"I am looking for some ideas on how to get families to go to Mass each week. Any suggestions?"

Since there are so many things about your situation I do not know, I will have to give you some general suggestions. Adaptations will always depend on size of your parish, your budget, your catechetical schedule and a myriad of other factors.

In order for families to get to Sunday Mass, the parish must be welcoming and eager to see families with young children at the liturgy. Evangelizing the parish for this can be a positive activity for parish members and newcomers alike.

Some of the things you might want to try to get families to commit to going to Sunday Mass together:

• Talk to the children during their faith formation classes. Tell them what a wonderful opportunity we have as Catholics to be with Jesus when we are at the liturgy together. Also, encourage the children to look for the DRE, their catechist and their friends when they are at Mass and say hello. Children love to see people they know in another setting than where they usually encounter them.

• Have a parent meeting about faith formation in general. Give out a questionnaire for them to complete during the meeting. Ask questions like: 1) Which Mass does your family usually attend on Sunday? (Presume they are going and they might meet your expectations.) 2) If you find it difficult to get to Mass as a family, what can the parish do to help you? (Maybe they would love to have child care for very young children; this is especially important for single parent families.) 3) What is your favorite memory about going to Mass with your family when you were a child? (Surely they want to offer good things for their own children!)

• If you can afford it, purchase small mass books for the children, such as OSV's The Mass Book for Children. This will make them want to go to Mass so they can use their new gift.

• Send a short flyer home each week to remind parents of Mass times, readings, coffee and doughnuts after Mass, other things to tweak their interest and commitment.

• Each week ask the children what they learned or liked best about Mass last week. They will want to be a part of the conversation and it will also get you some idea about who is not going to Mass. Those families can be approached on an individual basis.

Some things to keep in mind are:

• Families are much more complex than they were even 10 years ago. We need to help them set priorities, beginning with GOD.

• Your best allies are the children. Make them want to go to Mass and they will take their parents.

• Engage “new” people in your efforts to help with child care, being present to children in the classroom and at Mass, to get to know the families who are having challenges in getting to Mass.