Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Ideas to boost Mass attendance?

Our number one goal at the Newman Center this year is to increase Sunday Mass attendance among GW Catholics. We are doing a lot to meet that goal with advertising in the school newspaper and online throughout the fall semester, hanging a banner at the Center regularly, asking students who attend Mass to invite their friends and roommates to join them, electronic advertising via email, Facebook, and Twitter, and continually inviting those who visit the Center to attend the student Masses. Soon, I will be offering room blessings to anyone who is interested; this will be a good way for me to meet more students and to promote our Masses. Any other ideas that you might have?

I have confidence that our Mass attendance will increase as the year goes on, especially as more people learn about and are invited to the new 10 pm Sunday Mass. This past weekend we had a fair turnout at our Opening Masses: about 200 students at the student Masses and about 100 students at other Masses at St Stephen's. While this is an improvement, it is still only a little over 10% of GW Catholics.

Two things: One, I am very happy that 300 of our students attended Mass this weekend. Two, this is not just about numbers, it's about souls. If almost 90% of (about 2000) GW Catholics missed Mass, then that is a lot of souls in danger. Every GW Catholic needs to be at Mass every Sunday in order to keep God's commandment ("Keep Holy the Sabbath") and to have eternal life through the Eucharist ("whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life" - John 6:54). Someone who misses Mass puts him/herself at risk, as Jesus says: "unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you" - Jn 6:53)

The most important thing in life is to get to Heaven. We need to be at Mass to get to Heaven. As the shepherd of souls here at GW, it is my responsibility to get GW Catholics to Heaven. So, then, it is my responsibility to get them to Mass. Can you help me?

Specifically looking at the ad in the school newspaper and website, I could use ideas for a line for the ad. The ad currently is next to the Sudoku game and justs lists the Mass times. We should have a creative and alluring line next to the Mass times. Your ideas are welcome; here are some of mine:

- Wanna go to Heaven?
- Wanna see a miracle?
- God's love in the flesh
- KnoW Mass, KnoW Heaven
- "Come to me and I will give you rest" (Mt 11:28)
- Come to Mass, for Christ's sake


Anonymous said...

I'm Episcopal, but I've always been intrigued by the Catholic mass, and I've always wanted to attend one. The reason I personally have yet to attend mass is that I don't know what I'm expected to do, when I need to stand or kneel, what prayers I need to know, and other things like that. Is Catholic communion different from Episcopal communion? I'm afraid I'll make a faux pas.
Maybe if there were a "Beginner Mass" in which people who've never been to mass can learn what to do, people like me will be less intimidated.

Anonymous said...

"free doughnuts"

Anonymous said...

i like "come to Mass, for Christ's sake" with a *short* blurb underneath explaining that Christ gave everything to us so we can give Him at least one hour a week.
Another slogan idea: You Owe Him an Hour. or "A Lifetime in Heaven is Worth an Hour a Week." or "The Best Hour You'll Spend All Week."

Michele said...

I really like the "Come to Mass, for Christ's Sake!" one - it's very eye catching and made me and even my (non-Catholic) roommates laugh. Additionally, it's true. I think having a funny saying could help a lot and at least grab people's attention. The best one I've ever seen was at the German Methodist church on 20th&G - "If you think waking up early on Sundays is hard, try rising from the dead."

Anyway, I agree that making a handout of "Catholic Mass for Beginners" could be helpful that gives an outline of the mass, prayers, dos and don'ts, etc. I'm new to Catholicism and have been coming to Mass for a year now and still don't have everything down. If there was flyer maybe available at the Newman Center/at St. Stephens before NC masses that would probably alleviate a lot of the anxiety non-Catholics often feel when coming to Catholic mass.

Anonymous said...

2:37 pm anon:

A couple thoughts come to mind. Talk to a friend that attends Mass and ask if you can join them the next time they go. If you don't know anyone, head over to the Newman Center and talk to Fr. Greg, a.k.a. "FG." I guarantee he'll put you at ease - especially if you're a Redskin fan! He loves an inquisitive mind. He'll get all fired up about Catholicism (and the 'Skins) and you'll want to come back dressed in maroon and gold. Don't EVER talk about the Cowboys.

