A sports team is only as strong as the depth of its bench and a parish is only as strong as the depth of its active parishioners.

More volunteers are needed than ever before as parishes continue with their phased reopenings of public celebration of the Eucharist from the COVID-19 shutdown. In order to adequately implement new guidelines and protocols, additional resources include a parish reopening committee, welcome team, health screeners, contact tracers, parking lot attendants, ushers, church cleaners and a videographer for streaming.

Several of these ministries existed in various forms already, but more resources are now required to make our gatherings organized and safe. Welcomers or greeters, especially when stationed outside near your parking lot entrance, may need to put forth some extra effort through emphatic waving or holding welcome signs due to face masks covering their smiles. Screeners are needed to ask the required health questions and handle contact tracing, but in a more compassionate way than that of a TSA agent at the airport. Parking lot attendants are on the front lines greeting people before they even step out of their cars and directing people where to go, especially if your parish is hosting an outdoor Mass or drive-in style Mass.
Remember, we don’t get a second chance at a first impression. Ushers must be more proactive in directing people to their seats and guiding communicants on where and how to receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Depending on a parish’s resources, volunteers may also be needed to properly disinfect the church building by following specific cleaning protocols after every gathering. Additionally, the homebound or those not yet comfortable with returning to public celebration of the Liturgy will greatly appreciate our efforts in continuing to provide a video recording or livestreaming option.

I consider the reopening of our churches like a business’ “Grand Reopening.” This is our opportunity to address deficiencies in our parish culture — show everyone what a welcoming parish family we are and spiritually feed our flock like never before. Be not afraid — this is the time to make changes so we may more effectively spread the Joy of the Gospel.

According to Dynamic Catholic Institute and described in the book, “Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic” by Matthew Kelly, “Roughly 7 percent of Catholic parishioners are doing almost everything in their faith community and paying almost entirely for the maintenance and mission of the parish.” We must increase the number of these “dynamic” or engaged Catholics. It is critical to parish vitality that we transition more parishioners from passive observers to active participants and the best approach in doing so is through personal invitation.

If you have been on the sidelines in volunteering at your parish, this is your call to action. Please take this opportunity to get involved and be an active parishioner — your parish needs you!

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