There are a number of reasons why a person decides to join a parish. It could be because they will be participating in a sacrament like Confirmation, Marriage, or Baptism. Or maybe they just moved to the area. But a lot of times, we join a new community because we’re searching for meaning and purpose in our own lives. And the best way to find that is in community with one another at Mass.
We all want answers as to why we are here and what we were made for. We need to know that we matter and that our talents can be put to good use. That is why it is so essential to set the tone when someone makes the leap into your parish community. Like a family welcoming a new member, we need to be inclusive and hospitable to all who enter our doors. And a great way to do this is with a welcome packet.
Read on for reasons why your parish needs a welcome packet and the types of documents and information you need to include.
There is more to a welcoming packet than, well, a welcoming message. You also want to make this a source of helpful information they will come back to review whenever the need arises. Create attractive documents that include Mass and confession times, office hours, and staff contact information (such as business cards or a group sheet). If your parish offers online donations, you will also want to include instructions on how to easily sign up for one-time or recurring donations.
This packet is also a great vehicle for teaching people the basics of the Catholic Church. Think hand-outs for confession, FAQs, and definitions about Mass, a daily devotional, a blessed rosary with instructions on how to pray it, and/or a small bottle of holy water for their home.
2. Parish Swag
Don’t just encourage your parishioners to tell people they’re proud to be Catholic — let them show it, too! Consider throwing in some parish “swag” like window decals, Frisbees, T-shirts, hats, sunglasses, coffee mugs, water bottles, pens, and notepads. Some parishes even go the extra mile and encourage their members to actively promote the parish in their own neighborhoods.
Consider printing some parish lawn signs for people to take that promote the upcoming summer festival, fish fry, or even just Mass, Confession, and Eucharist Adoration times. You’ll want to include the website, a phone number, and other important information.
3. Parish Extracurricular Activities
Make sure to include additional ways they can feed their soul spiritually, such as the dates/times/locations of men and women spiritual groups, family activities, Hospitality Sunday, and Lent/Advent small group sessions. Don’t forget parish staples like the Friday fish fry and summer festival, Sunday pancake breakfast, and more. Ask that they save the dates, and then follow up later with a personal phone call or email.
4. Parish Invitations
Finally, we need to remind members that not only is the church there for them but also needs them. Invite them to lend their talents in whatever ways possible, whether that be as a greeter once a month, bringing the gifts up during Mass with their family, tending to the garden during the summer, or cleaning the inner church a couple times a month.
If they have experience with finance, invite them to join the finance council. The same goes if they have experience with marketing, or even food service to help with the parish fish fry. Not only do these many hands make light work, but it also offers a perfect opportunity to enter into community with one another.
Does your parish have a welcome packet? What kinds of things do you add to it?