Page 2, 10th December 1999

10th December 1999
Page 2
Page 2, 10th December 1999 — Scheme to bring 'lost sheep' back to the fold

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Organisations: Pentecost Mission
Locations: London


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Scheme to bring 'lost sheep' back to the fold

Lapsed await knock on door

By Luke Coppen LAPSED Catholics will be invited back to Church in the Holy Year as part of a London-wide mission inspired by the late Cardinal Basil Hume.

Parishes in Westminster diocese will send out small teams to visit the lapsed and invite them to take part in "welcoming groups" at their local church.

They are responding to a challenge issued by the Cardinal, who shortly before his death asked every parish in Westminster diocese to reach out to "distanced" Catholics.

The Cardinal was concerned by figures which showed that only one in four Catholics regularly attend Sunday Mass in England and Wales.

Westminster diocese's five pastoral areas are currently holding training days for parish mission leaders. Mgr Henry Turner, who is co-ordinating the central area mission, said that teams would approach lapsed Catholics with "sensitivity" and "awareness".

"It won't be knocking willynilly on doors," he said. "But there will be some direct contact, because you can't expect people simply to come to you.

"Some parishes have used the register of electors, some are working through schools, others are inviting members to give names and addresses of people they know."

Parishes will use a booklet entitled Longing for Belonging, which includes specimen letters of invitation and suggestions on how to organise the outreach.

Mgr Turner has advised parishes not to expect great numbers of lapsed to return initially. "I'm telling parishes to be very modest. If each parishes attracts just five people, then that is 1,000 in the whole diocese," he said.

Bishop Victor Guazzelli, a retired Westminster auxiliary bishop who is overseeing the programme, said that responsibility for the mission fell on the laity, not just priests. "The idea is to obey our Lord's command to go out and preach to all nations. It's the whole Church that is asked to do it," he said.

The outreach programme will begin shortly before Lent and continue throughout the Holy Year. It will coincide with Westminster diocese's Pentecost Mission, when each parish will hold three open meetings looking at the theological virtues of faith, hope and love, through the sacraments of baptism, reconciliation and Holy Communion.

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