the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Ridgewood NJ, The Archdiocese of Newark has just launched its new Vine and Branches campaign to inspire Catholics in Bergen, Essex, Hudson, and Union counties to return to Mass now that most pandemic-related restrictions have been lifted.
Spearheaded by Auxiliary Bishop Michael A. Saporito and priests of the Archdiocese, the Vine and Branches initiative will see parishes host numerous special events and online engagement throughout the year to reconnect with congregation members who stopped attending Mass due to COVID-19. Additionally, the initiative will attempt to build relationships with non-parishioners through outreach efforts inviting them to join the Church.
“The parishes within our Archdiocese reopened their doors for in-person Masses months ago,” said Bishop Saporito. “This effort is designed to open our doors wide to our communities and re-introduce to all that receiving Christ’s Body and Blood through the Eucharist is the most sacred and vital gift a Catholic can receive.”
Though the Archdiocese oversees the Vine and Branches initiative, each participating parish is planning its own programming after forming committees focused on community outreach, social events, missionary work, digital strategy, and “welcome back” activities. Upcoming gatherings are expected to include special Masses, concerts, coffee hours, and other types of social parish events. Emphasis also will be placed on communicating through technology and social media platforms in order to better reach people in today’s digital world.
“By offering these fun, faith-filled, and creative activities, we hope our parishioners will recognize that it is safe to attend Mass again while appreciating the value of gathering together in community,” said Bishop Saporito. The Archdiocese continues to maintain and promote health and safety policies in compliance with state mandates. “And if you’ve never been to church, these programs are the perfect entry point to start exploring your faith.”
Through it all, the Vine and Branches back-to-Church initiative will seek to foster a spirit of welcoming so churchgoers will feel comfortable embracing their faith and revitalizing their relationship with Jesus.
“In the Gospel of John, Jesus stated that He is the vine, and we are the branches,” Bishop Saporito said. “Many of us are in need of faith, prayers, and a connection to Christ as well as to one another. Given that we all have experienced this pandemic together, we are all working together to renew ourselves. And I hope people see that there is no better place to do that than church, where we can worship and heal as one.”
To learn more about Vine and Branches, visit https://www.rcan.org/VineAndBranches.