Simon: Cromer and Sheringham is a parish with growing towns. We have many new housing developments in our parish and more are being built: Holt alone has three new developments. We realised that there were a large number of new people arriving whom we should be welcoming to the area and inviting to church. Some of them will be Catholics who will find their own way to us but there are likely to be others who need us to reach out to them.
People who arrive in a new town have moved for all sorts of reasons – some people will be looking forward to settling down by the sea, others are moving reluctantly. What is certain is that moving home is a new start for all of them. We hope that we can offer a new start spiritually as well. It might be that someone who is moving home is wanting to re-consider the way they are living their life. It may be that their previous experiences of the Church might not have been very positive. A new community is a new opportunity to reconnect with their faith.
Rebecca: One of the reasons Catholics stop going to Mass is because they move away from their routine and the community they know. How are you planning to help them return?
Simon: We are going to visit every new house in the new developments and deliver a leaflet which we have designed especially for new arrivals. We have included photos of our beautiful churches taken during Mass. People will see a warm prayerful Christian community. The leaflet suggests that people ‘Come and See!' We aren't trying to force people to come to church but we want them to know that we are waiting to welcome them if they join us.
We aren't going to just dump the leaflets through doors like the pizza delivery ones everyone puts in the bin. Each leaflet is an invitation and we want people to read it. We are going to be business-like about ensuring that we visit the right places. We are going to work in pairs to support each other and have prepared so we know how we are going to approach the task.
It's not just the team who are delivering the leaflets who are involved in this. This is a project for the whole parish and those who aren't venturing out with us can pray for us and for all those people who have moved here recently.
Rebecca: Why are you involved in this project?
Simon: I want to be involved in evangelisation. I want to share my faith and be a bit braver about that. It can be difficult to find the opportunity in everyday life. This parish project is giving me that opportunity. I've never done anything like this before. I'm pleased that the leaflet isn't trying to persuade people aggressively. I really hope that it will encourage non church-going Catholics to ‘Come and See’. It could be that people who aren't Catholics read the leaflet and then find an alternative church community. We will have given them all a chance to think about coming to church in Cromer and Sheringham.
The Cromer and Sheringham leaflet has been funded by a grant provided by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. If your parish is developing an initiative to reach out to non church-going Catholics and you would be interested in bidding for some money, please contact Rebecca Bretherton, Coordinator of the Diocesan Commission for the New Evangelisation on firstname.lastname@example.org
Pictured above are Rebecca Bretherton and Simon Mustoe-Arthur with the new invitation leaflet.