Many different circumstances can lead to the need to leave the parish that was your spiritual home—moving, parishes closing or merging, a change in schedule that makes it impossible to attend Mass or Religious Ed, or whatever your need is. Regardless of how it happens, having to leave your parish family can be profoundly painful. Often, it takes a lot of adjustment to make your new parish your home. It takes sincere effort to not compare every little aspect of the new place to your old one: the priest isn’t as friendly or as good a homilist, the music isn’t as good, they don’t have __________ ministry/group, my Church was prettier…believe me I’ve heard, or even said it all! If you have recently changed parishes—or even changed a long time ago and are having trouble getting comfortable—please consider the following ideas on how to make a successful transition.
5. Say “Hi” to the people around you at Mass
It’s not necessarily appropriate to have a full-blown conversation in Church before Mass starts, but people are creatures of habit—and chances are—you are going to find that you, and the people around you are in the same spot each week. Make an effort to acknowledge the people around you; with a nod, a smile, a quick wave. You’d be surprised how a little gesture like that can go to making a connection in the pew. And, it could lead to conversation after Mass!
4. Get involved
Belonging to a parish means that you have a claim on them, and they have a claim on you. Just like you have spiritual and relational needs, your parish has need of you! It’s not enough to scrutinize what they do or don’t have to offer—you have a lot to offer, too! Maybe the choir isn’t great, and you are aware of it because you can sing…bring your beautiful voice to their assistance! Maybe they don’t have the ministry that nourished you most in your old parish…ask if you can help get it started—if it nourished you, it might be great for other people, too! A major part of parish life is community—religion is not meant to stay between you and God—it’s meant to reach out to the people of God. So, get involved and become part of the action of the Holy Spirit!