A certain, quite popular, Catholic speaker and his organization has popularized the act of giving away a great Catholic read at Christmas and Easter to all in attendance. I believe this practice has been transformational in the Church over the past ten years. People diving deeper into their faith, asking questions, and learning more will only bring great things into the culture.
There are also people who will receive the book and never crack open its pages. I encountered this with my own family one year. The previous Christmas they’d received a great Catholic read wrapped in a piece of paper and a ribbon (very simple, super cute). The following year when I was home for Christmas I noticed the book, still wrapped, ribbon still tied sitting on the end table in the living room.
It’s because of this that I encourage the parishes I work with to give away a book AND then use it for Adult Formation, Bulletin Articles, Social Media Posts, Homily Helpers, and more for the next few months. Start a parish book club, incorporate small group sessions, maybe invite the author.
One of the parishes I’m coaching for the Parish Vision Plan this year is doing just that with the above book. The main focus of their efforts in year 1 was “educate people on the Mass” and “talk about the beauty of the Mass” and “bring more people back to the Mass.” Sensing a theme?
So they purchased 650 copies of the book Bored Again Catholic by Timothy P. O’Malley to hand out at Christmas. In the weeks leading up to Advent they had an Adult Formation session on the first 1/3 of the Mass. January yielded the next section, and February they’ll discuss the final third. Then the small group sessions focused on the book will begin. Toward the end of those sessions they will have the privilege of hosting the author.
The mistake most parishes make with any effort is lack of follow through. It’s the mistake most of us make with any of our goals. We get excited to set the goal, we can’t wait for the outcome, we get started, and then it gets hard or we mess something up, and we stop. This process for their Formation Sessions, Small Groups, and Author Event is a fantastic model for follow through.
What can your parish do the next time it passes out a great Catholic read?