Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Lucia The Catholic Ministry of Hospitality

This weekend, the Wellington Diocese is hosting a Stewardship Conference at St Patrick's College in Kilbirnie. Don't think about trying to attend as registration closed on August 8 and it would have cost you $220.  Not that there is anything wrong with charging for a conference.  I mention the registration and the cost, just in case any amateur journalists try to get in to report on the goings-on at the last minute.

I've been trying to find out more about this whole concept of "Stewardship" and why a conference is needed to teach it, but to no avail. A number of sites do promote Stewardship, but they don't really say what it is beyond a sentimental description that could mean anything. However, I eventually found the online brochure for this weekend's conference, which then linked to the an Australian website, which had a bit more information in some resource documents.  Here's the document on Hospitality:

Stewardship and Hospitality & Welcome
The goal of the Hospitality & Welcome is to show the love of Christ to all of our parishioners and guests and welcome them in such a way that they would want to return.
Hospitality and welcome is one of the signs of a stewardship parish. While the ministry of hospitality is the responsibility of every member of the parish, it is important that the parish priest, staff, parish leaders and parishioners encourage a welcoming atmosphere. They ought to be models of hospitality in all aspects of their ministry.

The ministry of hospitality does require some degree of planning and organization. Depending on the size of your parish, the ministry of hospitality may require a separate dedicated committee, or it may be accomplished by a sub-committee of the Pastoral Council or Stewardship Committee.

Specific training for the Ministry of Hospitality can be found on the Powerful Points resource available from the Liturgical Commission:
This powerpoint resource provides trainers notes and workshop materials for participants.

Welcoming the New Parishioner
Depending on the size of your parish, consider some or all of the following activities to welcome visitors and new parishioners to your parish.
  • Parish Priest sends a welcome letter and/or makes a personal phone call.
  • Recognize visitors at Mass.
  • Assign a “sponsoring family” to call and/or visit a new family.
  • Provide a “newcomers basket” with such items as parish note cards, recipe book, calendar, directory, and home baked goods.
  • Have monthly/quarterly newcomers reception or dinner.
  • Provide a “newcomers packet” of information on the parish as well as community resources.
  • Have a ‘welcome desk’ before and after Mass. This can be a great job for the extroverts in the parish.
  • Display a “Book of Welcome” in a prominent place for visitors and newcomers to sign.
  • Provide a list of parishioner-owned businesses or services.
  • Make it a point to extend a personal invitation to parish activities for the first 6 months.
  • Invite newcomers to stand and all pray a “Prayer of Welcome” at Mass.
  • Recognize new members in the bulletin, at Mass, or on with pictures on the bulletin board.

On-going Hospitality
Depending on the size of your parish, consider some or all of the following activities as a means of on-going hospitality for all parishioners.
  • Use trained Ministers of Hospitality (Greeters) with name tags at all Masses.
  • Encourage social time with refreshments after Mass.
  • Have special ministers with a regular connection to the homebound.
  • Remember parishioner’s special days (birthday, anniversary, awards, honors, etc.).
  • Have a team of hospitality ministers make a “How are you doing?” phone call every 6 months.
  • Remember special occasions in bulletin or newsletter.
  • Publish photos of parish events on bulletin board and/or parish website.
  • Establish a program of bereavement ministry to the family.
  • Provide trained ministers for outreach to the sick and those in nursing homes.
  • Have receptions to celebrate special events such as First Communion, Confirmation, RCIA, etc.
  • Provide outreach to people with disabilities at Mass and special events
  • Provide nursery and child care at all adult activities.
  • Show appreciation through special events, phone calls and mailings.
Some of the points listed are very worthwhile, while as others are annoying.  It seems like aim is to shift the focus from going to Mass to going to a Catholic social club, for instance having special "Greeters" at the door is ridiculous.  The parish I left a couple of years ago that did many of things on the list made me feel like it was more important to be "involved" than to participate in the Sacraments.

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