Why don't Catholics partipate in the Church outside of Mass?

I’ve noticed that Catholics (adults) very rarely engage in any sort of activities to build up the Church (spiritually and in faith) outside of the Mass. I’ve seen in several of the local parishes that maybe 1% to 5% of of the overall parish population engages in activities outside of Mass – and usually they are the same core group that will do scripture study, prayer groups, eucharistic minister to the sick, etc

Some are “Lukewarm”.
Some do things that are not “evident” - in other words hidden.
Some have their hands full trying to raise up “good Catholic children”…

There can me many reasons…
But understand and agree that it would be nice if there were more folks actively engaged in “extracurricular” activities…


Sometimes, that 1-5% can be hard to break into, or to wrest any position from…Yes, there are politics in any organization including the Church. In fact, when it comes to doing things inside the Church, because we believe that good works DO help us get to Heaven, some people grab a whole lot of territory, perhaps in hopes of paving their way to Heaven.

Just another POV from where I’ve been.

There are a number of practical Catholics who only go to Mass and participate in the healing sacraments, but I think your figure of 1%-5% may be a bit off for nationwide figures of highly actives. The thing is that you don’t always see them when they are practicing the Faith outside of Mass. Remember, Christ warned us against bragging or elevating ourselves in our prayer and good works, and the faithful tend to do what they can without most people even knowing about it.

This is also true. In my case, I participate in 40 Days for Life and have worked at my local pro-life coalition, helping them with their yearly fund-raising benefit. I think Catholics don’t generally make any noise about what they do for the Church.

TheRealJuliane and JRKH both make good points. I know some groups that you have to be “invited” to join and they don’t easily accept someone new into their cadre. Also not all ministry is a Church sponsored event. Many people spread the gospel by bearing witness to others and defending the Church. Others might participate in things like Habitat for Humanity, soup kitchens, clothing drives, etc. that are not directly sponsored by their parish.

I volunteer at an NPR radio station that operates a subcarrier where volunteers read newspapers, magazines, etc to listeners who are blind or print-impaired over specially-equipped radio receivers that the station loans out to those in need. As you say, this has nothing to do with my parish but those who need the service appreciate it. Also the newspapers and magazines are secular but every once in a while on my program I bring in the local Catholic diocesan newspaper and read an article or two from that. The director says it is okay as long as I give credit to my source.:thumbsup:

I am catholic and my family(mom, dad and brothers) are protestant. I would say that the protestant churches are a little more pushing when it comes to volunteering. My brothers are asked by church officials constantly on which ministries they want to participate in. Ive noticed the catholic church lets in be known that they need help and leave it at that. Maybe just my parish, Im not sure.

This isn’t just a Catholic problem either, I know plenty of protestants who are no more involved in their respective faith communities other than attending services on Sunday morning.

A neighbor approached the priest, president of the woman’s guild, and another in the church about starting a group to address a need in the parish. All said they’d get back to her and she never heard a word after six months.

Another asked about serving meals on a holiday and was told bluntly by the priest, “We don’t do that.”

Another asked to volunteer and was told by same, “We have enough volunteers.”

Last month, the parish sent out a survey asking for volunteers. :confused:

There are 35 who usually attend daily Mass. Very warm during the “Peace” and holding hands part. Once that is over, no one acknowledges you. After seven years,none of the priests has ever addressed me by name.

Some of the other posters have brought up very good points. I think it depends on how you are defining activities and where you got the 1 - 5% figure. Are you defining activities as going Bible studies or as one poster pointed out pro-life activities? Many Catholic Bible studies ofter become vicariate wide, i.e." including more than one parish. Also many active Catholics are involved directly in some kind of service at mass instead of activities out side of mass and on different days. This includes Eucharistic minister, usher, lector, sacristan. I know that is what I do and do not currently have time to be involved in some of the other areas of service that you mentioned above. As in any Church, Catholic or Protestant, there is usually the same core that have the time and ability to do prayer groups, Bible study etc.
Some of the Catholic Churches outreach and ministry that include the broader diocese or vicariate involve many Catholics that are not going to be seen in their parish such as 40 days for life. My current parish is involved in a rotating homeless shelter called Mcrest.
which when hosting it, involve many many people. The best view to have is to always make sure that you are involved yourself and leave the rest to God.

