All that is needed in practical terms is the support of the parish priest and at least one open-minded parishioner who has a minimum of an hour and a half to spare per week for up to 10 weeks a year. An initial meeting of the priest and this person with a Landings staff member clarifies a possible process for facilitating this ministry in the parish. A day-long training event follows which equips a group of parishioners to launch the ministry immediately.
A short list of requirements is given to a parish desiring training in advance of a training workshop which normally takes place in a church hall, Diocesan building, civic hall or school.
Facilities to show a dvd and use powerpoint are a bonus but not actually required. One person is able easily to co-ordinate equipment needs for this day for a small parish/organisation.
Training takes into account this possibility.
There is a process recommended to sustain the motivation of welcomers if no prospective returners arrive by week 3 of the first "run" of meetings. The rule is "keep going anyway!" Going on retreat together shortly after the end of a run of meetings is important. Experience has proved that not only prospective "returners" take time to get to trust a new ministry but "committed Catholics" do too! A "slow start" can allow time for this.
Yes — obvious outward signs of welcome — verbal and non-verbal — should be part of church fabric and life outwith church. A strong "welcome back" message is advisable on the parish website — a popular first port of call for those drawn back to church because of its anonymity.
Eye-catching, bright publicity in the church porch is important. Research shows that someone considering returning to the community is normally dipping in and out at the back of the church or other dedicated building. Publicity left lying about, especially during events such as weddings, funerals and baptisms can be effective. Sample pew cards, hymn book clips etc. are provided in the "Landings packet".
Returners themselves are the best ambassadors for this ministry. Their testimony given quietly in the midst of the commnuity - and publicly at appropraite times in church or in the wider community (e.g. meetings of those preparing to recieve the sacraments, school events, reconciliation services) affects powerful outreach.
This Spirit—led ministry is built on prayer support from the outset. Returning Catholics can be prayed for regularly in the bidding prayers at Sunday Mass. Suggestions for a range of options to encourage prayer are one of the resources offered at an initial meeting with Landings staff. Eucharistic ministers can request special prayers for this sector of our community during home visits, for example.
There is more than one thing! Landings' simple but radical new group operation method encourages everyone both to listen and be heard. This builds trust quickly. Shared group roles — "everyone taking a turn" - create a "level-playing field" among participants and discourage dependence on the small group. Confidentiality ensures the safety of all participants.
With prayer and gentle catechesis at the centre, participants grow in knowledge and faith in God together, which invariably spills into active demonstration in the faith community in all kinds of ways.
Landings participants' strong, informed, outwards-focused, "Christ centred" caring relationships and community action revitalises an organisation from the inside. Others respond.
The Landings packet is available for churches to purchase by a person authorised to do so, at the training workshop at a cost price of £60 for the resource and £60 for training, per parish.
See resources page for contents.