One of the many legacies of the late Msgr. James Tarantino, former pastor of St. Mark Parish, is a parish hospitality outreach program launched just weeks after his April 25 death.
In May, parishioners of the Belmont parish were urged from the pulpit, on the website and in print to invite neighbors, friends, co-workers, family members and others to Mass to experience a Catholic liturgy and meet the parish community during “Bring a Friend to Mass Month.” The invitation was extended to lapsed Catholics, Christians of other denominations and non-Christians.
“My thought right off the bat is that nothing beats a personal invitation,” said Father Joe Bradley, who was appointed administrator of the Belmont parish with the passing of Msgr. Tarantino. Father Bradley grew up at St. Mark Parish and celebrated his first Mass as a priest there.
With only three weeks on the job, Father Bradley told Catholic San Francisco May 18 that though he hasn’t seen a formal count of how many “newcomers” the parish saw in the first two weeks of May, his guess is that anywhere from five to 10 friends were brought to each weekend Mass.
According to pastoral council chair Joe Gillanders, the outreach plan evolved from a 12-point vision developed by the pastoral council under the leadership of Msgr. Tarantino. The council reviewed the elements, one by one, assessing strengths, gaps and brainstorming and prioritizing things we can do to make a positive difference.
The vision for evangelization read: “We attract people to the living Gospel of Jesus Christ and to St. Mark Church including Christian converts, Catholics moving into the area and those returning to the church.”
“We brainstormed about 50 ideas and decided that ‘Bring a Friend to Mass Month’ would make the most difference,” Gillanders said.
“We believe there are people in our community that would come to church if only they were invited,” he said. “We’re asking our parishioners to reach out to people they know and extend a warm invitation. We’re not asking them to twist people’s arms.”
“Bring a Friend to Mass” month was promoted on the parish website, and a flyer hailed the project’s goal of sharing “the good news of Jesus with others and welcome them into our parish family.”
Full story at Catholic SF.