Saturday, 28 June 2008

Getting newbies in the door

Yesterday, in the light of the bishop's campaign to evangelise Australia, focusing particularly on lapsed Catholics, I posted on how to keep newcomers coming to the Mass once they make it thorugh the door.

Today I want to share some ideas for getting them to the Church in the first place!

There are three strands of this I think.

First, persuading your friends, workmates and family to come along. Things like social events, special event masses, choir concerts and the like (on all of which see below) seem to me to be the most likely way in.

Secondly, enabling those people who have at least some interest in the TLM already to hook up with you - websites, advertising and generally having a profile on your diocesan website is crucial here.

Thirdly, generating interest from those who haven't really thought about it.

First make sure people can find you

The bishops' letter to lapsed catholics may well touch some who will look for a Traditional Latin Mass. But will they be able to readily find it?

1. Make sure details of times and location of your TLM are on the diocesan website.

You may need to make nice to the webmaster.

I did a quick check on the major cities - Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane, Canberra.

Only Perth's was easy to find; Adelaide, Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney had something there if you looked hard enough at the list of parishes, but it was hard to find.

2. Have your own website and keep it up to date.

We live in a technological age. The first thing most people do when they want to know something is google it. And maintaining a blog or website is pretty easy these days.

So why doesn't every TLM community have a website?

And for those that do have them, why are they mostly so out of date?

My own view is that an out of date website is almost worse than not having one at all in terms of persuading people to come along. I won't name names (just yet!), you know who you are, fix it!

3. Make sure your entry on other TLM lists is up-to-date

There are a number of listings, including wiki missa. Check that yours is listed correctly. Most of the entries I found on a quick google were well and truly out of date. Although it is good to see that the Oriens listing now seems to be pretty up-to-date.

4. Consider advertising in the diocesan newspaper, student newspapers (especially in Orientation weeks at the beginning of the year), etc.

The value of special events

Some people won't come for ordinary masses - but they might be enticed in by special events. So advertise your solemn masses, especially if a bishop is coming. And find excuses to put them on!

For example, I assume many communities will do something special for the anniversary of Summorum Pontificum, either on 7/7 or on the Feast of the Exultation of the Holy Cross. Why not invite members of other parishes to come and join your celebration?

Social events

For some people, attending the TLM might be too big a first step. They may suspect we are all weirdos for example. But invite them to a trivial pursuit night, or a fundraiser of some kind, let them get to know you, and you never know what might happen....

On Chant and choirs

Gregorian chant is hitting the charts once more, so its an obvious thing to use to get people interested. Again, coming to Mass might be too big a first step - but a concert by your choir might serve as a bridge. Or have a small group singing chant somewhere conspicuous on your lcoal TAFE or University campus, with leaflets to hand out to those interested.

In fact advertising for choir members can also be an effective means of recruiting - but you have to then be willing to train those who turn up!

Chant workshops are another possible recruitment ground - have a read of the post at the Juventutem blog on the hindu gentleman attending the chant workshops currently running in Sydney.

They can also be a useful way of helping novus ordo communities upgrade their liturgy too - I heard a story from the same workshop about a small group whose previous exposure to chant was through videogames and Enigma, and who came because their priest wants them to sing the Creed in Latin. I think we can expect more of this kind of thing - see my previous post on this Can Gregorian chant be revived.

Seminars and workshops

I've been intrigued by the workshops for the laity on the TLM being advertised currently in the US. Sounds like an excellent idea to me!

The other alternative might be for your priest to give a talk as part of some diocesan series, or even put on a few sessions yourselves and advertise them widely.

1 comment:

Peter said...

Nice post. I concur with your thoughts, especially on the need for EF 'mass centres', almost always non-geographic, to be web & email capable AND up to date.