Landing back in the Church
Father Thomas Kane, CSP
The New Evangelization brings evangelization and reconciliation together in new ways. The New Evangelization emphasizes the renewal of the parish or base community with an emphasis on being disciples in mission––to proclaim the saving deeds of Christ by being a welcoming community. This evangelizing mission goes out to all members of the human family.
Landings, a Paulist program for returning Catholics, is an reconciliation process that helps the local faith community welcome inactive Catholics who want to take another look at the Church. Returnees are part of our Catholic family, and it is important to celebrate their sacred moment of return by giving them a “safe place to land.”
The ministry of hospitality connects to the work of reconciliation, of bringing healing to the Body of Christ, to being open and welcoming to those who are no longer part of the Church community. Welcoming returning Catholics is the focus of Landings. Through storytelling, compassionate listening and a process of learning again about the Church, the local church community welcomes returning Catholics with open arms. Reconciliation and healing takes time and the Landings program is just the beginning of a much longer process.
The New Evangelization is a challenge for the church community to look beyond its own needs and concerns and to look out into the "mission" field, as it were. Landings encourages a group of trained compassionate lay people to reach out to those cut off from the Church for any number of reasons, to reach out to those alienated or lost. Landings offers a safe place to tell one’s story and to find the way home.
Landings is both subtle and simple. Since 1989, the lay-oriented process has successfully brought returning Catholics back to active participation in the faith. Many Landings "graduates" go on to become some of the most active members of the community. The Landings process is also an enriching faith experience for active Catholics willing to help.
The harvest is plenty. According to recent surveys, there are almost 65 million Catholics in the United States, but of those Catholics only 36 percent attend Mass on a weekly basis. That means that over 40 million Catholics are potential Landings participants.
Landings welcomes those who are wounded, searching, and wondering. Landings has welcomed over 1.5 million people in the last twenty years.
Want to know more? Anna LaNave discusses Landings
Many Catholics have fallen away from the Church and are not practicing the faith for a variety of reasons.
“The year of Faith and the New Evangelization centers around re-evangelizing those in the West who are no longer practicing the Catholic faith,” explained Anna LaNave, director of Landings, a Paulist ministry of reconciliation.
“With two-thirds of all Catholics in the United States not practicing their faith, reaching out to inactive Catholics should be at the top of the Church's list,” Mrs. LaNave said. “Landings shows ordinary lay Catholics how to welcome back these Catholic brothers and sisters, and how they can evangelize simply by telling their own spiritual stories. They don't have to be a theologian to share their experiences of trying to live out the teachings of our faith. The returnees realize that all Catholics are not perfect, and that there is a place for them in the Catholic Church of the 21st century.”
Landings began 25 years ago, and to celebrate this milestone of ministry, Landings has partnered with Paulist Press for an October 2012 relaunch with all new materials “that will speak to the inactive Catholic of today.”
“We have also made it easier for a parish to start Landings by providing a new team training DVD, a 83 page Participant's Journal and marketing tools to help reach out to tech-savvy young adults,” said Mrs. LaNave.
Parishes purchasing an introductory kit and ministry certificate become part of the Landings community with access to consultation from a Landings expert as well as a newsletter and continuing education on new ways to draw returning Catholics back to your parish, Mrs. LaNave said.
For an additional introduction or to order Landings, see www.paulist.org/landings.