The Inner Ring in action


Let me tell you of the conversation I recently had with another Catholic mother. She and her husband have a  child who was briefly at a local mainstream Catholic primary school and who now attends another non-Catholic school. I asked her if she had been to the toddler group run on the premises of their nearest Catholic church. She hesitated and said she had been. She hesitated again and then said that she had not been back more than a couple of times. I asked her why not. She looked embarrassed. (She is not the kind of person who looks to criticise.) She explained that she had felt very excluded. She had walked in to find various small clusters of people all of whom clearly knew each other and who were all talking earnestly together. No one made the effort to include her and she had felt very much an outsider. She went back only a couple of times. The same thing, she went on to explain, happened when she went to the initial parent's evening for the Catholic primary. She had come away devastated, having been made to feel an irredeemable outsider. This is a story I have heard more than once over the last five years from mothers.

This phenomenon of cliqueishness is not confined to one Church or Parish; I have heard similar comments from other mothers about other
Catholic Churches and Parish groups. The problem is not exclusively British and not confined to one group or certain kinds of people; it is a fundamental part of fallen human nature in which we all have a part. None of us is immune and to avoid falling into the trap we need each of us, each day anew to consciously make the effort to meet other Catholics of all backgrounds in an open way.