Are we welcoming?

Continuing from last week, in the first section of Disciples Called to Witness: The New Evangelization, a new document by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, we read,

many of our brothers and sisters have simply drifted away from the Church. This is due in part to the busyness of modern life and to a changing culture. There are also Catholics who attend Mass on a regular basis but who feel unconnected to the parish community.

Then, a bit later,

In addition, there is an unsettling ignorance of the Eucharist as well as an erosion of Sunday as the Lord’s Day dedicated to prayer and rest. The reasons that Catholics cite for missing Mass can be met and overcome by parishes that foster a welcoming environment for adolescents, young adults, singles, married couples, parents, families, the sick or disabled, and anyone who is no longer active in the faith. The means for fostering a welcoming environment is the New Evangelization. The New Evangelization places a special emphasis on welcoming back to the Lord’s Table all those who are absent, because they are greatly missed and needed to build up the Body of Christ.

How often, in our discussions about evangelization, do we find ourselves discussing “those people”? The bishops are reminding us here that “those people” are our friends and in fact our brothers and sisters.

They’re family in a way that’s real and tangible, sealed with a sacrament.

Our focus, so often, is on converting the heathens, so to speak, as opposed to winning back the fallen away. We spend a lot of energy trying to convince someone, but do we focus on how we’re living our lives and, as the bishops point out here, making our parishes welcoming?

What does welcoming look like? To a family with small children, it means family-friendly. To single young adults–or single older adults, for that matter–it means introductions and inclusion. To everyone, it means parish being family in a way that’s very “come on in” and “join us” and “we want you here.”

How it looks within your community, specifically, is something you should consider, discern, and discuss. Approach your pastor. Talk to your catechists. Turn to your neighbor in the pew.

Previous posts in this series:

Copyright © 2012, Sarah Reinhard

Sarah Reinhard

Sarah Reinhard

Sarah Reinhard continues to be shocked and delighted that her life as a grown-up involve horses, writing, and sparkly dress shoes. In her work in the New Evangelization as a Catholic wife, mom, writer, parish employee, and catechist, she’s learned a lot of lessons, had a lot of laughs, and consumed mass amounts of coffee. She’s online at and, and is the author of a number of books.

9 responses to “Are we welcoming?”

  1. […] Sarah Reinhard wrote about being welcoming over at New Evangelizers the other day. Posts like hers always make me cry.  The reason is because if I who should feel totally at home in a Catholic parish feel so utterly isolated . . . how on earth does everyone else feel? […]

  2. I have “lived” the wonder of being generously welcomed into a community as well as feeling left out and ignored especially by the leadership. As a vet of the charismatic experience I am unshakably convinced that the “trick” of a wildly successful parish is the building up of community. Oddly enough, that really costs little to nothing and it is often the last thing that a busy pastor gives his attention to. Jesus came to build his community on earth. The validity of that exists today. What other corporation do you know about that is still in tact and vital after 2000 years?

  3. […] all the more reason why we have to be welcoming all the time, not just when it’s time for donuts or to ask a favor. How we welcome may differ by […]

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