To help non-practicing Catholics make a spiritual journey
back home, parishioners of three Saratoga County parishes are presenting a
six-week series called "Catholics Returning Home."
Members of Corpus Christi in Round Lake, St. Edward the
Confessor in Clifton Park and St. Mary's in Crescent designed the program
to attract those interested in once again becoming active, practicing
According to Corpus Christi parishioner Rosemary Browne,
co-chair of the committee that designed the series, it's all about
"renewing their relationship with the Church."
"No matter how long a person may have been away from
the Church, or for whatever reason," Mrs. Browne said, "we want
them to feel comfortable and supported as they make that journey
She believes that the sessions are unique in the Albany
Diocese, adding: "They're based on 'Inviting Catholics Home: A Parish
Program,' published by Liguori Press for just this purpose."
According to Rev. Martin Fisher, pastor of Corpus Christi,
the idea for the program germinated about a year ago.
"We've wanted to do this for a while but couldn't
find a program that suited our needs," he explained.
The program at Corpus Christi started on March 25 with two
kick-off sessions designed to help people feel comfortable with themselves
and with others while seeking reunion with the Church.
The sessions dealt with such questions as "Are you a
Catholic who now feels separated from the Church?" and "Would
you like to feel at home again in the Catholic Church?"
The non-judgmental program is designed to recognize each
person's feelings and help them understand that they are not alone.
"Even if people are angry, we're just asking them to
give us a chance to listen to and address their concerns," Mrs.
Some of the issues addressed in the sessions include the
changes in the Church since the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s, the
Sacrament of Reconciliation, the Apostles' Creed and what Catholics
believe. A walk-through of the church building with an explanation of
fixtures and symbols was also held.
"Whenever members of a community do not participate
in the life of the community, they are deeply missed," Mrs. Browne
said. "The community is incomplete in their absence. These listening
and sharing sessions were designed to provide those returning to the
Church with a sense of support and love. Everyone is welcome, no matter
where they are from."
(The sessions, all at 7 p.m., continue through April
29. The group plans to repeat the sessions at least two times a year. For
information or to register, call 877-8506, ext. 215. The basis for the
program is available to any parish that wants to use it; see www.liguori.org.)