It’s been nearly two years since dioceses throughout the United States suspended the public celebration of Masses. Even though our churches are back to celebrating Mass in public, there are still some parishioners who are hesitant to come back for a variety of reasons. Church leaders need to reach out, quell fears, and remind them what they’re missing: the Eucharist.
From sanitation stations in the church to personal invitations from staff leaders, here are some ways you can encourage your parishioners to come back to Mass.
Reassure Them That It’s Safe
We know more about COVID-19 transmissions, proper cleaning of church spaces, and hygiene best practices. Additionally, the use of masks and hand sanitizer are still very much a part of our lives. If that’s a barrier to coming back to Mass for some people, it’s essential that you communicate the safety precautions you still have in place.
While face masks may not be required any more, and roped off pews have since stopped, there are people who may still feel uncomfortable with coming back in full force. Make available a section of social distance seats, face masks in case anyone forgot theirs, and hand sanitizer stations.
Do They Know that (Most) Regular Practices are Back
When Mass was finally open to the public, there were so many restrictions in place that it was very scary for many. No contact, roped off pews, the application of hand sanitizer multiple times, crying rooms and bathrooms closed. Now, things are (relatively) back to normal. And if you haven’t communicated that to members who may have yet to be back, it’s definitely the time to start.
Send a communication to all members describing what they can expect. Yes, there are still some restrictions in place, but for the most part, the Catholic comeback is in full swing. The Sign of Peace, handing out bulletins by hand, the offertory, and more.
Remind Them What They’re Missing
It’s easy to get content with staying at home and relying on livestreamed Masses, but people need to understand that tuning in to Mass is just it — watching it. When we’re present in church, we’re in the presence of Jesus Christ, and all the graces that come from that. It’s a big deal! It shouldn’t be missed unless there are essential reasons why.
Remind parishioners of the reasons why coming to Mass is so essential to our lives — mind, body and soul. The graces we receive from the Eucharist, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and spending time with our Lord in Eucharistic Adoration are plentiful. To miss out on them is tragic.
Extent to Them a Personal Invitation
Sometimes, all it takes is an email in your inbox, a text message in the middle of the day, or a voice on the other end of the phone to remind us that we’re not only missed but wanted. That we’re an essential part of the faith community, and that the church is open and accessible.
Gather together a small group of dedicated volunteers and ask if they’d be willing to give some parishioners a call to invite them back to Mass. Use it as an opportunity to remind them of the safety measures still in place, the practices that are now back (such as the Sign of Peace), and most importantly, to remind them that they are greatly missed. You may be surprised at how big an impact this small invitation can be.
Curious how other dioceses are calling back the faithful? Check out “Opening the Doors Wide”: How the Archdiocese of Detroit Is Helping Parishes Reopen & Reengage, and check out some resources they’ve created for parishes.