Returning to Church: Safe Landings

POST BY DRobinson

Young man praying at Farm st church, london
Mass at Farm st church, london

Landings, the programme for returning Catholics whose UK base is here at Farm Street, is starting a new year, and also a new chapter.  First of all, our team would like to thank the parishioners of Farm Street sincerely for the opportunity to speak about the Programme at Masses two Sundays ago.  And for the very generous funds raised, which have now reached £2,417-51.  Very many thanks for your generosity and interest in the programme. 

But Landings is not about programmes, projects, or indeed funds, although we certainly still do need them to develop and expand Farm Street as the Landings London hub.  Do you know of anyone who is contemplating returning to a more regular practice of the faith?  If so, at the start of a new year, this is a good time to make a suggestion.  Here at Farm Street we are about to embark on a new season of the Programme and once again we will, first of all, be holding open evenings to introduce the Programme.  Everyone is welcome, both those who are contemplating the possibility of doing the programme and those who have made the personal recommendation to friend, family member, colleague, whoever. Dates will be available shortly.   

The Landings Programme, successful across parishes in the US, UK and Singapore over 30 years, is specifically for anyone who is thinking about returning to the Catholic Church.  Other programmes such as the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) or Catholic Alpha will welcome those coming into the Church from no religious background or from another Christian denomination.  Landings, however, addresses a specific niche: those who have been brought up Catholic but have fallen away or are on the cusp of leaving, for whatever reason that is.  Sometimes the factors involved in Catholics falling away are complex and tragic: relationship issues, a tragic incident, or they have been hurt by priests or others with responsibility in the community.  Sometimes those who wish to return have simply found they have drifted away.  Regardless of the reasons, the Programme aims to listen first through the work of a skilled and compassionate team.  Here at Farm Street this is made up of about six individuals who give of their many gifts and enthusiasm for their faith so wonderfully generously.  Those who return then often join the team for the next series. 

The Landings Programme also focusses on all the aspects of Catholic faith and life contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  Each week an aspect of the Church’s doctrinal or moral teaching is addressed through presentations and discussions.  This is not the primary aim, however.  Above all we aim to be a place first of all of compassionate listening.  The group listens respectfully and without judgement to one another’s faith story and reflections on the theme, viewing each as something uniquely personal and sacred. Participants are invited to be honest and open about struggles with their faith and to share in confidence and only what they feel comfortable sharing.  The Programme thus helps people to discern the way forward in freedom, to reach out to learn more and embrace the fullness of faith and the faith community of the Church once more. 

There are many more in our midst.  Many who so inspiringly fill our church at Easter and Christmas.  All it might take is a word of encouragement to welcome them as more regular members of our faith community here in all its wonderful diversity.  So, if you know of someone who might benefit from the Programme please point them in the direction of any of the Farm Street clergy or Ruby Almeida, the Landings London co-ordinator, at or invite them to an introductory session. 

Above all we ask your prayers for the development and expansion of the Landings Programme.  It is a vital part of our parish life here at Farm Street as a centre of reconciliation, welcome and hospitality.  And once again many thanks sincerely for the generous donations received.  They will go towards the creation of a new post here at Farm Street to work on outreach to parishes, prison and student chaplaincies in the London area, through training volunteer teams and bringing returners also to the Farm Street Programme and so our parish.  So very many thanks once again. 

Fr Dominic Robinson, SJ