Returning to the Church
People leave the
Catholic Church for a variety of reasons. Some storm out. Others
Returning to the Church may be something you or you
care-receiver wants to look into now but neither of you is sure how
to go about it.
step would be talking to a local priest. How do you find him? Check
the phone directory and call the parish in your area or your loved
one's area. Or contact the central office of your diocese and based
on your care-receiver’s address you will be referred to the correct
parish. You may want to attend Mass there a few times and introduce
yourself to the priest in person.
parishes, the days of visiting a priest by simply knocking on the
rectory door have passed. The current shortage of priests means
parishes that used to have two, three or even more priests assigned
to them may now have only one. Or may not even have a priest in
surprised if you get an answering service if you're calling at some
time other than business hours (yes, business hours). Most likely
you will be asked to leave your name and number and a brief message.
Even during the day, you may need to leave a message with the parish
feel very awkward, especially if you're not really sure why you're
calling in the first place. If you're not really sure this is
something you want to pursue.
enough to simply say, "My name is . . . . I'm interested (or "my
care-receiver is interested") in finding out about returning to the
Church." Or "I have ("my loved one has") some questions and would
like to talk to a priest." You might also add what time of day it's
easiest to reach you.
you expect when the priest returns your call? Someone who wants to
help you. Someone who would like to warmly welcome you back.
won't you get? Accusations designed to make you feel guilty. A
scolding. A cold shoulder. A sales pitch for a monetary contribution
to the parish. A demand that you—on the spot—make a firm commitment
to return to the Church.
loved one is homebound or in a hospital or nursing home, the priest
(or pastoral minister) will come visit her there. He'll answer her
questions and, if it's been a while since she's been an active
Catholic, he may briefly explain what changes have taken place in
the Church and why they've happened.
care-receiver just wants to talk. That's fine. If he wants to go to
confession (and it’s a priest who has come to visit), he'll be given
the opportunity to do that and to receive the Anointing of the Sick.
A priest or an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist can give your
loved one Holy Communion.
understandable if your care-receiver is (or you are) nervous about
this. But there's no need to be afraid. It may help to remember the
priest is there to help you and your loved one. Certainly one of the
great joys of his vocation, his ministry, is this very thing:
Welcoming back someone who has been away for a time. It's helping
that person better prepare for an eternal homecoming.