The Benedict Bounce

Everyone is talking about the Benedict Bounce. The term was first used, it seems, by Cardinal Keith O’Brien at Oscott College, during his speech thanking the Pope at the end of his visit. It refers to  the positive after-effects of the Papal visit. The pages of the Facebook Papal visit group have been buzzing with all kinds of wonderful stories about people whose faith has been enlivened, restored, enriched by this visit. I learnt today that in the past week the Facebook page has had 44,830 visits this week. The challenge for all of us will be to make sure that the bounce continues, that the impetus is not lost, that the momentum is maintained.

I wonder what it will be like for someone who has lapsed when they decide to return to active church participation. Will they find a welcome? How will they be encouraged to get involved in the life of their local parish? Will the RCIA programme be accessible to them? Are there other alternatives? One lady I spoke to today said it was up to the priests to identify the ‘newcomers’. I baulked a little at this, because surely it is up to the laity, as much as anyone. When I was a new convert, the priest seemed like a distant figure, and it was easy to avoid him. It was a colleague I worked with at the time who encouraged me to join in, and introduced me to her friends and relatives in that parish. After that I never looked back, but some people prefer not to get dragged into helping with the next Bazaar or Coffee morning.

What ideas do readers of this blog have to encourage any new arrivals in our churches, whether they are the lapsed who are returning, or non-Catholics who are enquiring? And what of the e-pilgrims, those who have followed the whole visit through cyberspace? How do we continue to support and encourage them?

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6 Responses to The Benedict Bounce

  1. John Brunton says:

    Simple if you see a new face at church invite them in and say hello and if they have any questions try to answer them

  2. Denita says:

    Don’t abandon new members once they are in the Church.. I felt this way once I was confirmed. Also, don’t forget the single members_especially the older ones- who may not have a vocation to religious life. I don’t mean single parents. I’ve never married. I fell away from the Church before because i felt unwanted. Encourage single members who may not be called to marry or become a religious.

    • anne says:

      Denita
      I have full empathy with your comment. I feel we need more ‘local’ vocation groups to help people to understand who they are in Christ and to come to a deeper undertanding anf appreciation of their vocational life. The word ‘vocation’ has meaning for all states of life. Where about in the country are you. Perhaps w could look at developing something further and linking into already existing sources of support and guidance.

  3. Sophia says:

    Today, a young man from China wondered into our church. It is not the first time. He appears to know absolutely nothing about anything but he is polite, friendly and obviously curious. Myself and a few others introduced ourselves and have invited him to come back, and have reassured him (as best we can, given the language difficulty)that he is not alone in a strange city but now has new friends.

  4. kscnewmanctr says:

    In our parishes we are running something called Welcoming Catholics Home (http://www.swnhcatholics.com/welcomehome.html) loosely based on the ideas presented by Catholics Come home (http://www.catholicscomehome.org/) and it depends very much on laity inviting lapsed Catholics whom they know. One means is that we have postcard invitations in the pews. All people have to do it address the cards, put on a stamp (or if they can’t afford that, drop the card in the collection basket and the parish pays the postage). We have found that many who have been away from the Church a long time have wanted to come back, but just needed an invitation.

  5. Michael J. Mullard says:

    Thank you for sharing these thoughts. The Church in Los Angeles faces exactly the same questions and issues. We are a vibrant, multi-cultural church that still seems to have difficulty welcoming people initially (at least at my parish). We have programs for Catholics who have left the Church and want to return, but they attract few. Our parishes here are so large that newcomers get completely lost in our liturgies and other events unless they seek to make themselves known in parish life. I’ve been blessed to have worked in the RCIA for nearly 20 years and have seen it grow but something still seems lacking in the rite as a whole. But, year by year we learn more about how to be welcoming and hospitable. Perhaps as always, the personal invitation, the warm greeting, the simple word of welcome and gentle hospitality are good first-steps toward building lasting relationships with those who are not united with us in faith.

    God bless the Church in the UK! May She be like the vine that bears abundant fruit for the Lord’s vineyard. Watching the Holy Father’s visit to your shores was a joy.

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