Parishes in England and Wales are trying to reach out to the estimated 4 million baptized Catholics here who rarely or never attend Mass.
A note from the bishops’ conference reported that Father Kieran Conry, chair of the bishops’ Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis, gave voice to the call to parishes to prioritize this ministry.
“An important focus of the work of evangelisation in England and Wales is ministry and outreach to the estimated four million non-churchgoing, sometimes called ‘lapsed’, Catholics,” he said. “While the lapsation of baptised is not new within the Catholic community, the worry and anxiety experienced by parents, siblings and grandparents of non-churchgoing baptised, is deep and heartfelt. We all hold in our hearts at least one person in our family who seems disconnected from the life of the Church.”
The priest encouraged parishes and individuals to use resources provided by the bishops’ conference in the context of this weekend’s Home Mission Sunday.
“This is not an ‘us’ and ‘them’ model of ministry,” he reminded, adding, “we are all in need of deepening our relationship with Christ.”
“If there are people who want to come into our Catholic churches, I would say that you are most welcome,” Father Conry continued. “I am sure that there are people who lost contact with the Church long ago, and now, with all the changes that have happened, might feel too shy to come back in, afraid to embarrass themselves by doing the wrong thing. I would say to them, don’t worry, come in and see. Sit at the back and do what the rest do. You might be pleasantly surprised.’
This year’s theme for Home Mission Sunday is “Crossing the Threshold: Ministry and Outreach to non-churchgoing Catholics.”
Over 400,000 campaign leaflets have been distributed covering every parish and religious house. This area of the Church’s work has been chosen in response to requests from all tiers of the Catholic community for it to be resourced and prioritised.
Archbishop Vincent Nichols, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, said: “Announcing the good news in deed and word is the task of each of us as followers of Jesus. We do so, even in the midst of our daily tasks, whenever we behave with compassion, with ready forgiveness and with generosity towards those in need. When we are seen to act in this manner of Jesus, then we may well make others wonder, at least a little, why we do so. We should be ever ready to put into words, simply and directly, the reasons for our behaviour – the truth of Jesus whom we know and love. Home Mission Sunday reminds us just how important the work of evangelisation is. We are all called to be attentive to the ways that we can ‘Cross the Threshold’ by reaching out to those closest to us, to the stranger and to those most in need of our help.”
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For more information about Home Mission Sunday and the ‘Crossing the Threshold’ project please see: