique or a neighborhood can't own a Catholic church. It's not a private club.

And actually, if you do some investigating, you'll find that these people may think they own the property. They do not, canonically. The diocese does once it's been consecrated as a Church. Occasionally we have these big hassles here in the states when a bishop decides to merge parishes and so on, and the people find out with a shock they they don't own the property canonically and have to appeal thru canon law if they want to fight the merger. The church is not a private possession like a car or a person's house. They may be able to act badly but they can't prevent you or anyone else from attending mass there.


#4

Ooooooh! Hearing about stuff like this makes my blood boil, even if I don't know the whole story! Missing Mass on Sunday without sufficient reason is a sin. Bad politics in a parish in my opinion, anyways, isn't "sufficient reason." Are you prepared to let these yahoos who don't like you for whatever reason put you in the position of sinning and risking your immortal soul? And whatever happened to "see these Christians, how they love one another?"

I wouldn't give them the opportunity, or the satisfaction, of thinking they ran me out of there for whatever reason, but I guess our personalities are a little different. Matter of fact, once my spiritual director wryly commented that with me around, the Church Militant got a little more militant--LOL!

Here's what I'd do: Sure, I'd join the friendlier parish. But if the weather got bad (I know what you mean, I live in the great frozen North too,) I'd go to the unfriendly parish. After all, you're there to worship God, not 'them!" Then, after Mass, I'd go right up to the nastiest one of the bunch, smile at them, shake their hand, and say, "Good to see you!" if for no other reason than to prove I have better manners than them!

Drives 'em up a wall! Serves them right!


#5

[quote="Lost_One, post:1, topic:287460"]
Hi,

I am in the middle of a conundrum. I am not sure what I should do.

I am/was a member of a parish that is about 45 km from the the town I live in, in northern Canada. Actually, it isn't really a parish, it is really a missionary church.

My fellow parishioners refer to us as outsiders, basically because we aren't from the local area. From that term, I guess you can see where I am going with this.

For all intents and purposes we have a small parish, anywhere from 10 to 45 showing up on Sundays with the average being around 20.

Both my wife and I were quite active in the parish since we found the church in this area in 2005. I was a liturgical minister (reader), on the parish council, the diocese deanery, Knights of Columbus. Like all organizations, we had our share of disagreements and agreements.

During the winter of 2010, I became quite sick and was unable to go out between December and February. When I returned to church for the first time. Several members came up to me after mass and asked why I had decided to return to church and not stay away. Until this time didn't realize that there was any kind of problem, however, I was given to understand that since we weren't one of "them", (remember we were always considered "outsiders"), they were hoping that we wouldn't return.

I spoke with our parish priest about this matter and he told me that it wasn't right and that was it. I attended mass for a few more weeks, but the resentment had come to the surface and actually became palatable. I resigned from the activities that I was involved in. We had only two other people in the parish that were our friends. So we stopped attending this church and starting attending another church in a distant town (130km). Because we are in an isolated community and are greatly affected by weather and local conditions, we cannot always make it to mass at the new location. I discussed with the priest there and he told us that we should make it when we can and God will forgive us for those times that we couldn't.

Our problem, especially during winter, is that we are unable to make it to church more that we actually are able to attend. While, Father has said it was ok, I am starting to feel really guilty about missing mass on these occasions and I really don't want to go back to our old church because I don't want to go somewhere where we are wanted.

I really don't know what my question it, but I would appreciate any comments that might help.

Thank you and God bless.

[/quote]

Go be with our Lord and get past what these other "Catholics" think.


#6

I don't get it. How can you be an outsider if that's the only parish within 45 Km? It's there to serve all Catholics in the area, not just those who live within that community. At a time when it's so difficult to get people to volunteer you'd think they would have been thrilled to have someone so involved.

My own parish sees people from a neighbouring community who attend Mass regularly because the nearest parish to them is a native one where Mass is celebrated in an aboriginal language which they don't speak. If those people decided to volunteer to be on parish council or read or whatever, we'd be thrilled to have them as it would mean they care enough to commit themselves to travel back and forth for meetings and such.

It boggles the mind that someone could actually be rude enough to ask you why you came back in such as way as to drive you away. So much for "Love your neighbour as yourself."

