Carmel Bulletin, 8 February 2015
There’s a hardware retailer that has large, green stores all over the country that clearly trains its staff to do a very simple task. Almost every time you pass an employee in the store, they make a point of saying hello.
The whole point of this is that people feel welcome. If they feel welcome, then they’re more likely to return. That’s why many churches and parish communities have turned their attention to the hospitality they provide when people come to worship.
We certainly do our part; there may be people at the door handing out the Carmel and saying hello. There may be tea and coffee available after Mass in the parish centre. Yet this is only one part of the hospitality we need to provide.
The manner by which the priest leads the community in prayer, the way the Ministers of the Word prepare their readings and proclaim them well, and the way musicians support the assembly in the singing of acclamations and hymns are just some ways our liturgical ministers provide hospitality to those who gather to pray.
Yet we are all called to show hospitality to others. It can be as simple as moving a little further down the pew to let someone else take a seat. It’s the warm smile that comes with the words “Peace be with you” at the sign of peace. If a visitor has a question, can we answer it, or direct them to someone who can help them? Making sure that the church is clean also helps contribute to hospitality.
Hospitality, therefore, is everyone’s business. It’s not just a job a few people volunteer to do, but something that is part of the culture of vibrant, welcoming parishes. Not only does it encourage people to participate fully, consciously and actively in the liturgy, but it’s also crucial to us achieving our vision to help families feel connected, supported and valued.