Parishes seeking wayward Catholics
Six Oahu parishes are putting out a special welcome mat this month for Catholics who have left the church.
The "Catholics Returning Home" program offers a refresher course about church teaching, the Mass and the sacrament of reconciliation or penance and changes implemented after the 1962 Second Vatican Council.
The program of six weekly sessions begins by giving attendees the chance to tell their stories and ask questions, said statewide coordinator Steve Odo. "The pastor apologizes for any hurts the church may have caused, and then he leaves. There are only lay people there to make it more comfortable for people to speak up.
"A major misunderstanding is about divorce; people believe they can't receive Holy Communion if they're divorced," said Odo. "Another main question comes from people thinking they were excommunicated because they thought this or said that."
Some people were given little education in Catholic beliefs by their families, and some have picked up erroneous information from outside sources including other religious organizations, he said.
"Research has showed that in the last couple of generations, families did not come to church regularly," leaving younger generations with no foundation in the faith, he said.
The program, one of several used nationwide, is based on a book, "Inviting Catholics Home," by Sally Mews. It was launched in the Honolulu diocese in 2003 after Odo and his wife returned to the church and sought a way to help others do the same.
The January timing is not a coincidence, said Odo. "A lot of wandering Catholics find their way home at Christmas and Easter, so their interest is renewed."
Catholics Returning Home courses are available at the following parishes:
» Our Lady of Sorrows, 1403-A California Ave., Wahiawa. Call 621-5109 for information on the sessions that began Jan. 2.
» St. John Apostle and Evangelist, 95-370 Kuahelani Ave., Mililani. Call Mike Browning, 275-1601, about the sessions that began Thursday.
» Co-Cathedral of St. Theresa, 712 N. School St. Call Zee Oue, 349-6389, about the program starting Jan. 24.
» St. Ann Church, 46-192 Haiku Road, Kaneohe. Call Jerry and Lilian McClellan at 247-7561 about sessions opening Jan. 28.
» St. John Vianney, 920 Keolu Drive, Kailua. Call 262-8317 about the program starting Jan. 29.
» Our Lady of Perpetual Help, 91-1004 North Road, Ewa Beach. Call Julia Torres at 689-8681 about classes starting Jan. 30.