I would not let them drive me away and stop me from going to Mass on any Sunday that I was capable, particularly if I was capable of going there but not the other Mass farther away.


#7

Keep talking to the priest and I hope you do feel more settled in the new church though admittedly we have people who drive through numerous parishes to get to ours and yet they can go anywhere. But what does it matter about parish boundaries. that is a thing of the past isn't it? However it happend to you and you can move on and learn hopefully to feel welcome in the new parish I hope.

Just keep talking to the priest and if he is fine about you missing sundays and other services because of weather then you will have to learn to relax. It not all about Sundays you know, but what the church has to offer as a whole. When there is a Sunday you cannot make it, you might be able to make another service somewhere nearby. It depends what is important here..:blush: oops have I dug a little deeper there? I am lucky and go to a church that is in walking distance to my home and in my village and wont go anywhere else. You make it your 'home' as such and yeh there are ups and downs likes and dislikes but that same anywhere and that is a part of being with the family, a part of being with the community. Isn't there a church at all in your village. Nothing or nearer. I don't live in outbacks so have no concept of travelling to church as you have commented and am lucky we have church in every town in UK and yeh we struggling as a community but we are there.


#8

Serious question, although I know it's going to come off a snarky -- what are you going to do if a few people at this new parish are rude? Abandon Mass attendance entirely? Because really, unless there are things you didn't tell us in the original post, that's the only reason you left the first parish.


#9

People should be made to feel welcome not unwelcome when coming to Mass. I've learned to stop worrying about what others may say about me or to me at Mass. Unless I was doing something really bad like being an unrepentant public sinner then going up for Communion, no one should say anything to you. There are certain things that lay people should not be doing but if its a repeated behavior, its best to speak to the priest privately and allow him to address it from the pulpit & in the church bulletin. No one should keep you from your Sunday duty no matter if they like you (or your actions) or not.


#10

[quote="iloveangels, post:3, topic:287460"]
A Catholic church is a public building. Anyone can walk into a Catholic Church and attend mass. Anyone. It's always been that way across the world. A clique or a neighborhood can't own a Catholic church. It's not a private club.

And actually, if you do some investigating, you'll find that these people may think they own the property. They do not, canonically. The diocese does once it's been consecrated as a Church. Occasionally we have these big hassles here in the states when a bishop decides to merge parishes and so on, and the people find out with a shock they they don't own the property canonically and have to appeal thru canon law if they want to fight the merger. The church is not a private possession like a car or a person's house. They may be able to act badly but they can't prevent you or anyone else from attending mass there.

[/quote]

Most parish churches are not "consecrated." Cathedrals are, parishes churches, not always.

It's not unusual for the initial gift of land to the Church come with the requirement that it be used for Catholic Church uses and not be sold or rented. That's precisely when a lot of fighting takes place.


#11

Dont let them bother you. "outsiders" would make me cringe too. But sometimes people say things that really sound more hurtful and ignorant than they are. The example that drives me crazy is "cradle catholic" , like being born into a catholic family makes a person more righteous. But, I laugh it off by pointing out I joined the faith by my desire and not by circumstances.


#12

[quote="Lost_One, post:1, topic:287460"]
Hi,

I am in the middle of a conundrum. I am not sure what I should do.

I am/was a member of a parish that is about 45 km from the the town I live in, in northern Canada. Actually, it isn't really a parish, it is really a missionary church.

My fellow parishioners refer to us as outsiders, basically because we aren't from the local area. From that term, I guess you can see where I am going with this.

For all intents and purposes we have a small parish, anywhere from 10 to 45 showing up on Sundays with the average being around 20.

Both my wife and I were quite active in the parish since we found the church in this area in 2005. I was a liturgical minister (reader), on the parish council, the diocese deanery, Knights of Columbus. Like all organizations, we had our share of disagreements and agreements.

During the winter of 2010, I became quite sick and was unable to go out between December and February. When I returned to church for the first time. Several members came up to me after mass and asked why I had decided to return to church and not stay away. Until this time didn't realize that there was any kind of problem, however, I was given to understand that since we weren't one of "them", (remember we were always considered "outsiders"), they were hoping that we wouldn't return.

