8 Ways to Become More Involved In the Catholic Church
As Catholics, we are called to build an active faith community. That means it’s important that we find ways to get involved with our local parishes. If you are new to an area, or haven’t been to church in a while, learning how to participate in church activities might seem scary at first. For a lot of folks, it can be a challenge to just find where to begin or the right person to help with your questions.
By the time you finish reading this article, you will have a game plan for how to bump up your parish involvement and learn how to participate in church activities.
1. Pray With Your Parish
The basis for every strong Catholic community is weekly worship at Mass. As Catholics, we each should be taking our families to Mass every Sunday and on Holy Days of Obligation.
I know that if you have fallen out of the habit of going to Mass, it can be intimidating to get back into the routine. Some newcomers have told me that they are concerned that regular Church attendees will stop and stare at them. Don’t worry – that won’t happen. Instead, you are very likely going to be welcomed with open arms or at the very least a friendly smile. Everything that we do at our parish must first start with strong regular Mass attendance. Once you’re regularly coming to church and attending Mass, this will help you identify the other ways you can get involved in parish life.
2. Be Part of Worship
Okay, great – now you’re back in the habit of attending Mass (good for you!). Now what?
Next time that you are at Mass, I encourage you to take a moment to look around and notice all the roles that help support the celebration of the Mass. For example – the lectors, ushers, choir members, the donation counters… the list could go on and on. Now ask yourself – where is God calling you to serve at Mass? Even if you don’t know all of the duties of a particular role, challenge yourself to learn more by either asking a person that is in that job already, looking at the Church bulletin or reviewing the Church website. Don’t worry if you are inexperienced. Your parish will want to train you up and is looking for eager people willing to learn and get involved in the parish.
It’s critical that you find ways to have your entire family serve at Mass. Don’t forget to include your children in worship service as well as altar servers or in the music program. Your children will want to learn how to get involved in church when they see your example of service. There is nothing more beautiful than when an entire family is serving during the Mass in a number of roles!
3. Go Beyond Worship
Mass gives us the spiritual strength to live our Faith each day through ministry work – don’t squander that strength! Many parishes have active ministries that you can learn about either through the church bulletin, the website, or social media. These ministries might serve the neediest in the community, help folks to develop their faith, or guide people to a number of ways to serve the parish.
Having run a number of parish ministries in my life, believe me when I say this, these groups will ALWAYS be eager to accept more dedicated volunteers. Getting plugged into a parish ministry is an amazing way to get connected into parish life and church activities throughout the week.
4. Go On a Retreat
Have you always wanted to go on a parish retreat but never took the plunge and committed to attending? I encourage you to sign up for the next retreat at your parish – you will be thanking me afterward.
A parish retreat can be a great way to strengthen your spiritual life and help with your networking within the parish. Retreats have a special way to break down barriers between strangers and can supercharge new friendships and relationships. I have personally made a number of strong relationships at parish retreats and those connections gave me the ability to get more involved at the parish overall.
5. Make Newcomers Feel Welcome
Congratulations – if you have been following these steps up until this point, you are probably getting more established at your parish. Now it is time that you “pay it forward” by offering newcomers a welcoming smile and some guidance on how to participate in church activities themselves.
Some of the best moments for me have come about when I spot a new face at a Church event and I made an effort to greet and introduce them to others at the parish. Not only is it the right thing to do to help grow your parish community but I promise you that you will feel great doing it. And who knows – you might even get a new friend!
6. Find Your Niche and Offer Your Experience
Remember, we all have been given gifts of time, talent, and treasure that we can use to better our parish communities and support our spiritual growth. Your unique skills and background can be critical for participating in church activities.
Do you have a special skill or ability that your parish might need? Perhaps you can utilize some of your professional skills for the parish to better get involved at church. For example, my friend is a financial wiz and has volunteered to sit on our parish council and manage the budget. It’s important work but for a number of people it would be boring – for my buddy, however, it is fascinating!
7. Start Something New
Are you not seeing a ministry that you think would fill a real need at your parish? Don’t be afraid to step up and volunteer to start a new church activity – you might be surprised that a number of other parishioners might be eager to join as well.
At my parish, a good family friend recently started a young mothers ministry as a way to better get involved at church. Being a mother of two active children (with one more on the way!) means that her days are filled with diaper changing, trips to school, cleaning up, and trying to control the chaos that comes with a young family. My friend wanted to connect with other Catholic mothers to form a support group to help get through challenging times but didn’t see a ministry that catered to that specific need at our parish. In under a year, that ministry has flourished with meetings throughout the month that allow women to socialize and better strategize on how to be good strong Catholic mothers.
8. Become a Missionary
We should all be very proud that we are part of the universal Catholic Church. That means our Church isn’t just the building down the street – it is the community all around the world. Missionary work across the planet can both change your life and the lives of those you work with in communities in need. There are church activities that need to get done all around the planet and missionary work is your path to help. Participating in these church activities abroad can be a wonderful way to gain fresh perspective and develop yourself spiritually as well.
Get Involved with the Catholic World Mission Family
I want to personally thank you for taking the time to read this article and showing interest about ways you can get involved more in your parish community. I will be praying for each one you as you get more involved in church activities. I promise you that the experience will change your life, the lives of your family members, and your community.
You also have the amazing opportunity to get involved with the universal Catholic Church by supporting our Catholic World Mission projects around the planet and praying for our team. I encourage you to take action now!
James Flanagan is the Executive Director at Catholic World Mission and is a devout Catholic with various nonprofit leadership recognitions. He has served close to 9 years in the Army where he had the honor to lead many successful teams in countries throughout the Middle East and Asia. James later worked in Senior and Executive corporate communications roles for Fortune 250 companies with an emphasis on Corporate Social Responsibility. He holds a BBA from the University of Georgia and a JD from the Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law.
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