Rethinking Parish Hospitality
There is an ancient axiom used by the Benedictine Order: Hospes venit, Christus venit. That is to say, when the guest comes, Christ comes. This was a motto applied to those seeking shelter in monasteries, but it is a motto, which I strongly believe should be applied to any parish, but in particular, ours.
Let’s face it, friends, by-and-by Catholic Churches are not known for being welcoming communities (though I do feel like we are far better than average here at SES). Imagine for one moment that you had no connection whatsoever with the Catholic Church, and found yourself in our space on Sunday morning. Would you know where to park and where to enter the Church? Assuming you found your way in, would you be greeted? Would someone help you find a place to sit? Would you endure snarls from some, if you sat in “their” seat? Would you find the liturgy itself intimidating with all of it’s movements, gestures, and responses? Would anyone go out of their way to make you feel at home? It seems that it’s time to rethink hospitality in our parish, and I think it’s time to go outside the box.
Having made this statement, I would like to personally invite anyone who is passionate about making people feel welcome to join our new ministry. We will call this new ministry “CV” – for Christus Venit – to remind us who we are welcoming. We are looking forward to CV being a large ministry composed of several CV teams including: A parking team to help get people settled in the parking lot and get into the Church building. A host team that will welcome and offer to help seat everyone who walks through the doors. Another group will be at a table in the vestibule to help answer questions people may have about the parish, and to help them register should they like, and also a team of people who would be willing to sit with someone unfamiliar with the Catholic Mass to help them feel at home with a ritual that is foreign to them. If you are interested in this ministry of hospitality, please contact myself or Hector Salazar (contact info here). Let’s work together to be good hosts and make people feel welcome here at St. Elizabeth Seton. Together, we will welcome Christ in our parish.
In Christ Jesus, Fr. Casey