I spoke with our parish priest about this matter and he told me that it wasn't right and that was it. I attended mass for a few more weeks, but the resentment had come to the surface and actually became palatable. I resigned from the activities that I was involved in. We had only two other people in the parish that were our friends. So we stopped attending this church and starting attending another church in a distant town (130km). Because we are in an isolated community and are greatly affected by weather and local conditions, we cannot always make it to mass at the new location. I discussed with the priest there and he told us that we should make it when we can and God will forgive us for those times that we couldn't.

Our problem, especially during winter, is that we are unable to make it to church more that we actually are able to attend. While, Father has said it was ok, I am starting to feel really guilty about missing mass on these occasions and I really don't want to go back to our old church because I don't want to go somewhere where we are wanted.

I really don't know what my question it, but I would appreciate any comments that might help.

Thank you and God bless.

[/quote]

God wants you to come to Mass as often as you are able...
Christ's welcomes you at the nearer Church even if certain others do not.

Who are you going to see? Christ in the Eucharist or "Joe the Judger".

My advice is to go to the more welcoming Church as much as possible.
Go to the less welcoming Church as necessary.
Worship at home when required.
Praise God at all times.

Peace
James


#13

[quote="Phemie, post:6, topic:287460"]

I would not let them drive me away and stop me from going to Mass on any Sunday that I was capable, particularly if I was capable of going there but not the other Mass farther away.

[/quote]

Exactly so what, it's their problem not the OP's.

Lost One have you tried to find out what these people's issue with you is?
Nothing can be fixed if nothing is looked at. And if it is just that you are an import to the area, that's their problem not yours. But in my experience i never had acceptence issues when visiting up north.


#14

I attend a wonderful, friendly parish about a mile and half from my residence.:D But, I have come across people there who have implied that us newcomers should just go away. It is a large enough parish that we newcomers can ignore them. If about 25% of the parish doesn't like you then another parish is the answer I would think. And of course living up in the northern wastelands:snowing: is going to make it harder to get to Mass.

Sometimes parishes are not as welcoming as they should be and we should be expected to spend hours wondering what we did to offend somebody. :twocents:


#15

new thought

Go to where you been outrightly challenged and join in as though couldn't care less about their attitude. Is it everyone in the church or only some? If it only some let them have their tittle tattle because thats all what it is and they are leaving someone else alone. Show them the message that Jesus has taught us to preach. Go to the friendlier church some times may be to 'recover' but on the whole stick with where you been made to feel unwelcome and not let them see how much its affected you but teach them the true message of Jesus Christ by your actions and words. In time they will be tittle tattling about another. Each church community has its tittle tattles believe you me and the secret is, is not to listen to it. You've unfortunately been in hearing line of it. Don't let that get to you totally. Everyone gossips at some point and don't mean anything if they saw the actual hurt. Some mean to hurt. Some believe in what they say and don't see it as tittle tattle. I urge you to be strong and stand up against the few and just show them by your actions and words the real message of Jesus Christ. In one sermon our priest told us very plainly 'your actions will find you out' he's deliberately provocative so he's told me a few times and Ive heard. But Their actions will be finding them out but if you 'run' totally away they will just turn and snigger at others instead. They will in time anyway. Be there and be strong and fight valiantly under the banner of Christ is the saying isn't it. You can do it with God. Don't let the tittle-tattlers win :blush:


#16

[edited] IMHO, if they're going to make all this noise about love, love, love and then act like that they're lying, pure and simple.

Love is not some fuzzy emotion you feel in your butt or someplace. Love is making the Christian choice when you meet a difficulty. And this includes acting with some Christian maturity and graciousness when someone new shows up at the parish, even if you don't particularly like them.


#17

:thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:

[quote="iloveangels, post:16, topic:287460"]
[edited] IMHO, if they're going to make all this noise about love, love, love and then act like that they're lying, pure and simple.

Love is not some fuzzy emotion you feel in your butt or someplace. Love is making the Christian choice when you meet a difficulty. And this includes acting with some Christian maturity and graciousness when someone new shows up at the parish, even if you don't particularly like them.

[/quote]

:thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:


#18

[quote="Lost_One, post:1, topic:287460"]

During the winter of 2010, I became quite sick and was unable to go out between December and February. When I returned to church for the first time. Several members came up to me after mass and asked why I had decided to return to church and not stay away. Until this time didn't realize that there was any kind of problem, however, I was given to understand that since we weren't one of "them", (remember we were always considered "outsiders"), they were hoping that we wouldn't return.

