In many parishes the pace slows down during the summer. Religious education classes end. Organizations stop meeting. The choir stops singing. Parish leaders and staff members take well deserved vacations!
While everyone needs time for rest and restoration, we can’t give people the impression that it’s okay to take a vacation from God. Summer is a great time to offer people some different ways to strengthen their spiritual lives. It just takes a little pre-planning, and now is the perfect time to do that.
Start by calling together your adult education committee and other interested parishioners. Give them a list of all the summer activities that your parish already has planned. Chances are Vacation Bible School is on the calendar. Maybe your youth group is taking on a service project. You might have a parish picnic or a parish fundraising event planned.
Ask your group to brainstorm new ideas for giving summer a spiritual focus. What other activities or events would give people a chance to experience their Catholic spirituality in a new or different way? Here are some ideas:
- Invite a Christian music group to put on a summer concert.
- Publish a summer reading list of Catholic books.
- Organize a summer book club that features a Catholic novelist like Flannery O’Connor or Walker Percy.
- Plan a trip to a local shrine or organize a tour of your diocesan Cathedral.
- Bring in a speaker to do a summer evening of reflection.
- Set up a summer faith sharing group or a bible study.
- Combine exercise and prayer by starting a morning walking group.
- Carpool to different parishes once a week for morning Mass followed by breakfast.
As you continue your brainstorming, your group will probably come up with other ideas. Don’t feel as if you have to do it all. Pick one or two things that everyone agrees would be easy and appealing to parishioners. Set up a committee and use the month of May to plan and publicize. By the time summer comes, your plan will be in progress and the people in your parish will have a chance to deepen their connection with God and each other!