Sunday, 10 April 2016

Hospitality Ministers - Some Observations

An important task of the parish community is to reach out to all people with Christian love and service. Christian hospitality draws people together, opens them to participation, and sets the tone for the liturgy. The hospitality ministry is crucial because it is so visible in the Church. The attitude, conduct and even the appearance of the hospitality minister directly affects, either positively or negatively, the experience of the faithful at Mass.

Those who desire to serve as hospitality ministers should be active and faithful members of the Church. They should have respect for others, discretion and appropriate decorum. The ministers should be noted for their care to the assembly. Moreover, the ministers should be comfortable meeting and greeting others. They must always extend a sense of welcome to others and make them feel at home. Such qualities are a blessing, especially to the stranger in our midst.

Tasks Before the Liturgy
  1. Hospitality Ministers should greet and welcome the faithful as they gather for worship.
  2. They should be at each of the entrances of the church.
  3. They should avoid gathering in only one area of the church, and avoid speaking only with their fellow ministers.
Tasks During the Liturgy
  1. Hospitality Ministers are part of the worshipping community and they are to participate fully in the music, responses, and prayers of the liturgy.
  2. However, certain duties of the minister may limit his or her ability to participate.
  3. Yet, every effort should be made by the hospitality ministers to be models of participation in the worship of the Church.
  4. Hospitality ministers should note the following:
    1. Facilitate the seating of latecomers with as little disturbance as possible, at the conclusion of the Opening Prayer or at the conclusion of the First Reading or Responsorial Psalm.
    2. Collect the offerings of the people. Both the faithful and the offerings are to be treated with utmost dignity and reverence. The faithful should be given adequate time to deposit their gifts during the collection.
    3. Appoint and assist those who will be taking up the gifts in the procession for the Preparation of the Gifts.
    4. Direct the communion procession in an orderly manner.
    5. Be aware of the placement of first aid supplies and other emergency facilities should the need arise.
Tasks After the Liturgy
  1. Hospitality ministers should distribute the parish bulletins and any other materials, especially to those who have not taken one at the entrances of the church.
  2. They should also be available to assist those with special needs.
  3. Where possible, they should assist in preparing the worship space for the next liturgy, making sure it is well organised and inviting.
It is desirable to commission hospitality ministers for a specified period of time. This allows the ministers to evaluate their service and determine if they wish to continue to participate in this ministry or perhaps change to another ministry at the end of their term. This also allows the parish priest to evaluate and advice on whether certain persons should consider a different ministry. It is best for the individual and the parish if a person serves in only one ministry at any given time. Training sessions should be conducted regularly to assist hospitality ministers in becoming familiar with all aspects of their service. Having appropriate knowledge and training will help ministers to function effectively and bring confidence and joy to their experience.

There may be many other aspects concerning hospitality ministry which may be absent from this article. As such, it is desirable that members of the hospitality ministry, with the guidance of the parish priest, come up with relevant guidelines and procedures unique to the parish, so that the people of God would be cared for and feel welcomed to the banquet of the Lord. May you bring the love and joy of Christ in your efforts in being hospitable, and may others come to know we are Christians by our love and concern.

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