The Pittsburgh Catholic offers some suggestions for coming back to church. I don’t know if many inactive Catholics read diocesan news organs, but I do know that many Catholics do. As the holidays approach, let me expand on the theme and suggest some ways for active Catholics to roll up their sleeves and work against the SCGS mentality.
– Invite a son or daughter, a friend, or a neighbor to join you for Mass and a brunch or dinner afterward.
– Ask questions of your neighbors.
– Offer to drive people to church.
– Be sure to be extra welcoming on holidays. No need to be in-your-face with holding hands and hugging, but a smile will do wonders.
– Resist every urge to publicly register your dismay when other people’s children misbehave in church.
– Recommend that your parishioners forego their weekly offering, and bring an inactive Catholic to Mass and take them out for dinner instead.
– Host an occasional dinner at the parish for the active-plus-inactive crowd.
– Advertise in the local media.
– Write an editorial in the local paper about how easy it is to return to church.
– Pay attention at parties when inactive Catholics (or others) approach you willing to talk about things.
– Making the parish a welcome haven for returning Catholics and new believers should be a priority of every priest. Without exception.