Welcoming and Hospitality
This pastoral objective offers opportunities to “stimulate the whole community to create a welcoming and accessible environment for hospitality and evangelization through embracing a Spirituality of Communion.” Take a look at examples on how parishes considered this objective and the action plans each parish created.
Prior to Mass at Sacred Heart of Jesus in Manvel, Fr. Tom greets the entire congregation and walks throughout the church acknowledging visitors and new parishioners. He encourages them to introduce themselves and where they are from. A deacon hands the visitor a "Welcome Packet" that contains a Rosary, prayer booklet, and listing of the different church ministries with contact information.
This practice has attracted new people to the church and made them feel welcome. Current parishioners often take time after Mass to talk to the visitors and new parishioners. The result is a closer community at Sacred Heart. Sacred Heart declared an action plan to “Engage new and visiting parishioners through a Welcome program at all Masses.”
St. Cecilia in the Memorial neighborhood of Houston also wanted to improve its hospitality programs. The New Parishioner Welcoming Program and Welcoming Committee holds a monthly program for parishioners to meet the Pastor and Parish leadership and to learn about St. Cecilia parish membership. After registration, a welcoming letter and packet is sent to new parishioners; a quarterly dinner is held to further welcome them and build fellowship. Efforts are underway to provide a personal contact for each new parishioner to answer questions and ensure they have opportunities to become quickly engaged in parish life.
The New Parishioner Welcoming Program has been met with much enthusiasm and reinvigorated the parish's greeter and usher programs at the Masses. A sense of warmth and community is growing. This parish activity started simply with an action plan to “Establish a Welcoming Committee and a monthly program to meet parish staff.”
With a large multi-ethnic parish community, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Northwest Houston formed a Hospitality Ministry where parishioners would greet parishioners and visitors at the church entrance before every weekend Mass.
The parish also developed a public awareness campaign, ministry of the month, and program to unify the parish's rich diversity. Materials included a Spirituality of Communion banner, flyers for the bulletin, and web site updates to emphasize the campaign and the many ministries offered at the parish. Messages were delivered throughout religious education classes, schools, and Mass.
With a multi-cultural parish who wanted to enhance hospitality, this parish addressed the opportunity with an action plan to “Create a Spirituality of Communion committee to address hospitality and the challenge of integrating intercultural and ethnic perspectives in our English, Spanish, and Vietnamese communities.”
The parish at St. John the Baptist in Alvin developed a standard form to capture visitor and new parishioner information. Then they created a new guidebook and recruited volunteers to be a part of the ministry. This parish’s action plan simply proclaims to “Build a hospitality ministry.”
St. Michael, in the Galleria area, put together a comprehensive action plan. The first activity was a Movie Night for parish families held on the sports field at St. Michael. It was a huge success and is now planned to be an annual event. In addition, an annual festival/picnic is being established. Other ideas include an outdoor mass or a "come as you are" mass invitation at the Saturday evening mass.
The parish also developed a new Welcome booklet is mailed to each new parishioner with the Monsignor's welcome letter. Pastoral Council members also take turns each week to call new parishioners; response is very positive. The church now has a fully stocked Welcome Center in the Usher's Closet and at the Church Office with all registration and sign-up forms both for Parish and outreach activities.
St. Michael’s has designated this activity as: “Reformulate both direct and indirect efforts to welcome new parishioners with families.