Ealing Abbey: lay-led group welcomes returning Catholics

On June 27/28 Ealing Abbey hosted its third annual Landings workshop, a programme which trains groups of lay people to welcome Catholics who have, for one reason or another, stopped practicing their faith. The workshop was led by Mrs Joan Horn, Landings International co-ordinator, and Fr James Leachman OSB, a monk of Ealing Abbey and director of Landings UK.

Over 50 participants from six different dioceses took part. Around 110 people were trained at the recent Landings workshops earlier this month in the dioceses of Lancaster and Liverpool, led by Fr Jac Campbell, the Paulist Father who devised Landings around 15 years ago. The Ealing workshop was the ninth one to have taken place in the UK since Landings was introduced to Britain in 2001 (the others took place in the dioceses of Portsmouth, Westminster, Lancaster, Liverpool, Salford and Southwark).

As a result, Landings groups are now running in many parts of the country and demand for further workshops is growing. The numbers of non-churchgoing Catholics in the UK are staggering, in most parts of the country, less than 20% of baptised Catholics participate in parish communities. Landings has proved itself to be an effective way of drawing people back into the Church community. The success of Landings seems to lie in its simplicity. "It's a ministry of compassionate listening" explained Fr Jac.

"This programme is tailored specifically for people who are returning to the Church, and whose needs are not met in RCIA or other programmes for new or active Catholics." Pauline Gilbertson from Ealing Abbey, said: "Landings is based on faith sharing, prayer and reflections on the Creed with a typical Landings group comprising four to six ordinary parishioners and two or three returning Catholics."

She added: "Because it is lay-led Landings removes a burden from the parish priest, whose participation is only needed for the Reconciliation Retreat which takes place at the end of a Landings course. Returning to the Church as part of a group of sympathetic, non-judgemental lay people also ensures that the returners are befriended and supported even after the course of meetings has finished. Reports from people who have taken part in Landings groups indicate unanimously that the 'welcoming' parishioners who take part in the group find that Landings renews their own spiritual lives." For more information visit: www.bsac.ac.uk/LandingsUK/index.htm

June 2003

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