It is true there
is power in a personal invitation. Two weeks ago
there were only nine people signed up from three parishes for the Hundredfold:
A Guide to Parish Vocation Ministry workshop. To say the least, I
was nervous that this workshop was going to be a flat-out bomb.
Hanson, the Administrative Assistant for the Offices of Stewardship and
Vocations laid a list of names and phone numbers on my desk for parish
stewardship committee chairpersons and Spiritual Mothers. I got the hint! I
started to call everyone on the list, as well as priests, and then even some of
the different Knights of Columbus members in our diocese.
When it was
all said and done, we had 75 people who attended the Hundredfold workshop; 32
that went to St. John the Evangelist in
Ft. Pierre and 43 that went Our Lady of the Black Hills Piedmont. They represented 26 parishes. It
is true. There is power in a personal invitation.
these people and personally inviting them to the Hundredfold workshop took a
lot of time and energy. A blurb in the parishes’ bulletins, an ad in the West
River Catholic, an invitation in my weekly musing or even a letter to every
pastor simply cannot compete with a personal invitation!
Gruenewald, a convert to the Catholic Church and the author of the book Hundredfold, did not even know what the
word vocation meant four years ago. She and her husband were invited to attend
a meeting at her parish St. Cecilia in Houston, Texas. Her parish priest, Fr.
Victor Perez, personally called her and asked if she and her husband would
attend a meeting about “priests and such”. She and her husband accepted the
invitation and her life has never been the same.
It is true there is power
in a personal invitation! Just ask Rhonda who is now the author of a published
book, has appeared on EWTN and travels the country inspiring priests and laity alike
to build parish vocation committees as a way to create a culture of vocations
in our parishes. All of this because she
said yes to a personal invitation to come to a meeting about “priests and
It is interesting to
note, in his book “The Unchurched Next
Door”, Thom Rainer says that only 2% of church people ever invite someone
to church and eight out of ten
unchurched men and women said they would come to church—if only someone would
invite them. Rainer says: “it’s not clear what we’re afraid of: 82% of the unchurched are somewhat likely
to go if someone would just ask them. It’s like a middle school dance.
Everybody wants to dance, but nobody wants to ask.”
Fr. Mark’s Musings
Several weeks ago, I
heard this story about a young family who is desperately trying to get more
involved in the life of their parish community in New Orleans. The story goes
something like this, and as you read it, keep in mind the saying: three strikes
and you’re out.
parish was advertising that they needed more adorers for perpetual adoration.
She and her husband prayed to the Lord about answering this invitation. In the
end, they felt like the Lord was inviting them to say yes. So they decided to
accept the invitation from the pastor and were really quite excited to be
spending time with the Lord in the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. When
she called the parish secretary to sign up for an hour of adoration each week
from 6:00 PM to 7 PM, the secretary found out that this young mother would be
bringing her eight-month-old with her. The parish secretary said that would not
be possible for her to sign up because they don’t allow young infants or
toddlers during the hours of perpetual adoration because they do not want to
disturb the silence of others praying in front of the Lord. Strike one.
really caught them off guard and they were quite hurt by it all, which made
them even more hesitant to offer their help to the parish again. However,
several months later another opportunity in the parish arose. They were looking
for people to help clean the church. Again she and her husband prayed about it
and felt the Lord was inviting them to say yes. So she called the parish again
saying that she and her four-year-old boy would be willing to help clean the
church. She told the parish secretary that my four-year-old loves to dust. The
parish secretary said that she could not volunteer because the parish does not allow
young children to clean the church even with parent’s supervision. Strike two.
I heard this story, I was shocked by such inhospitality. The story of how Jesus related to the children
in the Gospels came rushing to the forefront of my heart. People were bringing
little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples
rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to
them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the
kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone
who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter
it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them
and blessed them (Mark 10:13-16)
do you think about the latest statistics: 6.5 people leave Catholicism for
every 1 that joins, 50% of young people who are raised Catholic are no longer
Catholic today, 79% of former Catholics leave the church before age of 23? I
wonder if we are losing our people, especially our young people and young
families, because of a lack of hospitality and an unwillingness to welcome all into our midst.
diocesan stewardship initiative began first with generous hospitality. We need
to get this piece right before we can begin to invite people into lively faith and
Fr. Mark’s Musings