Dr. Cathleen McGreal
is a psychology professor and certified spiritual director.
Q. We just moved to a new community, which has been a big change for all of us. The biggest change is at church, which is virtually an all-white parish – and we are not. How do we help our children feel “at home”? Or would it be better to look for a more ethnically diverse parish?
A. In 2013, the USCCB asked the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate to investigate cultural diversity. The analysis indicated that multicultural parishes are more likely to be found in the West (32 percent) and South (32 percent), with fewer found in the Northeast (19 percent) and Midwest (17 percent). A move to a different region of the country may change the availability of parishes serving specific racial/ethnic communities.
Helping your children adjust to your new community. Talk to the parish staff to learn about different opportunities to engage with other parents. Seek informal gatherings at the church that might attract parents with children of the same age. If your children attend the parish school, then see if parents are needed as volunteers on the playground or at lunchtime. Use these opportunities to build relationships with other parents. Initiate after-church brunches or other activities. As your family grows closer to other parish families, your children will feel more at home.
The pope’s call for diversity. In his speech at the Ground Zero Memorial last September in New York, Pope Francis said, “ … we can and must build unity on the basis of our diversity of languages, cultures and religions, and lift our voices against everything which would stand in the way of such unity.”
Scripture forms the foundation for the response of the parish toward your family as you become members of the church community:
“Welcome one another, then, as Christ welcomed you, for the glory of God.” (Rom 15:7)