‘The Catholics Returning Home programme has been an invitation from heaven, giving me an opportunity to reclaim my Catholic faith – my deepest gratitude to those who have welcomed me home.’[Comment from a returning Catholic]
‘Sharing the participants’ experiences and reading the answers on their questionnaires about why they had come left us truly humbled.
These wonderful people were searching for God and we had the privilege of being their initial point of contact, of being the ones to tell them that God loves them, which was something many of them had not heard before.
The fulfilment and joy are beyond words. Some participants were existing parishioners who wished to learn more about their faith and they were indeed most welcome.
Others were people who have been separated from the Church and its community for many years, and it was wonderful for us to have met them and shared this journey with them.’[Comment from a member of a Catholics Returning Home team]
‘Catholics Returning Home’ has been run as a parish or pastoral area-based ministry in the Wellington Archdiocese for the past five years, with 21 parishes involved.
Comments like those above are common, both from those participating and those involved in the ministry.
So what is Catholics Returning Home? It was written and developed by American Sally Mews, a wife, mother, and tax consultant by profession and herself a returning Catholic.
She wanted to help other Catholics rediscover the riches of the Catholic tradition, especially the sacraments, and to become active in their faith again.
Many Catholics, for a thousand different reasons, let their faith slide over the years, then find it difficult to come back – ‘everything has changed’, ‘I can’t remember the responses’, ‘I didn’t think I’d be welcome any more’, ‘I can’t remember how the Mass goes …’
The six-week Catholics Returning Home programme is designed as an entry point for those wanting to return with the emphasis on making participants feel welcome, accepted, and comfortable about rejoining the faith community and participating in its sacramental life.
Its success is its simplicity. It is a gentle compassionate ministry, a listening and affirming ministry where stories of pain and hurt can be told and hopefully let go, where people’s concerns and questions can be met or directed to the appropriate people, where participants feel that they are supported in their step out in faith, where they feel at home again.
Pope John Paul II said,
In the name of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, I wish to make an appeal – an appeal to Catholics throughout the world … especially those who for one reason or another are separated from the practice of their faith, Christ is seeking you out and inviting you back to the community of faith.
Do you know of anyone who might want to ‘return home’? A much quoted reason for people remaining separated from their faith community has been, ‘I would have come back earlier, but no-one asked me!’
What part can we play in this? Who are the lost sheep we need to seek out?
Find out when your parish is next presenting ‘Catholics Returning Home’ or ring the St Anne’s Parish Newtown team (Steve 970-1951, Mary-Anne 389-5668, or Anita 389-2058).
Their next course starts on Tuesday 6 June at 7.30pm in the St Anne’s Church foyer. You’d be most welcome.
This month, a Lower Hutt Catholics Returning Home programme is being held in the meeting room at Ss Peter and Paul Church, 60 Knights Road.
It started on Monday 1 May, at 7.30pm but latecomers are welcome.’≈°√É‚Äû’¬†
Contact Mary 586 0033 or Terry 938 5338.