community Building a sense of community among the parishioners is a critical aspect of parish life. So important is it, that many parishes have a special group of people whose job it is to foster a better sense of community among the membership. This group is often called a parish life commission or committee. It works best to have six to nine people on this group, each with a three-year term. The scope of this community-building group includes these four areas:
  • Hospitality and welcoming
  • Parish organizations and groups
  • Recruiting and managing volunteers
  • Providing fun events and socials for the parishioners
The area of hospitality covers both the weekend liturgies, as well as welcoming newcomers into the parish. The parish life or community commission makes sure that a hospitality committee is formed to handle both of these areas so that every liturgy has a welcoming and inviting atmosphere before and after the Mass, and that any new person or family is contacted personally and welcomed into the parish. A second task of the community-building commission is to link together all the parish organizations and groups, including men's and women's clubs, seniors' group, young adults, divorced/separated support groups, scouts, to name but a few. The commission might call together all the heads of these organizations to set up the calendar for each year's events and to find ways for these groups to interact and even put on combined projects on occasion. The recruitment and care of parish volunteers is critical to building up a sense of community in the parish. It should be coordinated and given direction by a Volunteer Committee that handles the yearly recruitment of volunteers, does follow-ups to make sure those who volunteer are contacted and connected to a ministry, seeks out inactive parishioners and encourages them to become involved, as well as providing recognition for those who are active. It would be the task of the community commission to establish and monitor this important committee. Finally, community-building happens when people come together to have fun and celebrate their common bond to the parish. The commission might arrange for one parish social each month and establish organizing committees for each monthly event. Once a tradition of socials is established, it becomes part of the fabric of what it means to be a member of the parish community.  See Keeping the Covenant (Thomas Sweetser, SJ, Crossroads, 2007), pp. 219-230.   A sample of PEP Newsletters related to Community: How A Parish Began Having Fun Together Finding New Volunteers Multicultural Parishes A Culture of Hospitality