This week’s column isn’t necessarily On Mission for the Church Alive! Related, but you could say it’s inspired by On Mission. What I mean by that is, at the time of this writing, I don’t have any new information to share with you, but I do have a couple things for you to think and pray about. Maybe these apply to you; maybe they don’t. All I ask is that you give them your consideration anyway.
We know that when implementation happens in October, things are going to change. The most immediate impact will be to the Mass schedule. What the finished product will look like has yet to be determined, but we know it will be different, and that’s going to force some people to change their Sunday routine. This will be true throughout the Diocese, not just here. The second biggest change, I think, will be the change in clergy staffing the parishes. And while it really shouldn’t matter who the celebrant is, or who the homilist is, I’m not naïve enough to think that is the case. Those changes, too, could make an impact on people’s Sunday routines.
My point is this: you’re very likely going to encounter new people at your Mass come October. Already, there are people doing some church-shopping in advance of what’s to come. This, then, is an excellent time for us to work on our hospitality. Please don’t think I’m accusing anyone of being inhospitable – that’s definitely not the case. I’ve always found this parish to be very open and inviting, as have many, many others. But we can’t allow ourselves to get complacent, and we can always improve.
Remember, going to Mass on Sunday is the most important thing you or anyone else is going to do that week. So don’t let people feel like outsiders doing it. When you get to church, move to the center of the pew so late-comers don’t have to climb over you. If you can’t do that, step out of the pew and let them enter. (The church seats roughly 750 people; I assure you, there’s room.) Smile. Greet people. Smile. Turn off your cell phones so they don’t disturb other people’s prayer. Smile. Be patient in the parking lot. Smile. Consider becoming an usher or lector or Eucharistic minister so you can interact with more people. Smile.
On Mission is going to be hard for a lot of people. As I’ve written before, I don’t think it will be that hard here, because this parish is strong, dynamic, and faith-filled. Those are all gifts from God. So let’s use those gifts to be models and examples of hospitality, and to help the bishop fulfill the vision of On Mission for the Church Alive!