Returners

Stories from Returners

22/08/2012 11:44 am

Holding a candle

You’re invited to read the true stories of people who have returned to the practice of their faith through the outreach efforts of Catholic parishioners in England and Wales. Please do email your own stories to your parish webmaster or newsletter editor to encourage and inspire others. 

HOME VISIT

When Lucy received a home visit she broke down and cried. She had stopped coming to church when she became ill and was now frail and unable to sit through a long Mass. Her visitors arranged for her to be taken to a quiet weekday Mass; that is now the highlight of her week.

CHRISTMAS PARTY

One parishioner met a non-churchgoing Catholic at a Christmas party and told her about the parish group. Within a few weeks this lady became actively involved in the small group meetings.

BAPTISM

Jill, a ‘resting’ Catholic since her teens, and Rob, who was not baptised, asked for baptism for their twin sons (to please Jill’s mother). During the Baptism Mass no-one from their family went to Communion. At the end of Mass the priest invited them to stand in the church porch to be welcomed by the congregation. They were so overwhelmed by the warmth of that welcome that they joined the RCIA and are now both active members of the parish and the Catholic school.

SMALL GROUP MEETINGS

“I left the church many years ago and have always felt a void in my life. The longer I left it the harder it was to return to the Church. I was on my own or so I thought. Through the small group meetings I was able to talk through my feelings and they gave me the support and confidence to return. They helped me to realise that I was never on my own, God was always with me. Without them I would still have that empty feeling inside of me.”

WELCOMED AND LOVED

“I can’t believe how much I ‘get’ from attending the KIT Meetings. I feel I am truly valued for myself, I also feel the KIT Group has no ’Agenda’ other than that of wanting to make me feel welcomed and loved, they do not ask for anything in return. I have come back to the Church and my life has changed.”

CRISIS POINT

An elderly lady had been away from the Church for 50 years. Following the funeral of a relative in a Catholic church, plus a ‘lucky’ escape in a car accident that could have been serious, she felt God was trying to tell her something. The following Sunday, she walked for the first time into the Catholic church of the town where she had lived for the past 30 years. Mass was being celebrated and, at the end, the congregation was told about a new parish group whose ministry was to reach out to and keep in touch with non church-going Catholics. She could hardly believe her ears and felt God had led her there on that particular day for a purpose. She joined the group’s weekly meetings and returned to the Church. Sadly she is now housebound, but receives Holy Communion with great joy, regularly at home.

SERVICE

Meg, a local council carer, longed to get back to church but struggled with ‘holiness’.

“Then, during a small group meeting, I learned that God was using my hands to reach out in love to the people I washed, dressed and cared for! I never saw my work like that before! That simple message has changed my life.”

LETTER + SUPPORT

“When we received the letter from our local parish telling us of a planned home visit, we felt like sleeping beauty waking up! With the help of the parish outreach programme, we not only ‘came home for Christmas’ but through its continued support system and bi-weekly meetings, we stayed home.”

ACCEPTED AND LOVE

"I was on the outside looking in, having turned my back on Catholicism ... From these meetings I have found that God's unconditional love has no bounds," wrote one returner, who later became a team member to help others on their journey.

If you’re considering how your parish might start a ministry and outreach team, please do reflect on how these stories might shape your planning.

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Preface

Bishops' Messages

Introduction

Stories from Returners

Video Testimonies

Forming a Parish Team