What do you say to people you know who have stopped attending the Mass?

What do you say to people you know who have stopped attending the Mass? I live in a small city and I regularly run into people I have met or I actually know from my parish who no longer attend Mass there.

If we begin a conversation I’ll nicely and quietly ask if they changed Masses or parishes? Most of the time they have either changed the Mass or parish they attend and that’s that. If they’ve moved on to another parish I will ask them what they think of it, etc.

If they have stopped attending Mass I will patiently listen to their story (if it’s forthcoming) and ask if there is anything in addition to prayer that I can do for them? Otherwise “those souls who have stopped attending the Mass” remain on my prayer list and I have a Mass celebrated once a year on St. Jude the Apostle’s Feast Day (October 28) for their collective intentions.

What do you do if anything under these situations?

I say “hi,” how are you," “nice to see you,” and all the other things I said when they were still going to Mass. :yup:

Do you ever ask why you no longer see them at Mass? It’s been my own experience that it’s often a good opportunity to minister to a fellow Christian.

I like the way you handle it.

I would ask why, and politely listen.

Say hi, chat amiably, and privately pray for them. And mind my own business.

Family members, I ask why. Non-family members I note I miss seeing them (at Church).

That sounds prudent…

No, I follow the “OraLabora Method” described in post #5

This is how I handle things as well. When you state you have missed seeing them at Church it opens the door to them telling you they now attend Mass at a different parish and usually volunteer why.

I had one person state they had quit going to Mass because they had gotten remarried and did not want to pursue an annulment and said going to Mass without being able to receive Holy Communion would break her heart and in her opinion that was the main reason she had left She stated she was attending a non Catholic Church.


As a family who was questioned by other parishoners…I can tell u it’s very inappropriate to do this unless u know the person well.

We used to break attendance at mass with mass at school parish our child attended about once a month or so, for special things.

Once or twice dh went to the regular parish without us and was,asked if everything was ok with the wife (me), and if we are having problems to let them know.:eek: even after we told them…which we didn’t have to anyway.

Peoples motivation to attend mass is not to show others they are there…we go for Jesus. So we found a better parish where it’s more calm and reverent.

Please don’t mind your own business. Not that you have to proselytize or lecture them, but I know so many people who have said “I left the Church and no one even noticed or said anything to me.” I think the way Solomonson has been handling it is the best way to minister to people who have stopped attending. He is letting them know he is listening, that he cares, he can gently correct or supply the Church’s actual teaching if there is an opportunity to do so, and he is fulfilling our Gospel duty to help save souls, even (or especially) if he does nothing but pray for them. Minding our own business in this case could mean ignoring Jesus’ dearest wish- that all may come to love Him and follow Him.

Yeah what was St. Paul thinking in writing those letters.

Just pray for yhem.

Unless you know the person really really well and have a solid relationship with them, best is to just offer your friendship and be there for them and listen. If they need to talk about it, they will.

Of course if you are their pastor or their parent or spouse, it is a different matter.


I’d definitely have to work in a version of “why haven’t you been getting to Mass” somewhere in the conversation. Missing Mass on Sundays approaches the realm of mortal sin and I don’t want any of my brothers and sisters getting close to that. Too, I’m in danger of falling into sin myself if I see one of my brothers & sisters getting into danger and I don’t try to help them.

I’d offer to take them to Mass if they needed a ride and suggest lunch, brunch or breakfast afterwards.

My two cents.

The OP said:

What do you say to people you know who have stopped attending the Mass? I live in a small city and I regularly run into people I have met or I actually know from my parish who no longer attend Mass there.

“No longer attend Mass there” might mean “attends Mass elsewhere” for a myriad of reasons ; for example has an elderly sick parent in another town, visits every Sunday and takes that parent to Mass. Or has a regular activity that makes it more convenient to attend mass elsewhere. Or maybe got tired of nosy parishioners and prefers a parish where one is more anonymous :shrug::

I myself almost never attend Mass in my parish. For a bunch of personal reasons, and because I’m an oblate there, I prefer to attend Mass at the local Benedictine monastery.

Minding one’s business does not mean not showing any concern for them. On the contrary. If the person is really not going to Mass because of a spiritual crisis, then the best thing would simply to say “let’s do coffee together!” And then just chat. The real reason may come out, then you can engage. Or it may not. Either way pray for them and tell them that you are praying and thinking of them.

And if they do choose to engage, the best thing is to just listen actively and with empathy, and assure them of your prayers. The latter shows you’re still engaged with the faith and is a subtle way of keeping them connected as well. Sometimes we can become so overwhelmed by events or a personal crisis that we neglect our spiritual life. Stuff happens and if the person is in such a crisis, your own prayers for them will take over from theirs will carry them through until the storm clouds clear.

There are so many gentle ways to evangelize. We must remember too that if the person is having a crisis of some kind, the sin of missing Mass is likely not mortal. For instance some people have been directly and personally affected by the abuse scandals. I saw such a person have a complete breakdown in a spiritual workshop I was leading. It was frightening.

If one meddles too much, one can trigger such a crisis. Few of us are trained to deal with it. I was fortunate that my wife, a physician, was in my group and was able to assist.

We need to stick to our pay grade, if we have no pastoral authority over the person either as pastor or parent.

I would invite them to things like parish missions, special talks or social occasions. Our parish picnic is coming up and I intend to invite my friend Cheri who hasn’t been to Mass in years. It’s a start.

I don’t say anything. They are making their own choice. Casting pearls and what not.

From the bulk of this poster’s posting history, he fancies himself the moral authority of this locale.
Unless he is the priest or the Spiritual Director of said persons, he should NOT ask them. You can say “I miss seeing you!” Which is true. But more people leave the Church because they perceive they are being judged 24-7. Their issues are theirs to work out. The Holy Spirit can handle this. If I thought for a moment that there was some way that the OP could gently ask, and help along the path, I’d say go for it. But I have read enough of his threads to know his tone when met with push back.
He has pretty much derided the priest, and anyone who disagrees with him.
An ambassador of the Church (if you will) must be humble, foremost. A willing ear, a thoughtful spirit, a merciful countenance. Not a lecture, which is likely what the people would get. I say this from posting history.
No bueno.
Some people should stay in their lane, If a person really cared, they could let the church office know that so-and-so is still in town, maybe one of the Deacons could pay a call on the family. At that point, it would be clear 1) if the Pastor desired that people approach others and 2) if the family has indeed withdrawn from the parish and is worshiping elsewhere. But even then…it leans into “noneofyourbeeswax”.

I don’t think there’s anything terribly wrong with either the Solomonson method (given that it’s a small town and people probably are used to other residents kind of “keeping tabs” on them or being “in their business”) or the OraLabora method (more appropriate for any sort of larger city).

Having said that, this is one of those threads that makes me glad that due to my work taking me hither and yon and my personal preference to check out a lot of different Catholic churches rather than be a “regular” at a particular parish or particular Mass, I do not have people noticing whether I am showing up or not. If anyone other than an immediate family member ever asked me, “Why haven’t you been at Mass?” I’d probably respond, “Who died and made you FBI director? Mind your own business.”

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