Step Up and Enjoy Parish Groups!
I am so happy since I joined this group!, a woman explained to me recently. Groups in any parish are very important, but many times parish groups struggle to attract members, and to be the most effective they could be.
Why is this so? Why do many parishioners not want to join a group? Is there still a place for the existence of parish groups or are they becoming extinct?
When I was young I thought that many of the groups in the parish were for older people, that one needed to be very spiritual before you could join them and at other times I felt like I just did not fit in with the group. I am sure some people still experience this today.
And given the lifestyles that we lead in these times, there are so many other things that compete for the time we have to commit to a parish group. However, parish groups are a valuable means of growing the Church and helping people in the Church. And here are a few reasons why:
First of all, there are many different types of parish groups and therefore this could cater for accommodating the interests of the different types of people within a parish community.
There are people who would like to express their faith by visiting and praying for the sick. Such people could join the Legion of Mary or another care group in the parish.
Then there are people who would like to teach and pass on the faith to others. These people could join a catechetical group or assist with RCIA.
Other people again are more practically minded and in addition to prayer, would like to do something practical, like taking food or clothing to the poor. The Saint Vincent de Paul society would welcome such people.
If again you would like to get involved with the social or economic problems people face in society, and you would like to assist them to overcome it, then a Justice & Peace Group or the Kolping Society is the place for you.
Get involved in one of these groups. You will see that parish groups foster close relationships and the experience of community.The parish group atmosphere is readymade for building friendships because the groups are small and it is easier to get to know people more closely than in a big parish setup.
Small groups, especially prayer groups, provide a comfortable entrance for inactive church members to re-enter parish life.Many times just inviting people back to church is not as easy as it sounds. People might have some degree of fear of doing this. That is a natural and understandable fear. Inviting someone instead to a prayer meeting is easier. So invite a friend to a small prayer group and lead him or her back to parish life.
Groups such as the Kolping Society and Justice & Peace find themselves dealing with the issues people face on a day to day basis, like poverty, unemployment and injustice. They interact with the lives of people right where they live, in their homes and with the family and they make the Gospel and social teachings of the Church a practical reality. Such groups create a context for Christians to live out their faith through tackling social issues.
Smaller parish groups provide a comfortable atmosphere for openness.Many times such meetings take place in peoples homes which are usually comfortable places because there are no pews, PA systems, and second collections. They are places where people can open up, listen, learn, and grow as people of faith.
Lastly, and this is no doubt my favourite reason, parish groups help to cultivate leadership within the Church.Parish groups are normally structured and someone has to lead the meeting, or at least facilitate the discussion. This is a great way to build up your meeting skills and how to handle groups.
This is very much needed in our parish life today; people who are faithful and committed and who have the ability to lead a group of people into action. This is a great way to build your leadership and the Church gives this opportunity to you today. Take it up!
So parish groups are not becoming extinct. Get to know them and find out which group interests you most. Ask if you can just visit and observe what they are about to see if such a group is for you. Parish groups are needed today just as always before and they can turn your parish into a vibrant Christian community.
Join a parish group today!