Maybe it depends on the vitality of the parish and parishiners. Many of my friends, the parish is the center of our social life. So, you might be over generalizing, and painting with the proverbial wide brush.


The only thing I do at my church is go to Mass. I would LOVE to volunteer and attend more functions. I’d really like to get involved in RCIA, for example. However, my work schedule makes this absolutely impossible, and unfortunately, that doesn’t look to change any time in the near future. In the last two years, I’ve attended exactly one church function besides Mass, and it wasn’t even at my parish (it was a local Middle Eastern festival at a Maronite Church near here.) That’s a big reason that I post so frequently on here… so I can still be doing something for the church, but I can do it on my time, whenever I have a spare ten minutes here and there. In this economy, it would not surprise me if there are a lot of people with the same excuse. They want to come, but they can’t.

that is sad but in seven years have you gone to talk to the priest yourself? One of the best ways to “know” the priest or be known by him is the volunteer and involve yourself at mass even daily mass and help out there. The lady that wanted to start a group to address a parish need should have pursued it more. Told who ever she talked to what and how and where, publish in the bulletin and go from there. The priest might not have wanted to get involved in a Holiday meal plan do to liability, past experience, lack of help etc. Just throwing out and idea like this without maybe a detail plan of how to make it work, what it would cost etc might have been the cause of the rejection by the priest.

you can still be involved at mass. step forward and volunteer as a greeter, usher, EM, lector, sacristan. Maybe you don’t have time now but you can still do something and you will be amazed at how many you meet doing the very same thing. I am a lector and that is all I have time for right now but at least i feel it is something.

I am a recent convert and used to being active as a former Prostestant. We have a large parish but few “workers”. One activity I found that is always recruiting is the Legion of Mary- I am probationary with them as they give you three months to make sure you want to be actively involved as there are time committments with the volunteer work involved. They are always looking for recruits. I was a Stephen Minister in my Methodist church so this looks like something I will enjoy. I am also going to help out at RCIA next year. Anyway if your parish has the Legion of Mary they may be looking for more recruits and it is a way to get to know people.



She did. She called, dropped off the information, talked to the office secretary, talked to the priest on the phone, and to the head of the woman’s guild. She was told they’d get back to her and none did.

Yes, the church does not do meals during the holidays. She could accept that. What disturbed her was the way in which she was handled…abruptly. Might have been better if he had said the parish doesn’t do that but the secretary might know of a group providing meals and she could volunteer through them.

What goes in the bulletin must be approved by the pastor so she was not free to pubish her idea in it.

The atmosphere is such that many (I’ve been told 200) have gone elsewhere.

I am sorry the hear all of this. It sounds like the priest is not open to new ideas and people running them and yes there is no excuse to be rude.

This tells me that your parish is united around the Eucharist.

A parish has to be united around the altar and around the Eucharist. If they are, they can do anything. If not, then they will always struggle.

My parish has bible studies in peoples homes, the top KofC council in the state, field trips to the Cathedral, Fun Nights for develpmentally disabled, groundskeeping days, Friday fish fry during lent, is strong in SvDP, Boy Scouts, etc. The Hispanics are always doing some kind of evangelization or having some kind of retreat or making a whole bunch of noise down the hall about something.

Our pastor keeps reminding us that we are a “Eucharistic Community” and that the Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith. He reminds us frequently that we can do anything we set our minds to but that we have to be united around the Eucharist and around the altar and liturgy first. Everything flows from that.


Sounds like a very good parish…it is the Eucharist Who is the source of our life and unity, not something man made.

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