Bishops plea for parishes to reach out to lapsed Catholics this Christmas

Bishops plea for parishes to reach out to lapsed Catholics this Christmas Bishop Fintan Monahan
 Fitzpatrick and


Parishioners need to go the extra mile in reaching out to family and friends who are no longer practicing the Faith, bishops have urged.

Given decreasing numbers of people attending Mass in Ireland, bishops have said the laity need to be creative and original in bringing back those who have fallen away.

After the success of the December 7 ‘Mercy on the Mall’ initiative in Shannon’s Skycourt shopping centre – which saw the Sacrament of Confession being offered to passing-by shoppers – Bishop Fintan Monahan of Killaloe said parishioners have to encourage and welcome people at whatever stage of life they’re at.

“People will say they haven’t been to Mass in years, or they haven’t been to Confession in years and all of a sudden there they are in front of you and if you weren’t out in the mall it just wouldn’t have happened,” he said, adding that parents of non-practicing children should pray for their loved ones to come back to the Faith.

Dr Monahan stressed that Catholics in Ireland must be a “creative minority”, and never give up on the possibility, however remote it may seem, that family members and friends will return to the Faith.

Echoing these sentiments, Kildare and Leighlin’s bishop Denis Nulty told The Irish Catholic that all Catholics are “evangelisers” and must try their best to build bridges and invite people back to the Church. With the diocese’s ‘Reach Out’ initiative taking place this Sunday, where parishioners receive a gift at Mass – this year’s being prayer cards devoted to one of the Rosary’s Mystery of Light for themselves and family members or friends, Dr Nulty said we are all called to reach out and embrace those who no longer practice the Faith.

“We’re coming towards the winter, the Winter solstice on December 21, we’re very close to that now and these are dark mornings, dark evenings. People need that hope and the hope is got from that mystery of light, from the joy of the candle flickering,” the bishop said.

He added that even in times of hopelessness, parishioners should be persistent in bringing the Faith to those who have rejected it.

“I would say never give up on them. Never give up. Never close the door. Keep the light on – they’ll come home,” he said.

Bishop Phonsie Cullinan of Waterford and Lismore, who runs outreach event Light Fever throughout the year, also told the paper that conversions to the Faith can miraculously happen, and so we must never forget to pray “that something will touch them”.