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Serving Absent Catholics

Serving Absent Catholics. Reconciliation. Definition. “Inactive Catholic” / “Unchurched Person” Those who have not been to church apart from social occasions at least once in six months. Clusters of Inactive Catholics. Keep Catholic Identity and do not worship.

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Serving Absent Catholics

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  1. Serving Absent Catholics Reconciliation

  2. Definition “Inactive Catholic” / “Unchurched Person” Those who have not been to church apart from social occasions at least once in six months

  3. Clusters of Inactive Catholics Keep Catholic Identity and do not worship No longer have a Catholic identity Keep Catholic identity and occasionally worship

  4. Fluid • We live in a society where religious activity has been described as a “marketplace” • People have less allegiance to any particular religious expression • This means we cannot presume our membership will stay connected; nor presume that unconnected members will not connect at some other time

  5. Percentages All Catholics Rarely or never = 32% Few times a year = 24% At least 1x month = 21% Once a week = 23%

  6. Pre-1965 Rarely or never = 21% Few times a year = 15% At least 1x a month = 19% Once a week = 45%

  7. 1961 & Later Rarely or never = 32% Few times a year = 30% At least 1x a month = 24% Every week = 17% CARA, Freq. Asked Stats.

  8. Categories • The Alienated = people who think of themselves as Catholic but feel anger, separation, hostility for one reason or another • The Lapsed = people who no longer think of themselves as Catholic

  9. Categories • Inactive = people who think of themselves as Catholic but are do not make worship a priority. . . “Cultural Catholics” • Episodic = people who think of themselves as Catholic but who worship in irregular patterns. . . Once a month. . . Every few weeks

  10. Identity People have weakened identitieswith the Church—and many otherkinds of institutions.

  11. Weakened Identity A Weakening Connection (Rather than a hostile disconnection) How Important is Catholic Church? 1987 – 49% 2005 – 44% I will never leave Church. 1987 – 64% 2005 – 56% Mass once a week 1987 – 44% 2005 – 34% D’Antonio, et. al., Catholic Today

  12. Residual Identity • Crowds turned out for John Paul II, both in various nations and on World Youth Day occasions • Benedict XVI’s remarkable positive reception among all age groups on his visit to the United States in 2008 • People who come for Ashes, Palm, Christmas and Easter

  13. Attitudes • Who comes to the parish to be married? What are their motivations? • Who comes to the parish to have their children baptized? What are their motivations?

  14. Pastoral Strategy How do we help Catholics re-buildor strengthen theiridentity with the Church?

  15. Generational Factors • Young people “tinker” their way to identity • Experimentation with life through one’s twenties and thirties • Commitments (including church) come later in life • Identity is formed from a variety of networks: family, school, church, friends, work, interests, entertainment

  16. Social Factors • Contemporary schedules, particularly in terms of professionals • Faith is something “personal” (and not organizational) • Institutions are seen negatively

  17. Social Factors Faith is important, but not “essential,” to my life

  18. Social Factors • We now live in a universe where people see themselves as “consumers” • People will tend to “shop” for religious experience and identity • Authority has only limited effect in people’s thinking because the context for “authority” cannot be easily contained

  19. Teaching • The modern world is one of exploring and searching • Our teaching has to be asserted in an open, allusive, and friendly way • This is what happens for the most part in the Catechumenate in which people grapple with faith and come to a deeper sense of discipleship

  20. Experience In contemporary society, the only criterionthat people seem to be using forchoices about faith/religion is that of experience

  21. Two Defining Traits • Suburbanization: one picks and chooses according to one’s desires • New way of growing up means a gradual acquiring of an identity through exploration These provide the framework in whichwe have to be Church today

  22. Transition Identity used to come from one’scultural and familial patterns. Today identity is something thatpeople construct; it is, to some extent,a product of choice and decision.

