Diocese of Ogdensburg

The Roman Catholic Church in Northern New York

Reaching out to Inactive Catholics:

We all know people who were raised Catholic but no longer practice their faith. They may only attend Mass on Christmas and Easter or at weddings, funerals or other special events. These may be family members or neighbors. Perhaps you yourself are away from the Church and are looking to return. Today the largest religious group in the United States is Roman Catholic. The second largest group is former Roman Catholics. We wish they would come back to the Catholic Faith and home to the Church. They are like missing family members whose absence is keenly felt. To reach out to these inactive Catholics requires patience and sensitivity, and awareness that Faith is not something that we can force; rather it is a gift from God that requires openness to his grace.

As active Catholics, what can we do?

        • Pray for those who are away from the Faith.
        • Be a friend. Listen to the person who is away from the faith. In conversation with them, you may find an opening for a gentle invitation, or a word of encouragement.
        • Invite them to Church events. They may not be ready to come back to Mass, but they may come to a concert, or a picnic, or a potluck supper.
        • Be not afraid and live your faith. We hesitate to live our faith out loud, because we do not want to live our faith "for show", but on the other hand, we should not hide our faith either.
        • Share your story. You may be the only Gospel they will ever read.

Some ideas you may want to consider for empowering regular parishioners to be more comfortable sharing their faith:

        • Provide events that inactive Catholics may be comfortable attending that parishioners can invite friends to: concerts, movie nights, potluck suppers etc.
        • Provide adult faith formation classes to teach the basics of the faith. It is helpful to have single topic classes, so people do not have to commit to a series.
        • Provide resources to parishioners that answer common questions and "hot button" issues (for example, marriage/annulment/divorce, all male priesthood, confession, contraception, homosexual "marriage", life issues, etc.
        • Have materials inviting inactive Catholics to give the Faith a second look at events they will attend (weddings and funerals, Christmas, Easter, Ash Wednesday, and Palm Sunday, Baptisms, First Communion and Confirmation, etc. )

Other Resources for Reaching out to Inactive Catholics:

Welcoming Catholics Home is a parish based program that originally started in the Diocese of Manchester in New Hampshire that has been used with much success to invite inactive Catholics back to the Church.

Catholics Come Home is a wonderful organization that provided videos and resources at low cost to invite Inactive Catholics back to the Church

Paulist Evangelization Ministries has a variety of resources and programs for reaching out to inactive Catholics as well as those who have never considered the Catholic Faith.

Lighthouse Catholic Media provides wonderful books and CD’s (as well as downloadable mp3s on a wide variety of topics. These are a wonderful resource, both for educating active parishioners, but also to evangelize by giving them away.