Welcoming newcomers to our parish is not just the job of the pastoral staff, ushers, ministers of hospitality or greeters. It is everyone’s responsibility. Here are ten things you can do to provide better hospitality in our parish.
1. Cultivate the virtue of hospitality at Mass. Many parishioners tend to gather into little cliques and ignore those who are not members of their particular clique. They are not really inhospitable, just heedless of the need for hospitality. Make hospitality a new habit when you come to Mass.
2. Come early, leave late. Instead of rushing to Mass to be there on time, and then rushing out at its conclusion, make time to come a little early and linger just a bit later. Make room in your busy life to greet and spend time with others at Mass.
3. Go in peace to greet someone! Seek out someone you’ve not met before. Shake their hand, introduce yourself, and take a few moments to welcome them to our parish home, God’s house.
4. Welcome everyone. Not only do visitors need your warm welcome, regular Mass attendees also need a friendly greeting. Develop a good handshake and be enthusiastic about our parish. You are greeting others in the name of Christ.
5. Help newcomers connect. While you are getting to know visitors, introduce them to other parishioners as the opportunity presents itself. Feel free to invite visitors to sit next to you.
6. Say goodbye with genuine warmth. After Mass, bid farewell to visitors, inviting them to return next week. Introduce them to the celebrant 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, such as Coffee & Donuts, invite them.
9. Be part of a greeting ministry team. Parishes are always in need of greeters to serve regularly, and provide ongoing formation to new greeters. Help out, be a greeter. If your parish doesn’t have greeters, now is a good time to start!
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.