Here are four helpful steps for reaching out to Inactive Catholics:
v Step 1. Decide whom to invite.
Identify the person by asking yourself:
· Has an inactive Catholic you know been talking more about the Church?
· Has someone you know identified him/herself as an inactive Catholic?
· Would he or she be open to receiving an invitation at this time?
v Step 2. Decide on the best way for you to give an invitation.
A personal conversation is the best way to extend an invitation. This will give the person you are inviting an opportunity to express any concerns. It also lets you assure the person that it is never too late and that he or she will be warmly welcomed. Depending on the situation, a conversation lets you speak about your love for Christ and the Catholic faith and how you benefit from being part of a parish.
If you are uncomfortable entering into a conversation, the We Miss You invitation that is part of Catholics Reaching Out is designed to be self-explanatory. All you need to do is let the person know that the invitation comes from your parish and you felt he or she might like to receive it.
v Step 3. Extend the invitation.
Some Catholics may feel unworthy or unqualified to invite someone. Yet we are all in need of grace; we are all on a lifelong journey of faith. Even in our weakness, we have a beautiful gift to share. We trust that the Holy Spirit will give us the grace, confidence, and courage we need to reach out in love.
Keep in mind that you have no control over how a person responds. Your role is to extend the invitation and listen in a warm, welcoming, and non-judgmental way. Most people will receive the invitation graciously. A very few may become irritated or angry. If so, don’t take the irritation or anger personally, but continue to respond in a loving and accepting way.
v Step 4. Give the person time to respond.
The Holy Spirit is already active in this person’s life and will help him or her make the best response at this stage of the journey.
Some may respond quickly, while others need time to reflect. For those who wish to make contact with the parish or to attend a church service or function, an offer to accompany them would be a sign of hospitality and care. Even if the person does not make known his or her response to you, the invitation provides ways for the person to return. Trust that God’s grace is at work, whatever the person decides.
Depending on your initial experience of extending an invitation, pray about whether a follow-up conversation would be helpful. Most often people will be grateful that you took the initiative to contact them again.
The Vital Role of Each Parishioner
Your parish’s ministry of extending invitations to inactive Catholics involves many people, each doing his or her part. Your role is to extend the invitation. Others in your parish are trained and available to talk with returning Catholics and give them the personal attention and care they deserve. Trust that the Holy Spirit will work powerfully through your efforts and through the ministry of these parish representatives.