Hi all- I’m new here and DH and I have been struggling for quite a while about feeling ‘at home’ at our parish. We’ve been married 7 years now and have been members of 5-count em-5 parishes within our city. At each one, we seem to see the same thing. There doesn’t seem to be a lot offered by way of fellowship and social building. I understand the church isn’t really responsible for keeping our social life, but we would love to have more things offered to help us meet others AND feel as though the parish is truly our home. We’ve tried bible study, but it’s the same 5 women each week. We don’t really have an idea of what to do next. My hubby grew up protestant, and ironically, there’s a great little Lutheran church right behind us that has some really awesome things happening there, plus a school for our daughter that happens to be $3000 less per year than the local Catholic schools. I’ve been tempted to check it out. What does your parish do for social building?
Our parish has too many things going on. But, the way I connected was through three avenues. I helped start a Familia program. I stated attending an informal rosary group–it met with children in attendance. And, I taught a year of CCD. My husband hasn’t been too interested in making connections within the parish. But, we did go through two sessions of a small Christian community that did six week Bible studies together.
I also did CRHP, but while the experience was very good, none of my team members stayed in contact with me.
I think the best way is to pick a ministry that appeals to you and begin working in the ministry. Fellowship in the Church seems to revolve around ministry. There’s also Knights of Columbus which seems to have a really tight community. Perhaps you should call the parish secretary and ask for advice. I’ve found that the parish secretary are the most connected members of the staff.
We belong to a home based Catholic community through Presentation Ministries. We meet 2X a month with several other families for prayer and support. We have common goals in our community life: for example, we are all pray a family rosary once a week and go to confession once a month. We try to celebrate our lives together–this past weekend we had a party for one of our families whose son graduated undergraduate seminary.
One of the ways I try to minister to other families is to offer to babysit so the mom can get out or the couple can get out.
Why are you switching parishes so often?
There’s a couple’s study out on the book The Splendor of Love.
Get some couples together and do the study. See what happens after that.
If that doesn’t work, create something yourselves. Tell your pastor what you want to do and see if he can recommend some couples to contact. —KCT
Try joining a parish organization. That is a better option than giving up Jesus.
Wow - you must live in a big place with 5 Parishes! We live in a small town, only 2 Parishes. Our Parish has something going every day of the week. One person could never be involved in everything!
Volunteer - that is the BEST way to meet people in the Parish. I promise you, the youth or CCD needs volunteers at your Parish
For your husband, if he joins the Knights they involve the entire family in events.
Last, my advice, I’d send my child to public school or homeschool before to a non-Catholic church’s school. That is another thread, but, don’t let your child be confused about the Faith by putting them in an anti-Catholic place.
Agree with Kage
Our parish has a very active sports youth program - and girls can play on those teams. You meet many parents your age with similar situations and kids and voila - next thing you know you are in charge of drinks, snacks, scorekeeping, and your husband is the batting and first base coach. Keep your eye on the parish bulletin to see when tryouts are. Or better yet - if you don’t have one - start one.
Our parish has both a Knights of Columbus and a Men’s club. Both very active social clubs that do good works for the parish and sponsor many events for the other ministries of the church. Catholic Daughters is also very active for the wives and offers many social activites to meet other moms like yourself.
If your parish has a website and has a list of ministries available - check those out to volunteer for - music, altar servers, lector, sports, groundskeeping, Ladies altar society, etc. All of these leads to meeting folks and great social activities within the church family. Good luck and God Bless - let us know how it goes.
Wow, I can really, really relate to you. My parish hardly has anything I can do. The average age of my parish is quite high and the Seniors social scene is pretty hopping. But, I’m a 38 year-old, married mother. They started a toddler group, but I go and it is just the same 4 moms who know eachother already from a preschool and I tried and tried to break into their clique, but had no luck. I keep thinking that if I’m so dissatisfied with the social aspect, then I should stop complaining and start organizing things myself. But, I’m very shy and I’m not very organized so I think it would just be a disaster. Oh, yeah. I’ve expressed interest MULTIPLE times in helping with RCIA or doing ushering, but nobody ever gets back to me. So, I think “Does God not want me to do this if there are nothing but roadblocks???” However one figures out the will of God is topic for another thread, but I feel like this… :banghead:
Meanwhile the evangelical Christian church in the area is just full of support groups for Moms, babysitting, charitable projects, field trips, etc… I’ve never gone to the other church, but I’ve looked at their website and they at least make it look like a large, active, social community.