In Mass, sit where you feel comfortable - there is no need to feel like you have to sit towards the front - Catholics NEVER sit up in the front pews. Dress respectfully. If you're nervous about the standing up, kneeling and sitting down routine just follow the crowd and listen to what is being said. I can pretty much guarantee that there might be people in the pews going through the motion and not understanding why. I was one of them. Hit the internet and goggle your questions - there is a wealth of information out there; however, as with anything, be cautious as you read b/c not everything will be accurate. Use the references listed on the Newman Center's website to get the more respectable and trustworthy links. Going over the readings before Mass might be helpful. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (http://www.usccb.org) has the daily readings posted.

When it comes to Communion, Anglicans may consider themselves Catholic but I'm not so sure Catholics consider them Catholic. The split in thoughts goes way back. Not to worry. Here's a tidbit concerning Communion that might make you feel comfortable.

During Communion, make a "spiritual communion" instead of receiving sacramental Communion. To do this, simply talk to Jesus like you'd talk to a friend. Tell Him where you're at in life. Let Him know your thoughts and curiosities. Simply be in His presence and don't worry. He'll take you just as you are - the good, the bad and the ugly - that's the beauty of it all. You will receive graces from this spiritual communion.

A great prayer follows. Modify the areas that you're not quite sure about. Remember, Jesus Loves You. Ask yourself where you stand in your love and knowledge of Him. He is patient and wonderful! Enjoy and trust. He'll hold your hand the entire Mass, even if you're not sure of when to sit or stand! He is patient, He is AWESOME!

Act of Spiritual Communion
(Saint Alphonsus Maria de’ Liguori)

My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Blessed Sacrament.
I love You above all things and I desire You in my soul.
Since I cannot now receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart.
As though You were already there, I embrace You and unite myself to You;
permit not that I should ever be separated from You.

Anonymous said...

Probably not appropriate for the blog, but, I couldn't resist. I'll blame it on the devil.

Personally, I enjoy "Get to Mass, for Christ's sake." It's catching, makes a very good point, easy to remember. Here's another classic, straight from your light hearted yet reverent mind that guided St. A's Monday night BS.

You mentioned that you'd get a kick out ending a Mass with a jaw dropper; "The Mass has ended, go in peace to love and serve the Lord. Now...... get the flock out of here!" Here's your chance. How about; "Wanna Get to Heaven?......Get the flock to Mass."

Enjoy the kids. They are your flock to guide.

Anonymous said...

Food after is always a good draw.

To the 2:37 Anon. Go, sit in the back and just watch what everyone else does. Here is a guide to the Mass that may be of help: http://www.catecheticalresources.com/docs/TreasureofMass.pdf

Because you aren't Catholic you can't receive communion, it goes to the Catholic belief in the Real Presence and the split between the Anglican Church and the Catholic Church during the reign of Henry VII I don't want to fill the com box or I would end up giving you the first half of my Eucharist paper for my sacraments class (Different University obviously). But you can make a spiritual communion as someone else mentioned.

Matt Shoemaker said...

I vote for the KnoW Mass, KnoW Heaven one.

Anonymous said...

got God? get to Mass!

Mass is awesome, all are welcome; and donuts w/socializing afterwards sounds good. Another thing to keep in mind (if not too self conscience) if not receiving Communion you can still go up w/hands across chest to recieve a blessing.

Anonymous said...

don't be afraid of maing a faux pas; God loves you and just wants to be loved back as i am sure you do.

Anonymous said...

"Upward, Inward, Outward"

I'm not affiliated w/GW, so my 2 cents are really worth a fraction of a penny- but "For Christ's Sake" is a saying used often inappropriately. Sayings, especially religious ones, with an implied double entendre can smack of disrespect- even if it is eye-catching and funny.

Also- very corny, but there's a tiny, tiny church by my house that has had a sign outside forever. It says, "CH_ _CH What's missing? UR"

On the topic of speaking disrespectfully- my kids are reprimanded when they use certain phrases. "Oh my God" is one of them. In the car the other day, my son said it and I looked at him. Knowing I heard him, he closed his eyes, looked up and said, "Have I told you that I love you today?" How's that for a smooth recovery?