Generous Hospitality that transforms

Generous Hospitality that transforms

“Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, ‘Speak tenderly to them. Let there be kindness in your face, in your eyes, in your smile, in the warmth of your greeting. Always have a cheerful smile. Don’t give your care, but give your heart as well.’ Living the Gospel is not simply about providing a service to people in need but about a quality of being. Hospitality is not just about opening our doors but opening our very souls.”

Rev. Mark Suslenko
LPi Connect! Sunday Reflection

Over the past five years, at the Diocesan level and at the parish level, we have done many good things to build a culture of Generous Hospitality.  We have had name tag Sundays, hospitality events, invited people to take up the gifts, given away books during the holidays, bought umbrellas and walked people to their cars on a rainy morning, stood outside the church to greet people and noticed that visitors had trouble finding the parking lot to the church, and many other things.  This activity and this focus on hospitality has been good.  It has made a difference in the lives of our people.  

But as I reflect on this coming Sunday’s readings, which focus on hospitality, I am challenged by them and by the quote above from Fr. Suslenko.  As good as these activities are, they aren’t all that the Lord is asking of us when it comes to practicing Generous Hospitality.  As Fr. Suslenko and Mother Teresa say, generous hospitality requires us to give our hearts to another.  In this Sunday’s Gospel Jesus is teaching something about how we can do this.  The story is a familiar one — Jesus is visiting the home of his friends, Mary and Martha.  Mary is sitting at the feet of Jesus and Martha complains, saying, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving?  Tell her to help me.” 

For many years, I viewed this reading as an admonishment to Martha and to us, to be less “human doings” and more “human beings”; a challenge to take time each day to be with the Lord and to value that time above the activity of our lives.  I hear people say, “I am a Martha and not a Mary,”  and thinking themselves less for that.  However, I don’t believe we receive the full measure of the gift of this Gospel story if we persist in seeing it as an either/or — either I am Martha or I am Mary.  I believe there are no effective “Marthas” that are not first “Marys”.  In the same way, every “Mary”, who is genuinely open to the Word of the Lord in prayer, will be asked by Him to enter into the work of His vineyard and will be a “Martha”.  As is so often true in the richness of Catholicism, the deeper truth is that it is a both/and; we are called to be both “Marys” who first receive from the Lord and then to be “Marthas” who are sent into the world to serve. 

Looking at it in this way allows us to do as Mother Teresa asks; to give not just our service, but our hearts as well.  In the quiet of prayer, our hearts can be filled with God who is Love (cf. 1 John 4:8), and in its fullness our hearts will open in compassion to those we serve.  As a consequence, they will receive not just an action, but will experience the incredible love God has for them.  Our actions become a conduit for His love in the world.  This is a Generous Hospitality that has the power to transform the lives of those that receive it. This is the Generous Hospitality that Bishop Gruss envisioned when he gave us our framework for Stewardship.

Let’s continue to strive, through prayer, to prepare our hearts to receive these “holiest of objects” in every situation and place we find ourselves and thus practice a hospitality that transforms.

We’re here to help

Call us at (605) 716-5214 or fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch soon.

 

12 + 13 =

CHANCERY OFFICE

606 Cathedral Drive
Rapid City, SD 57701
(605) 343-3541

CHANCERY ANNEX AT TERRA SANCTA

2101 City Springs Rd Ste 200
Rapid City, SD 57702
(605) 716-5214

TERRA SANCTA RETREAT CENTER

2101 City Springs Rd, Ste 300
Rapid City , SD 57702
(605) 716-0925
stay@terrasancta.org

SAFE ENVIRONMENT

Click here to learn more

VICTIM ASSISTANCE COORDINATOR

Barbara Scherr (605) 209-3418
Summer Hospitality Tips

Summer Hospitality Tips

Summer Hospitality Tips

 

It seems that summer is finally making its way to Western South Dakota. For many in our Diocese, summer means the arrival of out-of-town guests and tourists to our homes and churches.  I was reminded of the young woman from Bismarck who came to Girls Totus Tuus Camp last year because of the warm welcome she and her family received at Blessed Sacrament in Rapid City while here visiting.  And I also remember the story told by Ruth Durst of St. Ambrose’s in Deadwood.  As part of their efforts to increase hospitality, they decided to have hospitality ministers stand outside on the steps of the church when the weather was good.  This proved to be very enlightening.  Parishioners watched as tourists drove around and around trying to find parking near the church. As it turns out, most visitors had no idea the church has a parking lot.  It seemed clear that better signage was needed.

 

Interested in taking a quick pulse of hospitality in your parish?

As you might remember, the Office of Stewardship is working to update our web pages.  In the course of looking over all that had been previously uploaded to our page, I found notes from a workshop at the 2016 International Stewardship Conference titled, “Parish Hospitality:  Much More Than Greeters At the Church Door”.  It is full of suggestions including:

  • Tips for the Front Office
  • Ways of Welcoming New Parishioners
  • Ways of Building a Sense of Belonging
  • 15-Point Checklist for Hospitality
  • Rewards of Generous Hospitality

If you would like to use this resource, you may download it here.

If you are interested in pursuing Generous Hospitality in a more intentional way, consider entering the Stewardship Parish process.  The Office of Stewardship is happy to guide you and provide support at each stage.  Please give us a call if you would like to learn more.

 

We’re here to help

Call us at (605) 716-5214 or fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch soon.

