Hi, I need a community/A church that reaches out

In looking for a quote that I KNOW I've heard from Pope Francis about a Church that reaches out, I stumbled across a whole first-google page of articles that started with "Pope Francis reaches out to...(fill in the blank community)".

I love Pope Francis because he challenges me to be better, to be more like Christ. But I also get annoyed by him because who likes being challenged? Not me. I'd prefer to stay in my little hole of pride that says I've got it all together and CLEARLY, I'm doing everything right.

This is when my spiritual director or confessor or best friend would butt in and say "Hey, actually, no."

Anyways. Pope Francis quotes on reaching out:

"I wonder about ourselves, what is it that we ourselves do, what is within the church that makes the faithful unhappy? It’s that lack of closeness [to people]; it’s clericalism. Today, to be close means to reach out to Catholics, to seek people out and be close to them, to sympathize with their problems, with their reality. "


"I like to use the image of the field hospital: some people are very much injured and are waiting for us to heal their wounds; they are injured for a thousand reasons. We must reach out to them and heal their wounds."

Both from here.


"I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security." (Joy of the Gospel).

Pope Francis is always reaching out to people. going out to people.

I am not really into that. Say what you (or I) will: "I'm an introvert" "I don't know what to say" "I don't know how to start". I've used all those excuses before, because I am an introvert, am not the most eloquent person in the world, and often I'm not sure exactly where to start with people. But the thing is, God is still calling me to reach out. Outside of myself and all my excuses, and into the mess with both people I know and people I don't know.

So with that in mind.

Since September, I've been attending a large suburban parish that has at least a million things going on, 3 priests, like 6 weekend masses, and a school. I go to Sunday mass there most weekends and attend 6:30 am mass there on a handful of weekdays.

And before I go on, I'd like to say I'm not trying to point a finger at anyone in particular and say that the parish has FAILED. All in all, there are a lot of good things going on at the parish. But I feel like we as a church have forgotten the art of personal invitation, of reaching out. I think that a lot of times, we put up these programs and expect people to show up, without taking into account that most of the time, the reason people come to things, is that they were invited by someone they knew.

So, I guess what I'm trying to say is, in the 5ish months that I've been attending the parish I'm at, the people I've met have been 2 of the priests. It's a double edged sword, though. Because I could reach out. I am aware that churches always need help with youth groups and young adult groups and catechism teachers and all this other stuff. But right now,  I'm volunteering at two different parishes both 45 minutes from my apartment because someone who I know who is there asked me if I would help.

I think this is pretty common for people my age, who don't have families of their own, and who no long attend mass with their parents and siblings. They are seeking out community, and they will go where it is offered, even if it is 45 minutes away. That's how badly I, as a young adult, want to feel apart of a community. I want to walk into mass and know people, hug others at the sign of peace, and stay after mass and chat over donuts and coffee.

It could be said that that is our problem as young adults, every parish has needs, and if you reached out to the parish near you, you could be engaged there.

But that's the whole point I'm trying to make here.

Yes, it's a two-way street. Yes.

But the Church is there to reach out. Reach out to the young adults who are dying for a community and finding it in other places, places that aren't building them up in Christ, but rather tearing them down. Reach out to those people who are returning to church for the first time in years. Reach out to those teens who want authentic relationships so badly, but keep looking for them in their schools and can't seem to find them. Reach out to those new parents, or not-so-new parents.

The hard thing about the Church is that when you talk about the "Church" as a whole, you aren't just talking parishes or buildings. You are talking you and I, the people who make up the parishes, who fill the buildings. But you and I? We know. A lot of the people that fill the buidlings and pews, don't know. They don't know about the love of Christ that is supposed to drive us to reach out, invite, say "Come and see", like Jesus did. But you and I? We know. And so, we are responsible to be that Church that is bruised, hurting, and dirty.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, when you go to mass this weekend, find someone who looks new and say hello. Or reach out to that family that you only sort of know. Or, I don't know, invite some kid to youth group.

And I will do my best to do the same thing.


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