Engagement or Encounter

Why aren’t people coming to Mass? I’m going to list some reasons I hear from family, friends, co-workers, parish surveys, articles, and people I follow on the internet. COVID-19 has exacerbated this issue, but it’s not the only reason why people are staying away from Mass. So here are the reasons I’ve heard:

Our Mission Has Not Changed

Nathan writes from his own experience as a convert (the first Catholic in his family), a bi-racial man, an US Army Ranger, and man of faith in active ministry. He helps me answer a question I’ve been asking over the past six weeks – “What should the Church being doing right now?” // I hope you’ll appreciate this words as much as I did today.

Back to Why

Have you ever thought about “WHY your parish exists?” Why is there a Church on that corner? What benefit does it bring? What would be lost if it closed or never existed? My parish has been reopen for Mass for over a month now, but we are still closed for events and activities – and probably will be for awhile. I think many of you are in the same situation as us, or you’re considering opening in the next few weeks.

Graces Abound

I found this image from a tweet a few weeks back and paused before sharing. Why? Because I didn’t think we were in a place to think about the graces of this season yet. I wasn’t at least. I wish I had been though. I wish I’d had a more positive, long-term outlook – but, truthfully, I was just getting by day-by-day, week-by-week.

Challenges for Youth

I saw this youth ministry effort a few weeks ago, and if you haven’t done something creative for youth ministry, now is the time to get started! Use the summer to re-engage the teens at the parish!

Considerations for Re-Opening

During our final Keeping the Faith webinar, Rich Fischer and I had a conversation that asked a lot of questions. Things to consider as we plan to re-open our Churches. The conversation is in full above, I encourage you to take some time to watch. Below are some of our talking points. Parishioners are excited to come back, they are also nervous because they don’t know what to expect at the parish or with this virus.

Creativity in the Midst of Chaos

The past 7 weeks or so have felt like complete chaos to me, maybe to you as well. Masses were cancelled and suddenly everything I’ve taken for granted about being Catholic was put on pause. I’ve been encouraged though by the many priests and churches who have used this time to be creative! This is not an exhaustive list by any means, nor am I sharing to say that every priest and church needs to be doing the same thing. We each need to use our own gifts and talents to stay connected with our parish families.

Managing Expectations

The main expectation I want to talk about is this: Everything will be just as it has always been when we go back to Mass. That’s unrealistic. Each Diocese is working on different rules and policies for when we go back. I’m going to list some questions you need to ask when communicating these changes to your parishioners, and maybe some things you haven’t thought of yet.

Innovation

Earlier this year, the OSV Institute sponsored an event (the first of many) called “OSV Talks.” The goal was to mimic the format of TED Talk Conferences and inspire the Church to be creative in Her efforts to Evangelize and share the message of the Gospel.

What Happens Next

As I write today, I’ve attended more than 25 Liturgies via a screen. As someone who can count on one hand the number of times I’ve missed Mass, in a Church, on a Sunday, this has been quite a strange season. I know most of you reading this are feeling the same attending Mass via live-stream. I’m so grateful for our priests and parishes who are working through the wobbliness and strangeness of this entire process. As our associate keeps saying, “It’s very strange to say Mass looking at an iPad.”