A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Archive for the ‘Parish Activities’ Category

With a bit of chaos in my life right now, I find it can be hard to see other people’s problems since I’m feeling overwhelmed.

As Christians, we’re called to do exactly that—to see others’ needs and help meet them, to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15*).

We may find we see and try to minister to the needs in our community and beyond but fail to see the needs in our own family.

Shen Yun

Working hard at trying new activities and attending different events with my son.

We have to remember that, when we get married or become parents, our focus has to shift from me to us. No longer do we get to think only of our preferences about where we live and work, how we balance our home and work lives, or how we’d like to spend our free time; instead, we have to think about how these choices will affect our spouse and children.

Today, we focus so much on ourselves as individuals that we struggle with this shift as a society:

  • Parents work long hours to advance their careers or pursue hobbies with the same intensity they did when they were single, and they miss out on time with their children.
  • Many children do extracurricular activities five nights a week, meaning family meals may be rushed or everyone eats at different times.
  • Some of us are so caught up in community or parish activities that we’re too busy for family time.

That’s not to say that using our talents in our jobs, relaxing through hobbies, or taking part in the life of our parish are bad things. Far from it. But do we think too much about the me (what I want to do, what my goals are, what would make me happy) and not enough about the us (how our family is affected by our choices)?

As summer gets closer and we push the pause button on school and extracurricular activities and, just maybe, work slows down a little, the time is right to look not only at where we’re headed as individuals but at where we’re headed as a married or an engaged couple or as a family—and to ask God’s guidance in seeing where we need to make changes and in transforming our lives as a result.

(*Scripture quote taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, 2nd Catholic Edition.)


When talking about a task we truly enjoy, we might describe it as a labour of love—something we’d do even if we weren’t paid for our work because it brings us pleasure.

For one person, that task could be designing and building furniture or a garden; for another, cooking and baking; for yet another, caring for children or grandchildren.

For how many of us would that task be an act of service to our parish, such as serving as a lector or Eucharistic minister, or to our community, such as volunteering at the local food or furniture bank?

What put this in my mind? The other day, I read these verses in 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3*:

We give thanks to God always for you all, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

If our work in our parish or community isn’t a labour of love, are we serving in a position not suited to our skills and abilities—possibly something we agreed to do because no one else stepped forward or we were “voluntold” to fill the role?

Years ago, I served as an usher and greeter at the church I attended. I wasn’t suited to the role and didn’t enjoy serving. But when I had the opportunity to act as a lector, I felt very much at home. I still enjoy serving as a lector and, for over a year, as a Eucharistic minister; I feel blessed to serve my parish in this way and as though I’m in the right place.

If we’re not sure what the right place is for us, we can talk to our parish priest or to the leaders of a community organization we support to find out where there’s a need for volunteers and try different roles on for size, as well as pay attention to those times when we see someone else serving and think, “I’d like to do that.” In fact, that’s what started me on the path to helping serve Communion.

I pray that, if we’re not already serving in our parish or the wider community, the Holy Spirit would guide us in discovering just what our labour of love would be.

(*Scripture quote taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, 2nd Catholic Edition.)

As a campaign volunteer and someone interested in politics in general, I’ve noticed some things over the course of the election:

  • animated discussions about parties’ policies
  • the readiness of volunteers to take on tasks such as door-to-door and phone canvassing
  • supporters’ willing participation in open houses and rallies
  • the camaderie among volunteers

We could use some of this energy and enthusiasm in the Church. Just think about these questions:

  • In parishes that have tried to run information sessions on natural family planning, for example, or a discussion on the Church and families, did just a handful of people show up?
  • How readily do people attend or volunteer at parish ministry fairs or agree to serve on committees?
  • When a parishioner is unable to serve at Mass, do others step up to help willingly or grudgingly?
  • How many parishioners attend parish social events such as coffee hour after Mass, potluck suppers, the parish picnic, or trivia or movie nights?
  • How welcoming are we to newcomers and visitors? Do we say hello, make room in the pew, and answer questions about parish activities and service opportunities? Do those in the congregation seem glad to be at Mass or look like they’re going through the motions?

My son and husband at a youth ministry event

I know that families today are busier than ever with work and after-school activities, but what does the future hold for parish churches where volunteers are often in short supply, where youth and adults alike may be warming the pews, where there may be a flurry of activities but not a lot of passion for running or participating in them?

Maybe it’s time to look at our talents individually and as a parish to see where our skills lie and how they can best be used. To consider new ideas for parish activities that appeal to singles and families, youth and seniors. To move out of our comfort zone to attend Mass on a weekday, during the evening, or at another time on Sunday; to sit in a different pew; to really listen to the readings and sing the worship songs, joyfully if not tunefully.

Although it may seem that way sometimes, elections don’t come along every week, but Mass at our parish church does. Isn’t it time we discovered—or rediscovered—our enthusiasm for spending time worshipping and socializing with fellow parishioners?

Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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