As many of you know, the Archdiocese of Vancouver recently launched the ‘Catholics Come Home’ initiative to encourage Catholics who no longer practice the faith or do not attend church regularly to return to the Church. A number of television advertisements have been playing to re-introduce the public to the Church and encourage those who have left to return. The program is even making the news; the Vancouver Sun’s front page displayed an article on this initiative today morning. Click here to read the article: VancouverSun.
For those of us who regularly attend mass, it is important to remember that the Catholics Come Home initiative is not some external program that will allow us to merely sit back and watch the returnees roll in. We all have a role to play in welcoming our returning brothers and sisters back to the family.
One of the easiest things we can do is to be hospitable to visitors and to new faces in the pews. Say hello, introduce yourself and welcome them to the parish. If someone is returning after a long time away, encountering friendliness and warmth will do much more to encourage them to return, rather than experiencing a church service where they are completely unacknowledged and unnoticed. And if the person you have reached out to turns out to be a regular attendee rather than a visitor, you have still taken a step toward building the community and getting you know your neighbour.
The following websites have a lot of great information on what we can do to help welcome home our brothers and sisters. They also offer some great resources to help us learn more about our own faith. Take some time and browse around.
So this next Sunday, Monday (Christmas vigil) and Tuesday (Christmas Mass), make a special effort to say hello to someone you have not previously met or seen before, and help them feel a part of our parish family.