This is a serious problem folks!!!
I am one of those people who typically ‘fall through the cracks’ at Catholic Parishes. I am a widow, only 51, commute to work and have no children of my own. Add to that the fact that I am a recovering alcoholic and you would think I would be lonely and without anything to do.
Our parish has so many activities it is difficult to keep up with them. Still, I could easily talk myself out of going to a lot of things because I am single and people don’t talk much and I don’t know anyone and they all are in cliques and blah blah blah.
One of the things I learned through my 12 step group was how to stick out my hand and introduce myself to people. I was told I had to greet others, ‘to work the room’ was the expression my 12 step sponsor used, and I used to hate it. I am shy. I know you don’t like me when you first meet me. I know I don’t fit in. I am scared. Whine whine whine.
SO…I put what I had been taught to do to work at my parish. I went to things where I knew no one despite the fact that I was so frightened sometimes I felt sick to my stomach. I tried to think how I could offer up the feelings and then I plunged in…and one of the things I did was volunteer DURING THE OCCASSION for the worst jobs…emptying the garbage, cleaning the dishes, etc. I discovered a group of friends that are the hard “behind the scenes” workers.
I cannot believe that, in FIVE parishes, you could not find one that did not have programs on the weekends - movies, talks, retreats, devotional services…I also would not leave Jesus in The Eucharist for a pot luck.
Our parish recently had a sock hop for all ages. It was good fun and people of all ages attended. Maybe you and your husband can organize something like this and invite members from other parishes to also attend (if you can’t sell enough tickets at your paeish).
Where we live is a huge retirement area. For the first 3 years here, I too sat back and said “everything is for the old people”. Then one day during registration for CCD, I walked up to the DRE and said “I want to volunteer, what needs to be done.”
It is AMAZING once I became involved how quickly even more opportunities to get involved came up. Are there older folks involved, yep - there are also people from every age range and state of life. The 90/10 rule is very evident once you go behind the scenes in the Parish. 90% of the things that get done are done by 10% of the people. And that 10% gets very tired - they really do need your hands and willing spirit!
Just to clarify… in case what I said came off wrong. I don’t mind that there are a lot of older people in my parish, it is just that when a social event is explicitly for seniors, I assume that means 38 year olds aren’t invited. So, I feel uninvited to about 70% of the social events at church. And I have gone up and offered to volunteer for RCIA, ushering, assisting the liturgy people. I’m not a strange person either, in case you are thinking that maybe they don’t want me getting involved because I’m a freak or something. I’m entirely normal, I assure you. But, I start to get sort of paranoid why I’ve been kind of ignored so many times. Maybe I smell??? LOL.
Sounds like this is a topic for my therapist instead!!! :eek:
I’ll take your advice, though, and keep plugging away. Sheesh, though. It shouldn’t be THIS hard!!!
I just had an idea. I could offer to do “Neighborhood Walks”. I could say that anyone interested can meet in front of the church at a certain time and we could go for a 30 minute walk around the neighborhood. I wonder if anybody would show up. Walking is a good way to talk to people for me, with my shyness. Somehow if we aren’t facing eachother it is a lot less strained. Has anyone heard of any exercise stuff with their church?
One of the laws that our current pastor laid down when he first arrived was that all social events are open to all parishioners (by which he means, everyone in the whole neighborhood, as well as everyone who comes to our parish for Mass). So, there is no such thing as a “seniors’ event” or a “teens event” - everything is open to everyone - if you happen to be in Calgary and you see cars in our church parking lot, come on over - yes, you are welcome!!
The result is that after years of being the quietest parish in the whole world (probably), the place is now jumping - we have pig roasts, karaoke parties, pizza nights, Sunday School picnics, strawberry teas, pancake breakfasts, celebration dinners, and all kinds of stuff, in addition to the regular ministry stuff. It’s great!!
