Strengthening Bonds: Understanding Your Parish’s
Spring Audience

Catherine Cunning


As spring blossoms, Catholic parishes are graced with the return of some of our most valued members—snowbirds. These individuals, typically grandparents, migrate south during the winter months and return to our northern communities in the spring. They bring with them not just stories of warmer weather, but a wealth of experience, faith, and a deep connection to their home parishes. Reaching out to these returnees is crucial, not just for fundraising but for fostering a sense of belonging within your parish family. Week 2 of our journey to engage with returning members focuses on understanding this unique audience. 

Delving into Demographics: Who Are Our Returnees?

To effectively reach out to this demographic, you must first understand who they are and what they bring to your parish. They are typically retirees who escape harsh northern winters in favor of warmer southern climates. They often have strong ties to your parish, having been active members for years, if not decades. They may or may not be registered parishioners at another parish, but they think of your church as “home.”

Demographically, this is a diverse group. While many are grandparents, some are empty nesters and others may be single retirees or couples without children. Take the time to go through your data to understand who they are and the invaluable presence they have not only within their families but also within your parish.

Their Role in Passing Down Faith Traditions

Grandparents (and older folks youngsters grow accustomed to seeing) hold a special place within our Catholic faith community. They often are keepers of cherished traditions, the storytellers who pass down the rich tapestry of our faith from one generation to the next. Their influence extends far beyond family gatherings; it permeates the very fabric of our parish life.

Grandparents also play a crucial role in nurturing the faith of their grandchildren. Whether it’s through bedtime prayers, Sunday Mass attendance, or sharing stories of their own spiritual journey, grandparents leave an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of the young ones entrusted to their care. Their wisdom, patience, and unwavering faith serve as guiding lights for future generations.

Common Summer Vacations Challenges

While summer vacations should be a time of relaxation and rejuvenation, they also can present challenges for families, particularly in maintaining their spiritual practices and connection to your church. As families scatter to various destinations, attending Mass together may become difficult. Moreover, the distractions of travel and leisure activities can sometimes overshadow the importance of nurturing one’s faith.

During these times, the support of the Church becomes paramount. It’s essential for parish communities to provide resources and opportunities for families to stay connected to their faith, even when they’re away. Whether it’s offering virtual Mass services, providing spiritual guidance through online platforms, or organizing faith-based activities for vacationing families, parishes can serve as a beacon of light amidst the summer haze.

The Importance of Church Support 

For snowbirds and their families, supporting the Church is not just beneficial—it’s essential. As they prepare to embark on their summer adventures, they carry the blessings of your parish community. Offering special prayers for folks who are travelling is one way to connect. But beyond spiritual support, parishes also can offer practical assistance. Link to  Mass schedules at popular destinations. Offer pastoral care and support for any challenges they may encounter on their travels. Provide Catholic coloring books, travel games or apps that will engage families as they drive. By extending your outreach beyond the confines of your church walls, you reaffirm your commitment to being a true family of faith.

As we reflect on the importance of reaching out to snowbirds in our Catholic parishes, let us remember that they are not just members of our congregation—they are cherished members of our family. By understanding their demographics, honoring the role of grandparents in passing down faith traditions, and providing support during summer vacations, we strengthen the bonds that unite us as a parish community.

In the weeks ahead, we’ll explore creative ways to engage with these parishioners, ensuring that they feel welcomed, valued, and supported at every step. If you need help connecting with them sooner, reach out to us today!

— The Cunneen Group

Not certain how to ask for special gifts from returning parishioners during this spring fundraising season? Is your parish staff too strapped to take it on themselves? We can help with a quick turnaround offertory enhancement program that will put your parish on a much stronger financial footing before summer vacations. Reach out to us today!