LANDINGS is a a lay-led programme based on faith-sharing within a small group which offers a safe, comfortable “landing place” for Catholics who have been away from the Church and who are thinking about coming back. Our parish has been running Landings since October 2001.
There are many reasons people choose to stop practising their faith: some may have had unpleasant or painful experiences within their Church community, others will simply have drifted away. You may well ask why ‘returning Catholics’ need a programme like Landings to help them come back to the Church, for as long as there is no obstacle to them receiving the Sacraments they could come straight back to the Eucharist via the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession). Some might prefer not to join a group at all; Landings does not claim to be the best solution for everyone, but many seem to feel a need for support and friendship within a small group before venturing into the wider parish community. Landings provides a confidential environment in which people who are considering returning to regular worship can re-examine their faith and at the same time get to know some parishioners (the group’s ‘welcomers’). A typical group comprises 4 or 5 ‘welcomers’ and 2 or 3 ‘returners’ meeting once a week (usually on a weekday evening, in the parish office) for 8 weeks, followed by a final Retreat Day. It offers an opportunity for everyone in the group, whether ‘welcomer’ or ‘returner’, to tell their stories, air their grievances and share their beliefs; a gentle process which many seem to find both helpful and enjoyable. There is no formal element of teaching but we nevertheless all find that we learn from listening to one another. The meetings also include a weekly topic for discussion (loosely based on the Creed) as well as a time for prayer. Many people who come along as ‘returners’ enjoy the group so much that they continue in future groups as ‘welcomers’.
If you are a Catholic who has been away from the Church and you think that you might like to come along to a Landings group, please email LandingsUK@hotmail.com or ring 07717 224 072 to find out when the next Ealing Abbey Landings group will be running.