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Inactive Catholics

Late have I loved you, O Beauty, ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.
-St. Augustine, Confessions

When deliberating over the question of how to bring inactive Catholics back to the Church, our gaze must turn to Christ.  We look to him to discover the way by which he has attracted the human heart to himself since the beginning of time.  A sincere look at the Gospels reveals to us that God draws man to himself by revealing his love.  This reaches its definitive climax on Calvary, when God displays his infinite love for the world through the pierced Heart of Christ.  In response, the human heart, created for love, cannot help but be attracted to this love and draw near (cf. Jn 12:32).

In light of this, we see that evangelization to inactive Catholics proceeds along the path of the revelation of God’s love.  In other words, evangelization must proceed along the path of holiness.  For it is only the individual, and the parish, that has been authentically transformed by the love of the living Christ such that “it is no longer I, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20) that can radiate the irresistible love of Christ that draws man back to God.  There is no program or marketing strategy that can replace the fundamental attraction of holiness to man.  The Tradition of the Church gives witness to this in the countless saints who have always attracted to themselves overwhelming crowds of people, through no effort of their own.  There is no ultimate resolution to the problem of inactive Catholics that does not involve, at its heart, the effort of stirring up the fire of divine love in the parish, centered in the heart of the Eucharistic Christ and his love for man.  It is the parish rooted and grounded in love (Eph 3:17) that is ready to go forth to the nations to proclaim the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ.

 Resources for Outreach to Inactive Catholics

Catholic Christian Outreach (CCO)
CCO is a Canada-based evangelization ministry that assists parishes in launching outreach through an intentionally structured small group evangelization process.  The centerpiece of this process is the CCO Faith Study Series moves people along five stages of discipleship beginning with the personal encounter with Jesus and ever deeper into spiritual maturity as a Catholic.  

ChristLife Series, Archdiocese of Baltimore
Three-part parish evangelization series that forms disciples of Christ and teaches them how to evangelize.  Three 7-week sessions: Discovering Christ, Following Christ, Sharing Christ.   The first part of this process, Discovering Christ, is a beautiful course of introduction for those who have not been to Church for awhile.

The Evangelical Catholic
A ministry devoted to helping ignite an evangelizing spirit in their parish culture through evangelizing small groups that help people encounter Christ and hear His Voice in the Scriptures.  EC parish partnerships offer extensive formation for your small group leaders in prayer, one-on-one accompaniment and evangelizing in a small group setting.

FOCUS Parish Outreach
FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) has been one of the most fruitful disciple-maker ministries on college campuses in the world! Parish Outreach is a new initiative which takes FOCUS’ model of spiritual multiplication from the campus to the parish. Experienced campus missionaries transition to the parish mission field and offer their evangelization skills and training to teach parishioners how to pray, evangelize and make disciples of others.

Parish Visitors of Mary Immaculate
Community of contemplative-missionary sisters whose primary apostolate
is outreach to inactive Catholics.   PVMI audio CDs are available by donation – ‘Seeking Out Non-Practicing Catholics’, ‘Evangelizing Using Traditional Devotions’, ‘Evangelization Manual Techniques’.
To order contact: George Morton, 845-783-2251

Relit: The Heart of Evangelization
Dynamic training program consisting of 18 DVD-based sessions that forms and equips your core faithful theologically, spiritually, and practically so that they can be active evangelists in their own parish and beyond.

Rosary for Evangelization
Pray the Rosary for your own continued conversion and holiness. In addition, pray for those whose hearts are far away from God, mentioning them by name in your prayer. Consider praying a Rosary for Evangelization.

St. Paul Street Evangelization
This Catholic program trains groups to “hit the streets”, bringing Christ to the world through sidewalk evangelization.
Find out about our local Lower Bucks/Philadelphia Chapter

Legion of Mary Door-to-Door Visiting
Prayer group that will help you run door-to-door evangelization in your parish
Local Philadelphia Chapter

Catholics Come Home
Resources for inactive Catholics, returning Catholics and practicing Catholics.
Catholics Come Home Parish Resources and Materials

Inactive Catholics Online Survey
Archdiocese of Philadelphia parishes are welcome to include this online survey on their parish website or social media to allow inactive Catholics to share their stories.  We have much to learn about why people have distanced themselves from the Church.  This is a small way to open the doors of communication.

Rosary for Evangelization
Using these simple suggestions to pray for those who do not yet know the love of Christ.  This most powerful prayer of the Church obtains graces of conversion for others and also converts our own hearts to be more aware of and sensitive to the people around us who await the Good News about what God has done for us!

Evangelizing Handouts


Make Every Person Count!  is a Parish outreach to every registered household for the purpose of reconnecting with inactive Catholics, conducting pastoral visits and updating parish records. It can be done at any time of the year. To learn more about the process, time line, role of leadership team, materials needed and follow-up action steps, please download the following booklets.

• Training of Home Visitors Leader’s Guide

• Training of Home Visitors Participant’s Booklet


It is not always possible for a parish to do a door-to-door visitation but, in a desire to reach out, a parish could make phone calls. Here are two booklets to help parishes with that important ministry. One is for the team in preparing this outreach and the other is a guideline for the callers. (For additional materials for the phone visits, see the materials listed under Home Visitation and adapt accordingly.)

Phone Calls – Parish Guide
Phone Calls – Guide for Callers

Blessing of Phone Visitors
Bulletin Notices
Letter to All Parishioners
Parish Record Form
Sorry you were not home letter
Evaluation for Phone Callers