By Kristi Denoy, Blessed Is She
I love my parish for many reasons. We have one priest who’s a dynamic homilist, and another who is the most pastoral confessor I could hope to have.
Our Community Life Director is amazing and is constantly organizing activities to enrich the lives of our parishioners. Our Children’s Faith Formation Director is impeccable. She attends to every detail that someone could possibly think of in all her myriad programs and activities.
Even with all of that, it still isn’t enough.
Our parishes are trying to meet people where they are in their current faith formation journeys. That’s a wonderful goal.
But they’re also trying to maintain the building and facilities, and schedule every ministry around liturgies and Bible studies and requests for space for meetings. They can only do so much.
How to Lead in Our Parishes By Example
That’s why our parishes need us to step up to the plate. We have to be willing to be the hands and feet of our parishes.
Easier said than done, right? Maybe not.
Step One: Observe
The first step is to look around. What is missing in your parish? Is it a mothers’ group? Assistance for those who are homebound?
What is present and necessary, but floundering? Are people welcomed upon arrival, depending on which Mass they choose to attend?
What aren’t you offering that could help you meet others where they are? Do you have a large population that doesn’t speak English and no ESL classes at the parish? Several single moms and no help extended their way? Identify the need.
Step Two: Make a Plan
Once you’ve identified “the thing,” make a plan to meet that need. Do you need better community outreach? Why isn’t yours as effective as it needs to be? How do other local churches do it effectively? Are there events made accessible to the public? Does your parish charge for them?
Want parents of little ones to feel supported rather than treated like second-class citizens relegated to the cry room or Narthex? Try making Mass bags available for check out at the Welcome Table. You may even be able to get donations from local companies and fellow parishioners.
You’d be surprised how people meet a need when it’s made known. Do your research and formulate a plan for attacking your issue head-on.
Step Three: Enlist Others
Don’t go it alone. Recruit fellow parishioners to help out. They can be Mass friends, Bible study classmates, or people you know from other interactions at church.
Admittedly, this may be the hardest part. People love to participate in things, but that doesn’t always carry over to a love of helping set things up. If you’re smart about it, though, you can work around that. I’m sure there are several confirmandi who require service hour fulfillment—there’s a great source of manpower and it gives them ownership over something in their parish community.
Step Four: Know Who to Go to
This is going to be a key step. You want to approach the correct person to get the ball rolling as soon as possible.
Think about the area you’re trying to fix. Does it have to do with the parish at-large? Reach out to your Community Life Director. Are you targeting newlyweds? Empty nesters? That’s Adult & Family Life territory. Does it have to do with religious education? Reach out to that director.
Figure out where the need you’re addressing fits into your parish and know who you need to speak with.
Step Five: Make a Proposal
You’ve done the research. The need is there and you can state why. You have both the solution and the manpower to take it from idea to reality. You even know who you need to convince.
But you do still have to convince them.
Pull everything together into a PowerPoint presentation. Feeling extra tech-savvy? Make a video, including parishioner testimony supporting your endeavor. Make sure you have a list of names of those volunteering to help.
If what you’re proposing is going to cost money, you have extra work cut out for you. But don’t give up on it entirely. Research even more. Know the costs. Have names and managerial contacts of companies willing to donate items for the project. If you’re modeling it on a program at another church, show what that looks like (and again, include contacts).
Show how your proposal is necessary for parish life, but also how little the priests will have to do to implement it. Remember that they’ve got their hands full.
The Church Needs Us
The church is more than a building. It’s you and me. If we want our churches to reflect that in every way, we have to be willing to do something about it. Do you feel the call to be more active and involved in spearheading ministries in your parish?
Kristi Denoy is a wife to her Catholic Match and momma to two beautiful daughters, ages 9 and 3 months, respectively. She enjoys mom and pop coffee shops, reading, and all things theatre. Find out more about her at hailmarry.org