How A Parish Began Having Fun Together
A Service of the Parish Evaluation Project
How A Parish Began Having Fun Together:
The following is from our new book, Keeping the Covenant: Taking Parish to the Next Level, pp. 219-220.
The first-year goal for the Community Life Commission was to provide occasions for the parishioners to come together and enjoy each other’s company. The commission envisioned a string of parish socials that would attract a variety of people, both old and young, as well as those from various ethnic backgrounds. Only a few functions now existed and these were fund-raisers that targeted specific audiences, such as school parents, senior citizens or an ethnic group. The one exception was the annual parish festival that drew the entire parish together. But it was very labor-intensive and demanded many months of organizing and preparation. Could other simpler activities be planned that did not require such an outlay of energy but could still pull the whole parish community together?
What the commission came up with was a task group of ten people representing different ages and ethnic groups that would create a string of events, one for each month, with a break during the summer just before the festival. The task group was to decide what events to sponsor. One person from the task group would spearhead each month’s event, assembling a special committee to put it into operation.
Once the task group was in place it began by laying out possible events for each month of the coming year, beginning in September. The guidelines for these social events were that they should break even financially but not be fund-raisers, that they appeal to a wide spectrum of the parish population, that they be easy to put on, with no frills or demanding large expenditures of time and energy. Finally, they must have a built-in assessment process afterwards by which to judge their effectiveness. The criteria for success would be whether people showed up for the event, that different ages and ethnic groups were in attendance and whether people had fun while they were there. The list of events the task group came up was as follows:
(A description of each month’s social activity is included in the book.)
September: Movie Night and Ice Cream Social
October: A Walk in the Woods to enjoy the fall colors
November: Advent wreath-making and Christmas card writing activity
December: “Strange Gift” Christmas Party
January: Super Bowl/Best Commercials viewing and voting
February: Valentine’s Day/Anniversary Dance
March: Taste of the Parish – St. Patrick/St. Joseph Potluck
April: Easter Hat and Card Playing Fest
May: Prom Night that pairs the senior citizens with the youth
June: Parish Bike Trip and Picnic
(The book is now available either from the PEP office, Crossroads Publishing, bookstores or Amazon.com.)