| Parish's gift might lead visitors home
One way to think about people who come to church once a year — say, on Christmas — is as a nuisance. They take up the parking spaces and sit in your seat.
Then there's the way St. Michael Parish in Livermore thought of them this Christmas.
The parish handed a gift to each person attending Christmas Masses — familiar face and visitor alike.
In adopting its new banner: "Jesus … Know Him, Trust Him, Share Him," the parish stood ready to gave away 4,000 copies of "Rediscovering Catholicism" by Matthew Kelly. They ordered books in both Spanish and English.
Kelly, whose ministry Dynamic Catholicism, made a stop for sold-out retreats in Antioch and Dublin this year, suggests that 32 percent of the people who attend Mass on Christmas will attend only that Mass that year.
The program, promoted by Kelly's ministry, makes his books available in bulk at extremely low cost. It offers the parish the opportunity to hand those visitors a gift — and maybe see them again the following week.
Volunteers affixed a label inside each book, which included contact information for the parish and a short letter from its pastor, Father Robert Mendonça.
"Please accept this gift on behalf of St. Michael's parish! We pray that you will read it and pass it on so that others can read it. Thank you for choosing to worship with us on this special day.
"If you are not already a regular member of St. Michael's, we invite you to consider joining us. If you are looking for a church home, if you are seeking a deeper life and a Christian walk in the fullness of God's love, we pray you will find it here as we journey together in Christ: to know Him, Trust Him and Share Him. Come and see!"
The hope is that the visitor might return. But even if the book stays in the visitor's car for a year, someone might see it through a window.
Another way to look at the visitor, said Tina Gregory, who directs digital communications at the parish, "It might be the answer to someone's prayer."
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