Welcoming the Anglicans should take a backseat to welcoming Hispanic Catholics. So says Paul Snatchko over at Between the Burg and the City.

I also think that, for the Catholic Church in the United States, the need to accommodate Anglican-Catholics is much less pressing than the need to better minister to the millions of Spanish-speaking Catholics. (I go to a lot of Catholic conferences. FYI, it’s not a British accent that I’m hearing.)

Paul makes a good point. In fact it’s so good that I came up with 9 more people that we should be welcoming into the fold BETTER and BEFORE the Anglicans.

1) Hispanic Catholics: As Paul said the church will soon be 50% hispanic. But it’s not fair to lump all hispanics into one demo. There are literally dozens of different cultural experiences that exist within hispanic culture. The Cubans express their faith much differently than the Dominicans do. The Mexicans are far different from the Puerto Ricans. Central Americans are different than South Americans and those from Spain are even more of a different culture. We haven’t come close to identifying how best to reach all of these different peoples. Instead we simply call all of them Hispanic and we start putting things out in Spanish. Now that’s not a poor start but we need to think more deeply about this.

2) Young Adults: Duh. Surveys show that even smaller amounts of Millennial Catholics in their 20s generally speaking, go to weekly mass than their predecessor 30 and 40 something Generation Xers. We don’t do a good job of engaging them into parish life or teaching them about the faith that most were poorly catechized into. I doubt that many have thought critically about where they see God working in their lives and there are oodles of unchurched people that we do absolutely nothing with that are hungering for meaning.

3) Married Couples: We run them through several hoops for a sacrament but don’t really do our best to a) make their day a special one, b) get to know them well or c) engage them in parish life. Many are marrying outside the faith and outside the church because they make it convenient for them. How do we engage and not be annoying so that they feel inconvenienced?

4) Teens: Sure we have youth groups, but how many of them know people in their parish? How many of them are asked to lector on a regular basis or provide a service for the elderly? How many of them can articulate where they see God working in their lives?

5) Pan-Asian Catholics: This is the second largest demographic and like the hispanics we have several differences. Those from the Philippines are quite different from those in China or Japan. There are loads of young people in Hawaii and Tonga and more of those island nations who mix their culture with their religion in beautiful ways that we forget about all too often.

6) Young Priests: Stop laughing. These guys are being thrown to the wolves. Young priests are poorly prepared for church management and some have little pastoral skills and come in feeling like they have to lord their priesthood over their parishioners. They get a quick wake up call and then reassignment is not far off. Young priests are raised to pastor much faster today and many don’t know the first thing about managing a parish. Which leads me to my next group…

7) Religious Women: Let’s face facts. If it weren’t for religious women, the church wouldn’t exist today. They’ve kept schools running and do much of the work in the parish that needs getting done. They haven’t been appreciated as much as they need to be. In my new parish, I’m not sure what they’d do with Sr. jeremy, one of our pastoral associates. She keeps so many items juggling in the air and makes it look seemless.

8) Bishops: Again stop laughing. Bishops are faced with much and like their younger priest counterparts many get raised to their Bishopric without being prepared to be a chief administrator. I think this is a huge reason that the sex scandal was so huge in the United States. These guys weren’t ready. Did they make huge mistakes? Yes. Should they be punished for that? Yes. But could those mistakes have been avoided? Most certainly.

9) Contemplatives: In a world filled with noise we crave the quiet and therefore the contemplatives amongst us should be revered as wisdom figures who have much to teach us. Go watch the movie Into Great Silence and then sigh at the beauty that is contemplative life.

10) THE PARISH SECRETARY/RECEPTIONIST/ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT: Whoever is the first line of contact for people who call us. This is the person that many form their opinion of our parish based on. And she or he does much to make the parish a welcoming place. We hope. When this position is not taken seriously, we end up in big trouble. I called a parish I was familiar with the other day and asked for a long time youth minister from the receptionist and he didn’t know who she was.
Do we take the time to train and make these people feel welcome?

There’s more but I’ll leave the rest to you…who else should we welcome?

