Archdiocese works to reconnect with disengaged Catholics through new initiative

NEWARK, 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 nonparishioners through outreach efforts inviting them to join the Church.

 “The parishes within our archdiocese reopened their doors for in-person Masses months ago,” Saporito said. “This effort is designed to open our doors wide to our communities and reintroduce 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 and digital strategy. 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,” Saporito said, adding that 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.”

The name of the initiative comes from the Gospel of John, where Jesus says: “I am the vine; you are the branches.” To learn more about Vine and Branches, visit https://www.rcan.org/VineAndBranches.

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