"Maybe someone among us here is thinking: my sin is so great, I am as far from God as the younger son in the parable (of the Prodigal Son), my unbelief is like that of Thomas; I don’t have the courage to go back, to believe that God can welcome me and that he is waiting for me, of all people. But God is indeed waiting for you; he asks of you only the courage to go to him."
Pope Francis, Homily 7th April 2013
A video by the american initiative 'Catholics Come Home'
It does not matter how long you have been away. Whatever the reason that stopped you practising your Catholic faith, as with every Catholic church throughout the whole world, at St John Vianney's, there is a warm welcome awaiting your return.
Returning to the Church or perhaps somehow answering a longing in your heart for God is not a journey that we make alone. Remember, as you take these steps of faith, the Lord walks with you, he is there to help and guide you.
We hope you find this page helpful in answering some questions you may have about coming back to the Church and that it will be useful in helping you to cross the threshold to a deeper relationship with God.
Why come back?
There are many reasons that may have caused you to stop practising your faith. Here are some reasons to help you think about coming back to Church.
Meaning - Our culture and society can sometimes leave us with a sense of confusion which makes it difficult to find meaning and purpose in our lives. In the face of the modern world Christ fulfils our lives, he gives them meaning and purpose.
Healing - There are many things which carry on our shoulders, the burden of our own sinfulness over the years, guilt, not being able to forgive other people, or perhaps other spiritual wounds - anger with God, questioning God for the thing that happen in life. Being open to Jesus and what we can receive from him through the Church can bring us comfort, healing and peace to all of our daily struggles and problems.
Belonging - The Catholic Church is a community of people united in Christ. It is more than just a place of friendly people and interesting sermons. Together, Catholics offer whatever is going on in their lives, joys and sorrows, to God. Together, as a community, they receive God's help and support to live their lives.
The Eucharist - Perhaps this is the best reason for returning to Church and practising your faith. Each time we celebrate Holy Mass, Jesus is present and we are given the immense privilege of receiving him at Holy Communion. Everyone has a longing in their hearts to meet Jesus. Receiving him in this special way satisfies our hunger and helps us to meet him in the other areas of our lives - even in those areas we did not think he could be present.
How do I come back?
Remember, it is never too late to start again. Here are a few suggestions to help you come back to the Church. Take them in your own time and at your own pace.
Pray - If you are thinking of coming back to church it is because the Holy Spirit is trying to say something to your heart. Talk to God, ask Him to help you in your life, ask him to help your faith to grow.
Come to Mass - Sunday Masses are celebrated on Saturday at 6.00pm (Vigil Mass) and Sunday at 10.30am. The best way to come back to church is to just start coming. Sunday Mass is especially important for Catholics because we gather as a community of faith to worship God together. You may not be ready to receive Holy Communion yet. You can come up for a blessing until you are ready.
Celebrate Reconciliation - The Sacrament of Reconciliation or Confession is a moment of healing and we need it before being able to receive Holy Communion again. There is nothing to fear about this Sacrament. If you are worried or nervous about this step, please speak to one of the priests, they are happy to help you to come back to church. Confession is available on Saturdays at 7.00pm (after Saturday Vigil Mass) or by making an appointment with the parish priests.
Receive Holy Communion - Once you have been to confession you can fully participate at Mass by receiving Holy Communion. The task now is to continue the good work that God has started in you. You have this fresh start with God and his Church keep praying for the grace to be faithful.