Seven Secrets of Successful Parishioners

Our pastor recently published an abridged version of an article entitled, Seven Secrets of Successful Parishioners in this past week’s bulletin. The article was written by Paul Wilkes, and appeared in the August 2004 edition of The Catholic Update. The full article may be read here.

Immediately following the article in the bulletin was an encouraging and inspirational comment from our beloved pastor, in which he stated that we fit the description of successful parishioners as illustrated in the article.

Here are those “Seven Secrets of Successful Parishioners”

1) Believe in the Adventure of Being Catholic

. . . "We've never done that before" or "That's not in the budget" are not insurmountable barriers to living out what successful parishioners know is the gospel mandate to heal and serve and comfort and educate and evangelize. They are optimists who say, "This is too good an opportunity to pass up; let's do it, let's find the money and the people somehow, some way." . . .

2) Believe in Other Parishioners

. . . So it is in our parishes. The successful parishioner looks out over the parish and sees untapped talent, seeds waiting to sprout, an abundance of goodness just waiting to be summoned for whatever task is at hand. It's all there, the successful parishioner senses. It doesn't need to be "hired out"; it just needs to be summoned forth. . . .

3) See the Parish as the Spiritual Epicenter of Their Life

. . . To the successful parishioner, the parish is the Church. This takes nothing away from the universal Church of which we all are a part. But a universal church does not have the companionship, the immediacy, the intimacy of the parish and the successful parishioner continually returns to this spiritual home. This is the extended spiritual family, promising fellow travelers for this portion of the pilgrimage that is our lives. . .

4) Do Not Always Have to Win or Be Right

. . . The successful parishioner cares too much about the parish to look upon it as a jousting match or a place where ego must triumph and be continually fed.
This "secret" is not one that strong-minded, active parishioners always practice well, but it is absolutely crucial in the makeup of the successful parishioner. For without it, the Holy Spirit has little room to influence or inform or steer. . . .

5) Are Proud Enough of the Parish to Represent It Well
. . . Successful parishioners are ambassadors for their parish. While admitting the parish still has so much more to do to meet the needs of its people, the community and the world, they speak in positive terms about what their parish is doing. Without being boastful, they are proud of their parish's accomplishments, presence in the community, future plans.
They are not shy about both proclaiming they are Catholic and living out their Catholicism in a specific place. . . .

6) Are Not Members, But Disciples

. . . Membership has a static sound to successful parishioners. Quite frankly, it's not good enough for them. Attending or "doing their obligation" is not sufficient for this most important part of their life.
Discipleship, not membership, characterizes how they choose to live a Catholic life within their parish and in their everyday life. As Christ saw needs in the world and tried to meet them, so do the successful parishioners who are not afraid to proclaim Christ's message—no, not with words, but with their actions. . .

7) Believe in the Power of Prayer and the Eucharist

. . . While I've saved this "secret" for last, it is the most important. It is the very foundation of the successful parishioner's life. After all, what is all the work and involvement in parishes to accomplish, if it is not grounded in prayer? And without the Eucharist? Without God coming so urgently and completely into our lives . . .

Paul Wilkes is the author of The Seven Secrets of Successful Catholics, and creator of New Beginnings, a parish revitalization program, which is distributed by St. Anthony Messenger Press. To find out more, go to

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