For many individuals and families alike, summer means travel. And summer travel may mean new visitors to our parish for weekend liturgies. Providing hospitality to strangers is a hallmark of Christian stewardship. In the Gospel of Matthew good stewards were commended for their hospitality: “I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Matthew 25:35). Saint Benedict directed his followers to receive guests and travelers as if they were Christ. Extending hospitality is especially important when it comes to welcoming visitors who may be attending Mass at our parish for the first time.
There is a lot of anecdotal evidence suggesting that the ability of a first-time visitor to have a meaningful experience of Christ in the liturgy is directly impacted by the warmth of the welcome extended by the local worshipping community. When people say hello, the worship experience is enhanced. A warm welcome is part of evangelization, work necessary in a church’s mission to help people discover or renew their faith in Christ.
How do we treat the unknown person who walks by us in church, or who sits next to us at Mass? Do we take the initiative to greet them, smile, extend a warm handshake? Remember, we are Christ’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20). Our actions and reactions toward visitors at Mass communicate who we are and Who we represent. Let us take time to welcome visitors to our parish this summer. Welcoming gestures, however small, will not only have a positive impact on visitors, they will make us more hospitable ambassadors of
Ten Commandments for Welcoming Visitors at Mass (the remaining 5)
Welcoming newcomers to your parish is not just the job of the pastoral staff, ushers, ministers of hospitality or
greeters. It is everyone’s responsibility. In addition to last week’s five, here are the remaining five things you can do
to provide better hospitality in your parish.
6. Say goodbye with genuine warmth. After Mass, bid farewell to visitors, inviting them to return next week. Introduce them to the pastor if the opportunity arises.
7. Avoid parish business. Avoid conducting parish business with others immediately before or after Mass. Focus on visitors.
8. Give visitors information about the parish. Ensure that a visitor has a bulletin and other information about the parish before they leave. If there is a social gathering after Mass, invite them.
9. Be part of a greeting ministry team. We are always in need of greeters to serve regularly, and provide ongoing formation to new greeters. Help out, be a greeter. See or contact Cindy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 521-8440.
10. Greet those who already minister in the area of hospitality. It isn’t necessary to neglect the people who are already ministers of hospitality in order to make visitors feel at home. A simple wave and a smile go a long way.