Thomas G. Cronin
Thomas G. Cronin

I am compelled to provide a very practical and specific call to action in this month’s column. Many pre-COVID Mass attendees who have not yet returned to celebrate the Sunday Liturgy are not coming back to church automatically.

The laity must be empowered to mobilize at each of our 126 parishes across our Diocese. The re-engagement plan must be personal and it starts with the families that are in the pews identifying families that are missing. It is then critically important to take action: reach out and let them know we love, care and miss them.

Steps include:

     Pray for the vitality of your parish

     Pray for the families in your parish

     Develop a process to identify and re-engage missing families, for example:

      — Put index cards or a simple form with pencils in the pews

      — Attendees put their name, email and phone number on the card

      — Attendees identify 3-to-5 families that haven’t returned to Mass since the public celebration of the liturgy re-started back in June of 2020

     Collaborate and organize efforts with parish leadership

     Cross reference the lists of missing family names and have the person most familiar with them make the call; it is not meant to be a “cold call”

     Utilize resources like your parish directory to help develop lists and have them divvied up

     Provide general guidance to the callers — these phone calls must be caring and compassionate

      – The purpose is to personally re-connect with people

      – Share that the parish family misses and loves them

      – Be a good listener

      – Provide an update on your parish’s safety protocols and parish happenings

      – Personally invite them back

     Be empathetic and respect people’s perspectives for not returning and don’t cast judgments

      – Their health and safety is of the utmost importance; encourage people to use good judgment and to return when they are ready

     We must be diligent and continue to make these calls as often as needed

Evangelization is simple, but not easy — implementing the above should be reasonable for every parish to accomplish, but will take effort. One personal invitation at a time is how we will make our communities whole again. Bringing back one family at a time will unite us as the Body of Christ

Be not afraid! Our time to take action is now. We need to operate with a sense of urgency. We cannot wait any longer. Many families have started new Sunday morning routines and the longer we delay, the harder it will be for them to return. A proactive and loving personal invitation with the help of the Holy Spirit is how we will rebuild our Church.

Please contact me with any questions about boosting evangelization efforts at your parish at Thomas.Cronin@rcda.org or by visiting https://www.rcda.org/evangelization. Follow me on Instagram: tom_rcda