Everybody's Welcome

Everybody's Welcome is a collaborative initiative of the Catholic Church in England and Wales supporting the development of welcoming, family-sensitive, friendly parishes.  Through Everybody’s Welcome our parish communities seek to:

  • offer understanding, friendship and support to all
  • be a source of help in times of need
  • help everyone in the parish feel that they belong there
  • encourage and celebrate all family life whether married, widowed, single, divorced, separated, with children or without.
Everybody's Welcome
Everybody’s Welcome is rooted in families' expressed needs of the Church and the Church's understanding of God's desire for families. It invites parish communities to reflect on how family-sensitive, friendly and welcoming they are and offers resources to support that reflection and its outcomes.

Why is Everybody’s Welcome Necessary?

Friendship with others in their parish helps families
"The friends we have at church enrich our lives, and give us spiritual support for the right choices."
Not everybody feels known, loved or accepted by their parish community
"One person's warm and caring parish is another person's clique."
Today's family life creates particular challenges for parishes
"We need to create a culture of inclusion and welcome. We think that priests can do a lot to recognise the diverse nature of the congregation when preaching and preparing notices."
A range of families in particular situations are experiencing additional difficulties
"It is difficult and stressful to bring our autistic child to church, both for us and him."
Families asked that parishes be sensitive to the pressures of family life when timetabling events and asking for help
"Sometimes little is understood about how busy evenings are; 6-8.30 are family times, not times for meetings."
Participants asked for practical tools to help parishes make families feel at home and know where to go for extra help or advice
"Packs for welcoming and sharing information, contact details, affirming families in what they are already doing."
Participants suggested that parishes could help families be more aware of the existing support available in the community
"There's a lot of family support out there. We don't want to reinvent the wheel but parishes could act as a sign post.”

RESOURCES

In 2005 the Bishops produced the Everybody's Welcome Action Plan which sought to:

  • highlight the need for friendly, welcoming and family-sensitive parishes and share the stories of those parishes already putting this into practice.
  • raise awareness of family diversity (social, cultural and spiritual) over the life-cycle and in changing circumstances.
  • develop materials to enable parishes to explore, articulate, celebrate and accommodate the diversity of their families more effectively.
  • encourage acquaintance and friendship within parishes by promoting social events and opportunities for sharing life experiences.
  • offer practical resources for supporting community and family life
  • assist the development of local networks of family support by creating a national directory of sources of support and templates for local contact information
As a result of that Action Plan we are able to offer a range of practical tools to help parishes become more welcoming, friendlier and more family-sensitive. Some of those tools address specific aspects of the Everybody’s Welcome initiative. Pastors, parish groups, organisations, families and individuals are invited to use any of the resources featured on this website, to adapt them to local situations and to share their experiences.