The Mass on the weekend is the one event where a majority of the parishioners experience the parish, and no where else. How to make these good experiences for as many as possible? Try out this goal as something that might produce results:

“Within the next three years, our liturgies will be welcoming celebrations that invite active participation of the diverse community in such a manner so as to create a hunger to return.”

Think about how you might plan the weekend liturgies to do these four things:

  • Become welcoming celebrations
  • Invite active participation
  • Attend to the diversity of the community
  • Create a hunger to return

When people leave church, they should be saying to themselves, “Wow, I want to come back to that!” St. Monica’s in Santa Monica, CA puts special attention on welcoming people as they come into church. Not only is there a special ministry of “greeters,” but these people are trained with the use of a video that shows them how to go about inviting people into worship. Check out their website at a

The music is another way to invite active participation. In parishes we have visited, the ones where people sang the best were where the song leaders reached out and touched “the singer” within each worshipper. The songs were enjoyable, creative and challenging, as well as prayerful. In one place, without intimidation, the leader stopped the entrance song and said, “Whoa, we can do better than that. Let’s try it again, only three times as loud.” And indeed they did.

Attending to the diverse community means knowing the unique character of each Mass and adjusting the liturgy to help people pray and worship as a body, not just as individuals. This might include a contemplative Mass with little or no singing, a “high Mass” with choir and special rituals, a family Mass with emphasis on parents and children, and a contemporary Mass geared more towards the teens and younger adults.

As for creating a “hunger to return,” give people homework for the week, either thoughts from the homily, or handing out the next week’s readings for reflection, or a special song, perhaps in parts, that they could practice, or encouraging them to invite someone to join them at Mass next week. The more people are involved, both during and between the liturgies, the more interest they will have in returning the next weekend.  See Keeping the Covenant (Thomas Sweetser, SJ, Crossroads, 2007), pp. 214-219.  See also Parish as Covenant (Thomas Sweetser, SJ, Sheed and Ward, 2001), pp. 97-113.



A sample of PEP Newsletters related to Liturgy:

The Importance of Good Preaching

 Taking Leave of Loved Ones

Pastor’s Letters Regarding Liturgy

An Annual Ritual