On Being a Visitor…

Earlier this week over at NewEvangelizers.com, I reflected on my role as a baptized person in offering an opinion to a pastor–even when I know that my opinion is corrective or different. The question wasn’t merely theoretical. I’m living as a “visitor” in a different region and have seen some practices at my adopted parish that seem downright un-evangelical.

So here’s the first follow up question I’m wrestling with–is it more appropriate to offer one’s opinion as a “regular” or as a “visitor?”

I think the answer is both–but for different reasons. On one hand, as a regular, one has a relationship with their pastor. He knows that you’re speaking up for the right reasons. And, hopefully your actions match your sentiments.

On the other hand, being a regular can make it hard to spot things that might be opposed to evangelization or not presenting the Catholic faith clearly, since these things might be a habitual part of a particular community’s parish life. In this sense, a visitor’s eye can see what stands out as a possible obstacle or stumbling block for those newer to the faith, the Church, Jesus Christ, or just new to the parish.

My second follow-up question is about reception. For those in parish leadership position, how easy to we make it for regulars and/or visitors to offer feedback? To offer an opinion? How open and two-way are our communications? And, maybe most importantly, what is our spirit of reception?

Good questions for all of us–regulars, visitors, and leaders–to ponder.


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