When speaking of readying the nets you may be forgiven for thinking it’s a reference to the World Cup in Brazil. Rather as you may have guessed it’s an allusion to the familiar biblical image of fishing for people (Luke 5, John 21).
We know well that Jesus chose fishermen and called them to fish for people, this too is our call as missionary disciples, as Pope Francis is often reminding us. Every day is fishing season. While respecting the notion of year round catechumenate, following a time of mystagogia many RCIA groups will be thinking ahead to the autumn and the welcoming new enquirers.
It may be useful to reflect on the pathways that lead people to seek initiation and to spend some time surveying those who have been initiated and ask them what brought them to the group.
Perhaps they were a spouse of a Catholic, perhaps they were Christians from another tradition who wanted to join the Catholic Church, perhaps they have come to faith in Christ and were seeking baptism having not previously belonged to any Church? There are all sorts of pathways that lead people to desire initiation into the Catholic Community. How do we tailor our welcome and process to the needs of the various seekers? Whatever people’s background they will all have particular questions and particular needs.
What are we doing in our parishes and groups to ready the nets for those who will come along over the summer months? Do we passively wait for people to enquire or do we proactively and courteously invite people to consider exploring the Catholic faith? Do we just do this within the parish (e.g. the newsletter, website and announcements) or are we creative in how we offer the invitation more widely? For example if there is a Catholic School in our parish do we make connections via the school with families connected to the school? In what ways do we cast out the net for a catch?
By enabling the whole community to take part in this casting out of the net we will of course reach far more people with the invitation. Does the congregation know about the RCIA process in the parish and are we providing them with simple ways to witness to Christ and let friends and family members know there is an opportunity for them to consider the Catholic faith?
As well as taking a well earned rest over the summer months, let’s continue to pray for each other and ready the nets for a catch.