0 thoughts on “10 Groups We Should Take Better Care of Before the Anglicans”
  1. Via Facebook: From Caitlin Czeh:

    I think the lay women should be included here. Just like the Women Religious, lay women do a lot to keep the church running, from being the parish secretary/receptionist/administrative assistant to being CCD catechists on Sunday mornings, to being Youth Ministers, Campus Ministers, and ministers within the liturgy. There are many men who also take on these roles, but they are treated differently than the women. The men are invited into the "Old boys network", while the lay women are left to cook & bake for them, and tend the children. I feel like lay women are looked down on, or ignored/forgetten more so than religious women because their committement also to their own family.

    The other group are single persons. The Church is great if you're a young person attending with your family or if you're a young adult in a married relationship. However, the Church can be a little silent toward those who are single persons."

  2. Via Facebook:

    From Aarti Rego:

    "I agree with all these. Besides, the numerous parishioners who volunteer their time with the various parish events, activities and ministries should also be included.
    Sr. Jeremy does have many plates to juggle and shes always so cheerful."

    I think "your new parish" does a good job at making people feel welcome. I've always felt welcome here.

  3. Aarti–

    I agree wholeheartedly. Welcoming at St joe's is done very well. Laid back and friendly without being overbearing! A great example for all parishes indeed and a big reason why I chose to come here.

  4. Via Facebook:

    From Brandon Kraft:

    I wouldn't phrase it as "before Anglicans" as there's something to be said regarding how the needs of those ten populations are American vs global and the latest regarding Anglicans is looking globally. In either case, internally, those ten do need help. At the same time, making it easier for people (Anglicans) to be welcomed into the Church is good too.

  5. Brandon–I would say we need to welcome the Anglicans as well but we can't even do a good job of welcoming the people we already have! Are we able to really effectively welcome this new group without it looking like a media nightmare or confusing to the faithful? I'm not sure.

  6. Via Facebook: From Mary Moore:

    Couldn't agree more with Caitlin's statement. But also agree with Brandon's on the local vs. universality issues of the Church. However, Rome still can't explain itself out a situation where they will allow married Anglican priests but the regular clergy still do not have that option. Cheers from a single laywoman who has done a lot for the Church/parish through the years but feels under appreciated.

  7. As one going through "marriage prep," I don't feel any closer to my fiance than before. That people assume we'd only blow the same time/money on expensive flowers and decorations, so we should spend hundreds of dollars on those classes is insulting. I doubt I'm going to be able to afford a new dress.

    The classes cater to the lowest common denominator–namely twenty somethings who barely know themselves, let alone their partners. For people in their 30's, who've been out on their own awhile, the entire hoop-jumping that is pre-Cana is redundant, to put it mildly.

    I can honestly see why many couples get married outside of the Church. I'm seriously considering it myself.

  8. As someone who is #10 I appreciate your post.

    This entire list makes sense and you have given much food for thought here!

    It is my prayer that everyone who calls or comes by our parish feels the warm welcome of prayer, community and the love of Christ. Sounds lofty? You bet it does.

    I spent 30 years in the media business, traveled all over, ate in fine restaurants and had a lot of perks. I have never worked as hard as I do as parish secretary and I have never loved my work so much.

    The church is not a building or an institution – it is people. And we are many parts, all must be valued.

    I so love that you have contemplatives and young priests on here too.

  9. Anonymous:

    Sorry your experience has been lax with marriage prep. It should be an experience that helps you immensely and sadly in most places it is not done well at all.

    Know of my prayers for your marriage but stick with us…and if you drop me a line perhaps I can help find you a place that does it better than your present place.

    Mike "The God Googler"

  10. New parents — we baptize the children, then banish them with their parents to "cry rooms" where their experience of liturgy is fractured and distant, and just as importantly, where our experience of what it means to parent, replete with its joys and challenges, that mirrors our relationship with God is hidden from us.

    We welcomed a new baby today at Mass. Her father held her high above his head so we could all see her when the sacrament was complete. Will we be as delighted to see her when she is wailing next week? or dropping the kneelers loudly? I hope so!

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