  23. Methods • Develop ways to expand peoples’ experiences of faith/church • Develop ways people can explore faith together • Make faith accessible in their lives • Lead people on journeys to deepen/explore faith

  24. Journeys If there are journeys of faith that people undertake in their lives,that means we have to respect and use the processespeople need for their journey

  25. Process • The human processes of discovery and dialogue • People need room to shop and explore • Process, through conversation is a way that people connect and grow today

  26. Conversation • A key touchstone in human experience • A way to involve people, help them bond together, and, through bonding, experience a new identity • A way to help people awaken faith through their own experience

  27. Trust • Trust in the conversation • The diversity of the experience of people helps to blend out the extreme positions • People need to grapple with ideas and teachings – this takes time • An open and accepting environment helps, one done in the context of faith and grace

  28. Pastoral Method Smaller Group Parish & Church

  29. Methods • Connect people to groups for conversation • Help people move from smaller groups to larger groups (parish, church) • Redefine experience of Catholicism more as relational than institutional • Create larger voices of invitation and welcome from the wider Church

  30. Diversifying Language • To speak of being “away” from the Church hardly touches the consciousness of those younger than 40 • To speak of “lapsed” or “fallen-away” Catholics puts people in absolute categories that might not make sense for them

  31. Diversifying Language • To ask people to come “home” may not make sense to whole generations of people, while it does make sense to other generations • To talk about reconnecting, reactivating or renewing faith can speak to people who have a latent faith and weakened Catholic identity

  32. Programs Awakening Faith – groups based on structured conversation around themes of faith and appropriating faith

  33. New Paradigm • Responds to the “new paradigm” of inactive Catholic who . . . • Tend to be younger • Grew up without a strong identity with a church • Do not think of themselves as being “away”

  34. Emphasis • Angry • Marginalized • Involved in “edge” groups • Feel disconnected • “Apathetic” • Have some sense of “faith” • No clear sense of disconnection • “Coming Home” Huh??

  35. Approach • Six basic conversations—the “kerygma” in conversation form • Four optional follow-up sessions • Can be done in the Fall, after Christmas, during Lent, after Easter • In English and in Spanish

  36. Structured Conversation The heart of each session is a short essaywhich the group reads together. The essay gives the members “common” groundin their participation in the conversation.

  37. Dynamic Create a sense of sharingand belonging. . . which leads to a strongsense of bonding.

  38. Essay • About 1,000 words • Read together – because they won’t read it ahead of time • Read “one by one” to create ownership • Read out loud to get everyone talking

  39. The Sessions • Spirituality, What’s the Buzz? • Who is Jesus? • Do We Need the Holy Spirit • Can I Accept God’s Mercy? • Can Mass Make My Life Meaningful? • The Church and Me

  40. 4 Optional Sessions • Is Faith Possible Today? • Searching for Love • Marriage, Divorce, and Annulment • Money and the Treadmill of life

  41. Components All the components are designed to get people to talk and share with each other. • Welcome, hospitality • Introduction and ice breaker • Statement of “ground rules” • Moment of reflection • Scripture quote • Reading and discussion • Clarifications • Prayer • Announcements-hospitality

  42. Facilitator • Does not need to be a theological or pastoral giant • Basic knowledge of church teaching is fine • Must be a strong facilitator—engage people and get them talking • Must NOT be the kind to “fix” everyone else • Must NOT be doctrinaire

  43. Facilitator • Can be more than 1 facilitator over the six sessions • Leads the sessions • Gets people talking; avoids arguments • Calls each participant after the 3rd week to see how sessions are going, how to help, answer any questions

  44. Resources Know how to refer people to • Tribunal • People who know doctrine • Psychologist or counsellor • Other possible resources

  45. Publicity • Describe this as a 6 session process • Stay away from “come home” and “been away” vocabulary • Get parishioners to be involved in the outreach • Other PR as it makes sense in the neighborhood

  46. Group • Group-focused, not individual focused • Assumes no anger or alienation • Evokes a theme of “awakening” a faith that is “latent” in a person • Operates on the dynamics of belonging and bonding

  47. Prepare • Develop a small team: PR, facilitator, welcome and hospitality • Designate an “invitation” Sunday to saturate the congregation, homily-theme, etc. • Pick a date to begin when rooms are free for 6 weeks, etc.; at least 4 weeks after launch • Parish prayer on Sunday, other times

  48. Effectiveness • Parishes find the program easy to implement • Parishes feel most intimidation with the invitation part • Parishes find most people who participate end up involved in the parish again • Plan for 1 group per 1,000 people who come on Sunday

  49. Paulist Evangelization Ministries www.pemdc.org www.awakeningfaith.org 3031 4th St. NE Washington, DC 20017 202-832-5022

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