Why should I become a parishioner? Isn’t just coming to Mass enough?
I once taught Catechism at a private school. The children of that school made their First Holy Communion through the school instead of through their parishes. A few years later, all those kids moved on to other schools and the school community was gone with the wind. On the other hand, my home parish was founded in 1853. The family that gave the land to the church back in the 1840s is still active at the parish, as is the family that sold the land to them in the early 1700s. That’s a real lasting community.
Pope Francis says that our identity comes from belonging. When we are not tied to a history — a past — we become cultural orphans. Our young people today are lonelier than ever and less likely to belong to anything. I’m sure that’s not merely a coincidence. There is something about putting a nail in the wall that says commitment. “I’m here. I’m planted.” For our spiritual lives to thrive we need roots. We need to be planted. We need to be committed to a parish community. A parish is not merely a church building; it’s a stable community of the Christian faithful. Everything in the normal Christian life can be found at the parish. It is where we are initiated into the faith. It is where we go when we need healing. It is where we present ourselves before God to be united in marriage. And in the end it is where we are brought to be handed back to our heavenly Father. Yet not only is a parish good for us we are good for it. We have a certain duty and responsibility to make a commitment to be involved in a Catholic community. As the culture becomes more and more secular at best, and often downright hostile toward Christianity, we need strong parishes, strong Christian communities. We need to support each other. Your Christian Community needs you.