Please excuse my bad mood, but my parish only has social activities. Almost all are for retired couples and widow/ers. I’m retired (51), but I’ve never been married so I don’t fit that group.
I’m dying for some spiritual stimulation. A Bible study class would be lovely.
Oh gosh…lots of things. K of C Spaghetti Dinners and Pancake Breakfasts, donuts and coffee after Masses, different adult education classes taught by a Master Theologian and a Sister, Lenten soups and both “standard” and “family” Stations of the Cross during Lent, fun events like Halloween parties, All Saints Day children’s parade (that is our parish feast day and the kids dress up as saints and process into the church at the beginning of Mass, get special seating up front…it’s a big event), and there are some other events and groups for women and seniors too.
This is in addition to encouraging people to volunteer for ministries. Honestly, I know a lot more people at my church, and I know them better, now that I volunteered for a couple of ministries.
The rule our pastor has is that if you come to him complaining about something, you are the first one he will ask to volunteer to do something about it! And I have to say, I agree with him on that. It’s easy to complain, much harder to contribute.
Do some research to find a good program, then ask your pastor if you can start a study group and put a notice in the bulletin. The advantage would be that you get to pick an evening or morning convenient to you for it to meet.
The pastor we had when I first came to my parish would let us start just about anything we could think of but he would make us do the research and find a way to fund it. The result is that my parish has more than 70 ministries and organizations with lots of overlapping help between groups. We have so many Bible and book study groups that I could not count them all. We get a lot of work done while also having a lot of fun.
Sometimes it only takes a few willing souls to light a fire under the rest of the parish. You don’t need the parish money (or even their space) to start a Bible study. My CRHP team began our own book study where we just vote on suggested books and buy them on our own. We meet in homes because the rooms at church are usually all booked up. Our study guides have cost less than $10 per person.
We have more than 70 ministries and organizations, 7 men’s softball teams, etc. This does not include the numerous Bible/book study groups that are not counted in “official” lists. If you want to get some ideas of what you could get started at your parish check out our website. Almost everything we do was started by an individual or a small group of parishioners who had an idea of something we needed. We are a fairly young parish (less than 20 years old), so we didn’t have anything (including a real building) a relatively short time ago.
Don’t give up on your parish. Help to make it into what you want/need. We don’t have a bowling alley, coffee bar or fitness center like the mega church about 10 minutes away from us, but we are definitely the center of the local community with some fun things that can draw in the wider community such as our annual carnival, fun run, art auction, etc.
Yours is the best answer to my problem but I’ve only been in the Church for a year and don’t have the knowledge or experience to get a group together.
We have a Bible study group, but I think there are others that are much better. Tons of people join in the fall, but drop out within the first six weeks. Since I spent six months with the DRE last year during RCIA, I’m hoping the I can get him or the pastor to help me get something going.
I worry that many Catholics have an attitude that we get enough Bible study from the scripture readings at mass and don’t need more in depth study. There’s so much more and I want to know it all.
That’s actually an excellent idea! A younger single man in my parish started his group, “Walking with Jesus - Come Join Us.” He started it out over a year and a half ago, just him, and the set up was that people after the 6:15 am daily Mass were invited to join him for a 30 minute walk around the neighborhood. He had some difficulty in the beginning of getting people to join him - many times it was just him and our pastor walking. But during the summer, things started picking up and now he’s got an average between 15-20 people walking with him every day!
But he didn’t just stick to this one ministry - he started up two more groups, and all three are very successful in our parish. Plus, he’s a member of our parish stewardship council, and a member of the Knights of Columbus. He’s very well known in the parish now - when he started his walking group, he was a recent revert back to the Faith.
Make an appointment with your pastor and tell him your thoughts about getting involved in the parish. As a member of the parish stewardship council, our motto is “Building Up the Body of Christ.” That’s exactly what you will be doing!
Good luck and God Bless!
Your Diocese probably offers training. I was only in the Church six months when I went for training in the Little Rock leadership program, and I ended up leading Little Rock Bible studies for four years in total.