Church invites flock back into fold
Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church is preparing for a homecoming, but not in the traditional sense.
The Catholic church, located at the corner of Johnson Street and Skeet Club Road, will open its doors for its Catholics Come Home program beginning at 7 p.m. Thursday. The program welcomes Catholics and their families who have been away from the church and would like to come back.
“A lot of the time, people think it’s hard to come back to church, when it isn’t,” said Program Director Jan Hitch. “It is just a matter of picking up one foot after the other. We are hoping to show those who have been away that it is easy to come back. We always have a small group who participate, but the majority of them become active in the church again.”
The program has sessions on the top 10 reasons for returning to the faith and classes on the Sacrament of Initiation, the Sacrament of Healing and the Sacrament of Vocation.
“This is a refresher for participants on the sacraments and why it is important for them to get back in church,” Hitch said. “We are just trying to ease them back in.”
There also will be classes on the sacraments liturgy and other changes that have happened throughout the years. One class will deal exclusively with questions and concerns that participants may have that will be answered by certain church clergy in an informal group setting.
“I find that participants are interested in what color the priest wears and what the seasons of the church are,” Hitch said.
Rose Marie Boone, who went through the program in 2009, said the program is welcoming, informational and nonjudgemental.
“I am a cradle Catholic and never truly felt like I left the church, but I was not active for many years,” Boone said. “My children went to IHM, and when I went to their children’s Masses, I realized that I missed it.”
Boone said the Catholics Come Home program peaked her interest.
“It made it easy for me to go back to Mass, to church, and to feel very comfortable there. IHM has a great atmosphere, and they are enthusiastic about people coming to church there,” Boone said.
For more information, call the church office at (336) 869-7739 or Hitch at (336) 884-5097.
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Catholics by the numbers
In 2005, Catholics accounted for nearly 23 percent (64.8 million) of the U.S. population, yet according to the CARA Catholic Poll (CCP), only 33 percent of U.S. Catholics attend Mass on a weekly basis. That means about 42.7 million U.S. Catholics are not regular worshipers. Worldwide, nearly 800,000 Catholics do not practice their faith.
The number of Americans identifying themselves as non-religious/secular increased 110 percent from 1990 to 2000. It is now 13.2 percent of the total population. Comparing this statistic with the previous one, non-religious-secular individuals outnumber active, Mass-attending Catholics by 58 percent (13.2 percent vs. 7.59 percent).
As many as 100,000 baptized Catholics in the U.S. drift away each year.
Sources : CARA Catholic Poll (CCP), World Christian Encyclopedia’s “Comparative Study of Churches and Religions in the Modern World;” “The 7% Solution, A Guide to Evangelization at the Parish, Community or Diocesan Level,” by Victor Claveau