New initiative reaches out to Catholics less involved in parish life

KIT, the Keeping in Touch programme, is a parish based, lay led ministry which reaches out to, welcomes and keeps in touch with all local Catholics and their families, whether or not they go to church, through home visits and small group meetings.  It is proving to be an effective way both of strengthening parish communities and welcoming non church-going parishioners back to the Sacraments.  

Started in Portsmouth diocese in 2004, KIT home visiting programme in particular is attracting interest around the UK .  The visiting team spends time preparing for the visits, why they are going, what to take with them, what to say.  And they never go cold-calling.  The parish priest writes to all those to be visited, giving them the chance to refuse a visit if they prefer.  At first visitors are nervous that they will not know the answers to questions, but most people are not looking for answers; they want their stories to be heard.  Visitors need to be good listeners; they do not go out to convert, but to get to know fellow Catholics and address any concerns they may have. 

Non church-going Catholics who express an interest are invited to a few small group meetings where they can ask questions, tell their stories and explore today’s church and their faith in a relaxed and informal atmosphere with church-goers and other non church goers.  Those who wish then come to a longer meeting with the priest, during which they can celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation, a house Mass and a party. 

Parishes with a KIT team are finding a small but steady number of Catholics returning to the Sacraments.  Sometimes the letter before a visit has been enough; the visits can be a wakeup call for a ‘sleeping’ Catholic and have led to marriage problems being sorted by the priest, misunderstandings being explained and housebound parishioners being discovered and cared for.  It also keeps parish records updated.  It works best when the whole parish is involved in reaching out.  Once parishioners know KIT is there, a chat on a bus, a leaflet through a neighbour’s door, even a phone call to a wrong number have all brought Catholics back to church.  And many church goers also welcome the personal touch.  “Now I feel I really belong” said one parishioner after a home visit.

The KIT diocesan team has presented workshops in several dioceses and even abroad, and have been greatly encouraged by the positive feedback from these.  One member said: “This is a project that has been tried and tested - and it works. The whole idea is inspirational; it is wonderful to know, and become a part of, an initiative where people really care”.  For more information see:    

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