By Rosina Henrickson
The early Christian community was known by its love — for each other, for strangers, for those on the margins of society, for the sick, lonely, ill, thirsty and imprisoned.
The love and care, generosity and kindness shown to each other were the things people noticed!
If we want our parishes to be places of welcome, belonging and hospitality, we have to first show it to one another — beautifully, abundantly and consistently. We have to do this with generous hearts and joy. That’s what is contagious about our faith! It should be an expectation for every ministry. People will model what they experience and that is how we change hearts, lead others to Jesus and transform the world around us.
Oftentimes, hospitality can seem like fluff or icing on the cake. It is viewed as the table decorations, refreshments and the welcome at the door. It’s not the substance of the meeting or program, so it is the item we leave out or it’s the first thing to go when we don’t have time, money or someone to do it.
Hospitality is indispensable and integral to all that we do. It is what helps us create warm, welcoming, friendly and authentic parishes and communities. Hospitality is a learned charism meant for everyone in the faith community, not just a committee or a person. Hospitality is practiced and lived by all, for the sake of sharing joy, building community and growing faith.
Jane Angha wrote the above comments in recent newsletters for Ministry Blueprints, the organization she founded to train, equip and empower parish leaders and ministers to create warm and welcoming environments for those they serve. She also shares some recent conversations she had with young adults about their experiences seeking a parish community. These responses call us to be mindful of our presence, welcome and hospitality:
• I went to almost every Mass offered by the parish – and not once did anyone say hello or even smile at me.
• I was invited to a newcomer Mass and welcome breakfast, but I didn’t know where to sit, what to do and had no one to sit with at breakfast, so I just left.
• I am a musician … and tried to sign up to do that, but they said they were full and didn’t need any more sopranos.
As parishioners and parishes, we are called to examine and reflect on our obstacles to growth, vibrancy and hospitality and to do something to overcome those obstacles. We need to name and begin to tackle them. We recognize that hospitality and welcome that leads to belonging takes time, commitment, authenticity, consistency and involves the whole community.
That’s why the Diocese of Davenport’s Office of Faith Formation has partnered with Ministry Blueprints to sponsor a workshop on “Creating Contagious Welcome and Hospitality” on Oct. 10 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at St. Mary Parish in Solon.
We will explore the theology of hospitality and identify practical ways to infuse genuine welcome and hospitality in all that we do. Participants will leave the workshop renewed with hope and joy for our parishes and communities.
Please join us for this workshop to discover how our parishes and communities can work together to be a city set on a hill, a light to shine for all.
For more information on or to register, please visit http://www.davenportdiocese.org/ff-hospitality or contact Rosina Hendrickson at email@example.com or call 563) 888-4244.
Oct. 10 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at St. Mary Parish, 1749 Racine Ave. NE, Solon. Cost is $35 by Sept. 22 or $45 between Sept. 23 and Oct. 7, the registration deadline.
(Rosina Hendrickson is the Lifelong Faith and Ministry Formation Coordinator for the Diocese of Davenport.)