Who Do People See As They Come to Our Church?

Carmel Bulletin, 27 October 2018

In the Gospel reading at Mass today, Bartimaeus is healed of his blindness.  He has the faith and courage to ask Jesus to do what would be impossible for mere mortals like us.  It seems likely that the first thing that Bartimaeus sees is the face of Jesus – a face of love, mercy and compassion.

Each of us is called to be that same face of Jesus to everyone we encounter in our lives.  And as we call ourselves Catholics, it seems only fair that we should start “in our own backyard”, or more precisely, at our own church doors.  A simple smile, a word of welcome, being there to answer a question or help with an issue can be crucial to ensuring that when people come here for Mass, they see in us the same Jesus that Bartimaeus saw.

Do you want to help people feel like they belong when they come to Mass?  We’re looking for people who can spend some time before Mass serving as welcomers, greeting people as they arrive and helping them to join in our gathering and celebration.

If you are interested in joining a team of people who provide hospitality to those who come to Sunday Mass, we invite you to attend an introductory workshop on

Wednesday 7 November at 7:00 pm in the Parish Centre

Register for the workshop now

If you have any questions, contact us.

Help Us Build a Welcoming Community

In the Gospel reading at Mass today, Jesus sets the challenge for the disciples: living in the likeness of Christ requires us to place ourselves at the service of others.

When we gather for Mass, that service to others begins from the moment people walk in the door.  Our vision as a parish is that families feel connected, supported and valued as they live and grow in their faith.  Making people feel welcome when they come to Mass is crucial to beginning that relationship.

We’re looking for people who want to make a difference to making feel welcome when they come to Mass by joining our hospitality ministry.  In particular, we’re looking for people who can spend some time before Mass serving as welcomers, greeting people as they arrive and helping them to join into our gathering and celebration.

If you are interested in being part of our welcoming ministry at Sunday Mass, we invite you to attend an introductory workshop:

Wednesday 7 November at 7:00 pm in the Parish Centre

Register for the workshop now

Music and Hospitality

Carmel Bulletin, 14 August 2016

The Second Vatican Council’s instruction on music said: “One cannot find anything more religious and more joyful in sacred celebrations than a whole congregation expressing its faith and devotion in song” (Musicam Sacram, no. 16).  That, of course, is easier said than done!

While it may take effort to encourage everyone in the church to sing, it can also be easy to discourage singing.  Different factors can contribute to people feeling that they are not encouraged to join in the music that is being led by the music ministers.  In turn, we now have in the Church plenty of statistical and anecdotal evidence that proves that people’s engagement and connection with the music in liturgical celebrations is a key factor in them wanting to return to a particular parish community.

Parish Vision StatementAs part of our parish vision that all families feel supported, connected and valued as they live and grow in their faith, and our strategy to welcome all who come to worship, our Liturgy Committee and music leaders have been working on a way to develop a more focused and consistent music repertoire.  As it is developed and implemented, we hope this repertoire will help everyone in our parish know what we’re singing.

Liturgical Ministry Has a Spiritual Side

Carmel Bulletin, 30 August 2015

Commentator at MassOften when we consider the skills and gifts that a parishioner brings to liturgical ministry, we think of very practical things.  Music ministers obviously need to be able to sing or play an instrument.  Ministers of the Word need to be able to project their voice and speak clearly.  Altar servers need to be observant, aware of what is happening around them, and able to act and respond calmly and quietly.

Such skills that we see our ministers demonstrate each week are what we might describe as “technical” skills.  They are what are required in order to fulfil the functional elements of their role.  These, however, are only one part of a minister’s skill set.

We also need to consider what we might describe as “spiritual” skills.  These may not be as clearly measurable, but are equally important in exercising one’s ministry fully.  Recently, our Liturgy Committee began considering how our parish ministers express hospitality; how they make people feel welcome and encourage prayer and participation within their role.  Other traits as well, such as reverence, prayerfulness, humility and gratitude can all be found in ministers whose contribution to our community is motivated not by self-interest, but by their faith, their love of God, and their desire to be of service to others.

This week our community lost someone who dedicated himself to liturgical ministry (to say nothing of the many other ways he served our parish) for decades.  Those of us who served with Brian Flynn learnt much from him.  He showed us all that good liturgical ministers need to be both technically skilled and spiritually grounded.  Our parish has been enriched by his remarkable contribution.  May he rest in peace.

Welcome and Hospitality

Carmel Bulletin, 14 June 2015

Parish Vision StatementRecently, the pastoral council facilitated a parish forum that was focused on our parish vision that all families feel supported, connected and valued as they live and grow in their faith.  At that forum, some people recalled the practice of a former parish priest, Fr Laurie, who encouraged us to greet each other once we had gathered for Mass.

I have written here previously about the timing and meaning of the Rite of Peace at Mass, and about hospitality at Mass.  What the reflections of those who were present raised, however, was the obvious need for hospitality as part of our liturgical ministry to each other, and as a part of extending welcome and support to those who, for whatever reason, find themselves at our church even though they are not a regular participant in our celebrations.

One of the strategies that the pastoral council has identified from the feedback given at the forum is to extend welcome to new parishioners and to all who come to worship.  Over the coming months, the Liturgy Committee will begin to look at this in greater depth, examining what genuine welcome and hospitality look like in the context of the liturgy and ministry, and what steps we can take to strengthen this aspect of our parish life.

Of course, however, that doesn’t leave everyone else off the hook!  The vision is not the pastoral council vision, or the liturgy committee vision, but the parish vision.  It is still up to every one of us to work together to make people feel like they can truly belong to our faith community.