Most of us feel something of an indictment whenever Saint James is read during the mass. “Faith without works is dead” reminds us that we could always pour ourselves out more than we do, even if over the course of our lives, we’ve done a lot. The pandemic pared down parish life to the bones and is only beginning to return to something closer to before, and we face a people shortage as a result of eighteen months without a consistent building of ongoing expectations and community building.
With this set up in mind, here are 51 ways you can help your parish begin to serve the whole community and by your works, reveal something of our faith.
50. Go to mass even if the schedule doesn’t fit your life, at your parish.
49. Register if you haven’t. Check your contributions and bump them if you can.
48. Pray for your priests when you sit down at the dinner table, as a family.
47. Support the parish school if the parish has one, by helping with fund-raisers or volunteering with the program in some capacity. Phone and ask. There’s always a need.
46. Sing at mass.
45. Sign up your kids to train to be altar servers.
44. Bring your teens to youth group.
43. If they have a soup kitchen or a food pantry program, donate a few things each week.
42. Schedule time in adoration.
41. Thank the ushers.
40. Look for an invisible need, meet it.
39. Invite others to come to mass with you.
38. Offer to drive people to mass.
37. Join a prayer group hosted by the parish.
36. Become someone who brings the Eucharist to those who cannot attend.
35. Handy at home repair? Offer your assistance with the facilities where there’s need.
34. Work on the grounds, help beautify them.
33. Go to the parish picnic.
32. Consider volunteering as support with CCD.
31. Befriend your pastor/priests out to lunch, as friends.
30. Skilled in web design? Let your parish know, and help them upgrade their website.
29. Bake goods to be taken to those with new babies.
28. Form a bereavement group to provide support to those who are grieving.
27. Know more than one language? Offer to translate the bulletin or other information for those who do not.
26. Buy flowers for the Blessed Mother.
25. Participate in a devotion you’ve not before –like to the Sacred Heart of Jesus or the Divine Mercy Chaplet.
24. Be part of a Catholic book club or form one.
23. Organize a clothing drive.
22. Create a parish directory to help reveal the gifts and talents of the broader parish community.
21. Call those who are registered but for whatever reason haven’t been around, to see if they need support the parish can provide.
20. Consider being a volunteer with the youth group.
19. Share your faith at the donuts and coffee after mass.
18. Become a sponsor couple.
17. Go to frequent confession.
16. Play an instrument? Begin practicing and offer your gift to the parish as part of the liturgy.
15. Become a lector.
14. Help organize Lenten or Advent services.
13. Write a letter to your pastor complimenting what you see that is good at your parish.
12. Become a substitute to call at the school.
11. Join a committee that organizes a regular traditional event at the parish, and be part of the manual labor that makes it happen.
10. Sit and listen at the parish council meeting if it is open.
9. Underwrite a Youtube channel for your parish.
8. Offer to videotape the masses for the parish.
7. Join the hospitality committee and greet people as they enter the church, and wish them well as they leave.
6. Create a pro-life committee or join it.
5. Volunteer to help clean the pews in between masses.
4. Write the history of the parish or learn it.
3. Make a decision to go to at least one of the daily masses per week.
2. Find out what service ministries the Church hosts, and examine your own heart about how God wants you to act.
1. Introduce yourself and your family to another family in the pews before or after mass. The easiest way to make a parish a home is to become friends with the others in your pews.
Finally, call your pastor and ask, what do you need and how can I help? Parishes thrive or die the same way families grow or wither, by the willful participation or neglect of their members. Service is part of discipleship, as it reveals the ways in which we manifest our friendship with Christ, by ministering to His bride.