The statistics are disheartening.
The St. Michael Pastoral Council recently read the book, Return: How to Draw Your Child Back to the Church, by Brandon Vogt. Shirley David gave one to each member asa summer reading gift. After reading and discussing the book, Pastoral Council members each decided to start praying for someone specific who had become disengaged with the Catholic Church. Many members prayed for more than one person. The council decided this good and important work should continue at our parish and be expanded into the St. Michael Return Ministry.
While formal meeting times and plans are still developing, the organic way this came about shows the movement of the Spirit calling back local Catholics to reconnect and live out our faith.
“It is our responsibility as Catholics to spread the Good News that God loves us and that there is a place for everyone in His Church,” Shirley says.
“The Eucharist is the source and destination for everything we do as Catholics, and the sacramental life of the Church is incomplete if some of our people have disconnected,” Deacon Sándor Hernández Morales says.
Group members will be asked to read Brandon Vogt’s book and each start praying for at least one specific person to return to the sacramental life of the Church. Additional activities will be planned based on recommendations in the book. “Return” will follow the example of St. Monica, who was able to bring her son, St. Augustine, back to the Church through prayer.
Deacon Sándor says this ministry also looks at ways to make St. Michael’s more welcoming. If we want people to come back, we need to be sure they have a positive experience and feel connected when they return.
“There is an introspective aspect to this ministry that challenges each one of us to work harder for the Kingdom of God to become realized right here at St. Michael,” Deacon Sándor says. “We want all who come here and anyone who has left or ever felt left out to want to return and stay. Once you are baptized, you forever belong to Christ and His Church. These folks are truly Catholics forever! We are hoping to make our church a welcoming place that they want to belong to. Their absence reminds us to work harder to be more like Jesus so they return and so no one ever wants to leave.”