Reaching out to non churchgoing Catholics during Christmas

Materials have been made available to Catholic parishes across England and Wales to support outreach to non churchgoing Catholics during Advent and Christmas.

Come Home for Christmas is a seasonal outreach initiative which aims to offer a welcome to Catholics who for different reasons no longer or rarely attend Mass. It is a project of the Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis, Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

A variety of posters and invitation cards to appeal to different audiences are available for download from: http://www.catholicnews.org.uk/Home/Features/Christmas-Outreach-to-non-Churchgoing-Catholics.

There is also a bespoke website for those wanting to explore reconnecting with parish life: www.comehomeforchristmas.co.uk.

The promotion of the resources follows the launch of a national tour in York on 12th November 2011 called ‘Crossing the Threshold’ which is aimed at supporting churchgoing Catholics to reach out and minister to baptised Catholics who rarely or never attend Mass.

The event at English Martyrs Church brought an estimated 140 people together from across the area for a time of prayer, fellowship and discussion. The day also included a main talk and practically focused workshops.

Bishop Terence Drainey of Middlesbrough Diocese who attended the event said: “The ’Crossing the Threshold’ Regional Evangelisation Day was exciting. It was good to see so many there, far more than were expected. It was also good to see people from different parts of our region.”

Bishop Drainey said that at the end of Mass they were told to go and announce the Gospel of the Lord. “All of us who have been baptised and confirmed have been given a share in the mission of spreading the Word and building up the Body of the Church,” Bishop Drainey said. “In essence the content of the resource day showed us that the mission is on our doorsteps and we can bring the Gospel into our lives and the lives of those we meet through simple gestures. One of the most important ways is by inviting people to come and see, to come and meet the Lord and also by accompanying them in friendship.”

Bishop John Rawsthorne (Hallam) also attended the day and presided at the Mass. In his homily he said: “It is important that we strive to do our best to respond to the call to reach out to non churchgoers mindful that they and all our efforts are in God’s hands. It is His work and our task is to prayerfully listen to his prompting and direction.”

Sheilagh Preston, a parishioner from Mother of God, Sheffield (Hallam Diocese), attended the day representing the National Board of Catholic Women. She said: “It was an exceptional day for all. I went away elated. I felt we were on the move in responding practically to the needs of those we love and are concerned about. Listening to peoples’ stories was emphasised repeatedly on the day and I think this is essential.”

Four more tour days will be offered in 2012 covering: 4th February in Birmingham, 3rd March in Crawley, 28th April in Westminster and 23rd June in Cardiff.

For more information and bookings please contact Home Mission Desk, 020 7 901 4818, email mission.volunteer@cbcew.org.uk. You may also dial 0770 939 1998 and see the non churchgoing Catholics’ web page (http://www.catholicchurch.org.uk/Catholic-Church/Home-Mission/Non-Churchgoing-Catholics).