St. Jude the Apostle Catholic Church was once a dynamic and closely-knit faith
community mainly comprised of growing families. The parishioners had accomplished
some amazing goals in their fifty plus year history. They had transformed their campus
from a house church to one that included a new church building, a rectory and parish hall.
As a community, the members had matured to the point where the majority of the
households are comprised of couples or single adults over the age of fifty. The
community began to drift apart once their major goals were met and programs lost their
relevancy. Within the last few years, the parishioners have regrouped. Building on the
principles of engagement borrowed from business management, new programs have been
implemented and new life has been added to existing programs.
This paper presents St. Jude’s as a case study on engaging a parish community
beyond the Mass. Part one of the paper provides an overview of St. Jude’s parish, an
introduction to the concept of engagement, and examples of how each of the engagement
elements has been used in the parish. Part two presents supplemental materials on the
ministries and committees of the parish. Examples are provided of highlights of the way
some ministries and committees of St. Jude’s have implemented engagement. Finally, as
a means of summarizing the engagement principles, an analysis is presented of a program
before and after implementation.