I love our parish. I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and the recent posts from Calah, Elizabeth, Also Elizabeth, and Melanie have me reflecting on the simple things that our parish does well to build community.
My personal favorite: Catholic Date Night:
Once a month, a group of several couples puts together date night at the parish. For $10/person, you can show up on a Friday night, drop your kids off at the nursery, enjoy a really good meal, and talk to other people in the parish. There’s plenty of time for chit-chatting, and then we watch an episode from the Catholicism series. Then we talk about it, and then we get our kids from the nursery. So easy.
(I can tell I’m REALLY in need of a nice, relaxing evening because I was actually tearing up watching the video, which I think was made by Gabriel Castillo of Mediatrix Solutions and YouTube Film School for Catholics.)
Here are the components that make this event a great thing:
- free babysitting (or, well, babysitting is included)
- you can just show up, although an RSVP is preferred so that there will be enough food. If you are going to use the babysitting, you have to RSVP a few days in advance.
- no outside commitment or preparation is required
- the food is good, although honestly you could hand me a PBJ at the door and I’d still be there with bells on if you let me drop my kids off at the nursery.
- while there is a faith-building component to the evening, it’s also set up to allow you to just visit with other people in the parish and talk about football or wine or whatever
- Speaking of wine– just sayin’.
- no forced sharing
The parish also has a thriving moms’ group that meets regularly, although I can’t really speak to that because I never go. It’s mainly geared towards moms with younger children. There are regular mornings of reflection for women in the parish, again with free babysitting. And again, you don’t have to do anything beforehand to prepare; you can just show up.
The parish is not stingy about letting groups use the facilities. This is a big one. I’ve been in parishes where you had to go through extensive paperwork and clear various levels of bureaucracy just to have a meeting in one of the rooms. In contrast, we’ve been able to use parish facilities for homeschool family get-togethers and other events, and it was as simple as calling up the office to see if there was space available.
There are lots of other things I really like about our parish – the music is wonderful, the congregation is very diverse, the pastor is tolerant of eccentricities such as children yelling “SCAPULAR?! What’s a SCAPULAR?!” during a home blessing. But I think the main thing is that it doesn’t feel like the only way anything will get done is if we ALL pitch in and everyone brings a dish and calls five people and reads these chapters. It’s okay to just show up.
I’m in a “just show up” stage right now as far as activities. My business has taken off, which is great, but between homeschooling, work, and trying to keep the house clean enough that emergency personnel could locate us in a crisis – I’m spent. I’ve been That Person who dreams up and then coordinates five different activities, and right now – I just can’t. But I can show up!
I feel a little guilty even writing that, because I’m sure that most of these wonderful things happen because the same ten people make it so. But to those ten people, I say: thank you. Thank you sooooo much.
What does your parish do well? (dig deep, people)