I spoke with our parish priest about this matter and he told me that it wasn't right and that was it. I attended mass for a few more weeks, but the resentment had come to the surface and actually became palatable. I resigned from the activities that I was involved in. We had only two other people in the parish that were our friends. So we stopped attending this church and starting attending another church in a distant town (130km).

[/quote]

First of all, welcome to CAF!

You claimed that you were "given to understand" that "they were hoping we wouldn't return." Did they tell you that, or was that just your impression? And if they expressly told you that, then are they the ones you go to see on Sunday? No one likes feeling unwelcomed, but you could use the occasion as a opportunity in forgiveness and turning the other cheek; following the Gospel becomes contagious and they might catch it, too.


#19

Actually, the quote was "Why did you come back" and "Outsiders have new ideas and we don't like change".

Whenever, I do attend now, I come out of church more agitated than when I went in.

As for the feeling that they own the church, that is the exact idea. One of the families donated the land and built the church, while another family dominates the parish council. It is supposed to be a Native mission, however, these folks told many of them that they were heathens and that they weren't good enough. I am a fairly tough skinned individual (25+ years in the army), but I am no longer able to tolerate this intolerance. We have only one mass per week because the priest was told that this was all the people would tolerate and so, now, he does his daily mass alone in the rectory.

It is hard to describe out location because it is truly isolated, just south of the Arctic Circle. The two other towns I mentioned are it. The next major centre (i.e. one with a Wal-Mart) is 360km away.

I do thank all of you for your comments and concerns.


#20

It sounds like a tough situation all the way around. Something that requires a lot of prayer and - well - some more prayer. My guess is the priest is in something of a tough spot as well. He doesn't like the situation any more than you do but is basically powerless to do anything about it.

I'm sorry that attending mass there makes you feel more agitated when leaving than when you go in.

Noting your mention of 25 years in the military...I can see your frustration but also perhaps an opportunity.

Perhaps this could be considered from a "military" perspective.

You serve a King. That King is in the Church. Said Church is being occupied by hostile powers. One that does not serve the King and attempts to deny access to the King to those who DO wish to serve Him.

These hostile powers use some very powerful weapons and tactics the cutting remark, the put down, the snub - all designed to encircle and isolate those they see as a threat.

You wish to destroy this hostile power or at least diminish it's ability to block access to your King. One way to do that is to leave them isolated in their lonely outpost and gain access to the King in another location. Of course that other location is less accessible, and your King has summoned you to His physical presence as often as you are physically able. This summons means that, at least on occasion, you must run the gauntlet of these "enemies at the gates"...

The trick here - in in rough military terms - is to recognize and evaluate the enemy and his weapons, then devise defenses and strategies against them.

In spiritual terms of course it is not the people who are the enemy so much as the sins that have such a hold on them. Primary among these sins is pride - coupled with greed. They wish to "possess" the church and hold the King captive to themselves alone. They wish to "lord it over" others, selecting which ones will be considered worthy and welcome...Like the Pharisees of whom Jesus said:
But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you shut the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither enter yourselves, nor allow those who would enter to go in. (Mt 23:13)
However - Pride and Greed and the other evils do not recognize how weak they truly are when confronted by Love, forbearance, a smile, a kind word, a smile....and the patient turning of the cheek. Such defenses, properly employed, are both armor and sword. They prevent the enemy from hurting you. Their barbs are simply absorbed by Godly Love and cannot touch your soul or inner peace.

Meanwhile their inability to defeat or even unsettle you becomes a frustration that becomes a toxin to them - to these sins. Oh they will fight all the harder for a time...but ultimately they cannot hold out against Agape Love.

So - should you go back to this church and someone say, "Why have you come back?", you respond simply, "My King summoned me here".

"But you are not welcome here" comes the retort...
"My King welcomes me and I obey my King." is your calm reply.
"Outsiders have new ideas and we don't like change".
"Be at peace, I have no idea but to serve and obey my King."
Then smile and take your leave with a simple "God Bless you" and "See you next week".

Of course the above is just a very rough idea based on what you have shared. But perhaps there is something worthwhile in it - something to consider and prayerfully consider.

I hope it is of some help anyway...

God Bless

Peace
James


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