An invitation to women who feel disengaged from the church

Kim Padan

By Kim Padan

On Jan. 21, The Catholic Post published an article from CNS discussing a survey of Catholic women indicating a high level of disengagement from the Church. As I read more details online, I felt both heartbroken and concerned. Even more, I felt compelled to reach out to my sisters in faith.

The survey, conducted in August of 2017, had 1,508 respondents who self-identify as Catholic. Of those, only 24 percent attend Mass weekly (just 17 percent of millennials.) This begs the question, which came first? Do women feel disconnected because they are not attending Mass, or do they not attend Mass because they already feel disconnected?

WAYS TO INVITE OTHERS TO “COME HOME”

As the Peoria Diocesan Council of Catholic Women’s Chair of Evangelization, I am always praying for new ways to reach out and encourage individuals and families to “come home.” Here are some thoughts.

  • If you are reading this, and you are part of that faithful 24 percent, it’s time to reach out! Personal invitation is perhaps the best way to get someone to attend anything, whether it is a Saturday morning brunch or Sunday Mass. Offer to sit with them, and take time to get to know them.

    The Church loves you and needs you! Let us know what is holding you back. You can email your comments to me at peoriadccw@gmail.com.

  • Do you see families struggling with small children at Mass? Be sure to commend them for being there so they don’t give up. Consider offering babysitting or starting a babysitting co-op in your parish so couples and single parents with young kids can get some time away for confession and adoration. (If you do this as a parish project, make sure everyone involved has completed the Protecting God’s Children program.)
  • When planning parish events, consider laywomen and women religious as speakers. Offer book studies that include biographies and writings of great women saints. This can be especially important for reaching teens and young adults so they recognize the role models we have in our midst.
  • Sign up to participate in our special summer event for Leadership Training and Development, offered by the National Council of Catholic Women. On Saturday June 23, all six dioceses of Illinois will be sending parish reps to our very own Spalding Pastoral Center. The training is designed for women already serving in parish leadership, as well as for future leaders in the making. We are so excited to be hosting! You can learn more by going to peoriadccw.blogspot.com/p/upcoming-events.html

GOD HAS GIVEN US A VOICE

If you are one of those women who doesn’t attend Mass or parish events regularly but you found this article, please hear me as I say the Church loves you and needs you! Let us know what is holding you back. You can email your comments to me at peoriadccw@gmail.com

This is my message to Catholic women: We don’t have to ask for a voice in the Church. We already have one because God has given it to us! This is not permission for defiance, but rather an invitation to dialogue, community, and prayer. As St. Catherine of Siena said, “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire!”

Kim Padan is president of the Peoria Diocesan Council of Catholic Women and serves as its Chair of Evangelization. She is from Danville and a member of St. Paul Parish.

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