Characteristics of a Welcoming Parish Community
In his article Excellent parishes inspire excellent stewardship1 Scott Alessi discusses the traits of an excellent Catholic parish. A parish should:
- Be a missionary outpost, understanding the needs of the surrounding community and adapting its message to the specific people it is trying to reach.
- Scrutinise itself, to address what is and is not working and be able to make changes to its approach when needed.
- Have a habit of being that welcomes new people who will enjoy being a part of the lively parish community.
- Accept new people, regardless of where they are in their own faith journey and be forgiving of their faults.
- Be innovative in utilising Catholic tradition, not hindered by it.
- Take risks and not be afraid to make mistakes.
- Apply Church rules intelligently to their own situation.
- Have a long-term pastor who understands the parishioners and the community.
- Foster a special relationship between parishioners and the parish.
- Be at the centre of its parishioners’ lives, acting as a source of strength and encouragement for them to carry God’s message forward.
- Allow small faith communities within the parish that may better address specific needs of people with common interests.
- Encourage lay-people to use their talents to go above and beyond what is expected of them and increase their role in the church.
- Be committed to quality in choosing its staff, purchasing worship materials and assigning volunteers to the tasks that they are best suited to perform.
- Keep spirituality and prayer at the centre of all of their activity.
- Be a place where people can enhance their relationship with God.
1 Scott Alessi “Excellent parishes inspire excellent stewards”, in Catholic Spirit (Online Edition February 8, 2007, Vol 11, No. 49 http://www.catholicspirit.com/stories/2007/feb/0208stewardship.html accessed 14th December 2007)