You may have seen in your parish bulletin that one of the Sunday Masses is scheduled “For the People”. In some bulletins they still use the Latin, “Pro Populo“, or perhaps they vary the wording a bit, such as “For the People of the Parish”. But generally speaking, there should be one such intention for every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation. Here is what the Code of Canon Law says about it:
After a pastor has taken possession of his parish, he is obliged to apply a Mass for the people entrusted to him on each Sunday and holy day of obligation in his diocese. [Canon 534 – canon 540 extends this also to Parish Administrators]
It is commonly understood in the Church that a pastor has care for all of the people within his parish boundaries, not just for Catholics. For example, read what the Code of Canon Law has to say about his obligation to preach the Word of God and to evangelize his parish:
A pastor is obliged to make provision so that the Word of God is proclaimed in its entirety to those living in the parish; for this reason, he is to take care that the lay members of the Christian faithful are instructed in the truths of the faith, especially by giving a homily on Sundays and holy days of obligation and by offering catechetical instruction. He is to foster works through which the spirit of the gospel is promoted, even in what pertains to social justice. He is to have particular care for the Catholic education of children and youth. He is to make every effort, even with the collaboration of the Christian faithful, so that the message of the gospel comes also to those who have ceased the practice of their religion or do not profess the true faith. (Canon 528)
So, on those 57 or so days a year when Mass is offered “for the people of the parish”, it is being offered not only for you, but for all who live within the parish boundaries, even those who have another faith or no faith at all!
And this is a wonderful thing that you can share with your non-Catholic neighbors. Tell them: We are praying for you each week. We hope you will someday join us. The door is open. Can I answer any questions for you about the Catholic faith?
This is, in fact, one of the of the ways that you can collaborate with your pastor in his work of proclaiming the Word of God to the entire parish. And you never know what kind of seed that will plant in your neighbors’ hearts, to know that we pray even for them and offer what is most important and most sacred to us, the Holy Eucharist, for them as well!