This past weekend, I preached on the topic of hospitality and how the Church is supposed to grow: that the Church is supposed to look outwards, and that it was never meant to be inward or self-referential. If a parish loses sight of why it exists - that the Church exists to evangelize - then we can lose sight of people who are outside of the Church, or even those Catholics who are drifting from parish to parish, or struggling with their faith.
Through our strategic planning process, we have discerned that God desires our parish to become one which is alive and active, so that people want to be here; that we would be amazing at welcoming newcomers and parishioners alike; that people feel welcomed here from the moment they come into this building or onto the property, and they thus are given an opportunity to encounter God; that no matter where they are on their journey, they can choose to continue that journey here with us.
In order to help bring this about, one of our objectives for the fall will be to establish a hospitality team. While everyone at the parish is important in creating a culture of hospitality, we need a team of individuals dedicated to make that happen. And in creating this team of volunteers, we are not simply looking for the first 20 people who put up their hands to volunteer. What we really want is a team of individuals who have the right gifts and charisms and heart for welcoming people.
We are encouraging people to pray and discern as to whether they may be a good fit for this hospitality ministry. Then stay tuned for more information in the fall on how to get involved.
In the meantime, I am encouraging you to begin now to be intentional about hospitality. When we come to Mass or parish events, let's notice newcomers and familiar faces alike. Let's always be on the lookout for people we may not know. Then to introduce ourselves and welcome them. I asked people to do this after all the Masses this past weekend and it was amazing to see the smiles and the joy it brought to so many people. I encourage you to continue to do this, even though it may feel forced or we may be shy. Hospitality makes a huge difference and eventually it will just become a usual part of our parish culture.
So, in case you missed the homily from this past weekend you can check it out below. Also, if you haven't already done so, be sure to check out our Strategic Plan for St. Maurice Parish which was released back in June.