How best to bring back a Catholic

Landings in Burlingame

Jan. 23 Landings meeting at Our Lady of Angels (Photo by Nicholas Wolfram Smith/Catholic San Francisco)

The following comes from a Jan. 31 story in Catholic San Francisco.

Nearly every Catholic knows a former Catholic. According to Pew Research Center, about 13 percent of U.S. adults said they were raised in the Catholic Church, but no longer identify with it.

How the church can respond to this mass exodus of members has been an ongoing topic of discussion. But one Burlingame parish ministers to disconnected Catholics by offering them the opportunity to discuss their concerns in a small group setting.

“Landings,” an international Paulist Fathers ministry started in 1989, is a discussion-based program led by laity at Our Lady of Angels Parish. It is designed to help people who have drifted away from the church or who attend a parish but feel disconnected from their Catholic faith.

“It really felt like home, like a safe place to be vulnerable about your fears, about the Catholic faith,” said Viennelyn Copero, who went through Landings two years ago after a long period of spiritual searching.

Copero told Catholic San Francisco she had grown up Catholic but left the church in college, feeling that she was not being “spiritually fed.” At other Christian churches, she found communities she liked but that ultimately left her feeling unsatisfied. A flyer at Our Lady of Angels told her about Landings, and led her back to the church.

Capuchin Father Michael Mahoney, Our Lady of Angels’ pastor, said people in Landings feel free to discuss their past experiences.

“They can voice their opinions or doubts without feeling they’ll be reprimanded for expressing what they know or feel.”

Father Mahoney added that many participants felt they left “a rigid, rule-bound church” and were surprised “they were able to express their views, even views struggling with dogmas of the faith.”

He added that “even if they cannot embrace the church and all its teachings and doctrines fully, they’re still welcomed. And sometimes that’s a revelation to them.”

The Landings program lasts for 10 weeks, with each meeting focusing on Catholic themes and questions. Early sessions discuss “Who is God?” and “Why follow Jesus?” while later sessions cover such topics as the sacraments and Catholic life….

Comments

  1. Commentator says

    Psychobabble!

    • Really? What’s your success with bringing back lapsed/former catholics?

      • Commentator says

        Very successful. I brought myself back. I didn’t join any discussion groups. I got on my knees instead. This stuff is all psychobabble. What’s your success in this area? We’re told to pray. Mary has urged the Rosary everyday. That is sufficient. She doesn’t lie. Why do you question Her?

  2. This is only one aspect of the problem. What about people who still identify with the Catholic Church but are heterodox (including some clergy)? Or is the Church only concerned about numbers in the pews, dollars in the collection plate, but not authenticity of faith?

    • It might surprise you to learn that absolute orthodoxy is not a requirement of being a Catholic, or even for participation in the Sacramental life. That confusion is one reason people leave the Church. The requirement is that the faithful are “docile” or “teachable” about what the Church teaches. Participation in a program like Landings is demonstration by itself that the person is teachable.

      • Steve Seitz says

        Anonymous,
        I appreciate the distinction. The issue is one of pride versus humility. For the longest time, I had issues with most of the Marian dogmas. While I had difficulty accepting them and was very suspicious of them, I also never dissented from them either.

        Happily, I do accept them today, although it took a few decades.

  3. helen wheels says

    Paulist as in “St. Paul?”
    or, as in “appalled?”

  4. No program will be right for everyone but if it brings one person back it is doing the Will of the Lord.
    Prayer is the best way to bring people back. Especially the Rosary and Chaplet of Mercy.

    • Your are right. Some need a “hell fire” sermon, and some like bruised reeds, need gentleness. Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom pray for us. Lord give us the wisdom to know the difference and how to use it..

  5. Growing in the Catholic faith is a process. Action directed toward the good of others and caring for the beauty of His creation, not only intellectual assent, is what Our Lord asks of us.

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