 

4 + 2 =

CHANCERY OFFICE

606 Cathedral Drive
Rapid City, SD 57701
(605) 343-3541

CHANCERY ANNEX AT TERRA SANCTA

2101 City Springs Rd Ste 200
Rapid City, SD 57702
(605) 716-5214

TERRA SANCTA RETREAT CENTER

2101 City Springs Rd, Ste 300
Rapid City , SD 57702
(605) 716-0925
stay@terrasancta.org

SAFE ENVIRONMENT

Click here to learn more

VICTIM ASSISTANCE COORDINATOR

Barbara Scherr (605) 209-3418
The Joy of the Resurrection is Coming!

The Joy of the Resurrection is Coming!

The Joy of the Resurrection is Coming!

“Even now return to me with your whole heart for I am gracious and merciful.”

Gospel Antiphon, Tuesday the 3rd Week of Lent

Often when I am teaching as a catechist, I find myself saying, “In Catholicism it is rarely either/or.  We are a both/and faith!”  I was reminded of one more example of this truth this morning during my commute into work.  Fr. Michel Mulloy and Andy Shaw were interviewing another priest on Real Presence Live about Laetare Sunday.  Laetare means Rejoice and so on this Sunday, a bit more than half way through the somber season of Lent, the Church invites us to rejoice.  One of the interviewers rightly commented that it seems incongruous to rejoice amidst the penances, the fasting and the focus on the suffering and death of our Savior that marks Lent.  And I get that, but I also think about the many instances in life when joy is intermingled with great difficulty, suffering or sadness.  Take for instance the loss of a loved one.  There is much sadness at this time, but often there is also joy and laughter as family members gather, share memories and reconnect.  I recently read an interesting article on Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome in which the author proposed that one of its causes was the loss of the camaraderie a soldier experiences in the midst of his or her military service.  In the midst of very difficult circumstances deep bonds are often formed between soldiers and this article proposed that the isolation and loss of that after service contributes to the syndrome.  This is another example of goodness amidst difficult circumstances.  So I think in one sense we can see our liturgical life simply reflecting the reality of the rest of life, that rejoicing in the midst of this serious, grave, and solemn season isn’t unique to Laetare Sunday. 

Perhaps too, the Church desires to remind us of the reason for our Lenten practices, namely that all we are doing and experiencing during Lent are ordered toward Easter.  Our fasting, almsgiving and prayer should be helping to free us from the bonds of sin that hold us, to empty us of those things in our lives which prevent us from fully experiencing God’s love and mercy, refocusing our minds and hearts on those things that are most important and expanding our hearts to more fully give and receive love.  All of these things bring us joy and are cause for rejoicing.  Mother Church, in her wisdom, gives us this Sunday both as an acknowledgment that we can already begin to feel the good fruits of our hard work and also an encouragement to keep going — to persevere.  All the hard work of Lent is worth it!  The joy of the resurrection is coming!  Let’s prepare well so that we can truly experience the grace and love poured out to us at Easter.   


The use of rose vestments on Laetere Sunday probably stems from an ancient papal tradition of blessing golden roses which would be sent to Catholic heads of state in Europe on the Fourth Sunday of Lent.
Photo by Providence Doucet on Unsplash

We’re here to help

Call us at (605) 716-5214 or fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch soon.

 

8 + 3 =

CHANCERY OFFICE

606 Cathedral Drive
Rapid City, SD 57701
(605) 343-3541

CHANCERY ANNEX AT TERRA SANCTA

2101 City Springs Rd Ste 200
Rapid City, SD 57702
(605) 716-5214

TERRA SANCTA RETREAT CENTER

2101 City Springs Rd, Ste 300
Rapid City , SD 57702
(605) 716-0925
stay@terrasancta.org

SAFE ENVIRONMENT

Click here to learn more

VICTIM ASSISTANCE COORDINATOR

Barbara Scherr (605) 209-3418
True Fellowship: Generous and Sacrificial

True Fellowship: Generous and Sacrificial

True Fellowship: Generous and Sacrificial

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Luke 6:38

This is the end of this Sunday’s Gospel and whenever I hear it, it always touches a deep place in my heart.  There was a time in my life where this reading would call forth a much different image than it does today. 

Once, I believe I would imagine a little finger shaking along with this statement, kind of like, “Watch out! What you dish out will be dished back to you.”  It was an admonition, a warning.  Received in the negative sense.

Today, though, I have a completely different reaction.  Rather than seeing it in the negative, I see it as an affirmation of generosity, a beautiful image of how we have the choice to enlarge our capacity to receive goodness from God and from others. 

The literal image that comes to my mind when I hear this gospel will probably make you smile:  it is paper products.  A room full of paper towels, toilet paper, paper plates, cups and napkins.  I have that image because of the great blessing of good friends who are generous and kind and who have sacrificed time and shared themselves with us over the course of twenty-five years.  This friendship is true fellowship.  And it is the kind of fellowship which our Stewardship Initiative encourages under the pillar of Generous Hospitality. 

Our friendship was forged when we both decided to help with a church ministry which serves engaged couples.  It was strengthened when we made time over the years for campouts, meetings, dinners, picnics and parties with all those who helped in the ministry.  And the fruits it bore over the years came home to me two summers ago. 

My friends were in the midst of great suffering.  Their young adult son was dying of liver cancer.  He had come home to be cared for by his family.  They welcomed us into this difficult time just as generously as they had welcomed us to all the joyous occasions of their family life.  So we were present to watch the many, many people who came by to support them, to visit with them, to drop off food and to drop off paper products.  I was overwhelmed at how many people came and brought something. 

And what came to my heart so clearly standing among so much abundance was, “the measure with which you measure will be measured to you.”  This family’s generosity and kindness poured out to so many over many years was now being measured back to them.  In both the giving and the receiving, their capacity to receive was made larger. 

This is the beauty in living a Catholic Way of Life.  The good measure is pressed down, shaken together and running over.  And sometimes it comes to us in very concrete ways, like a year’s supply of paper towels. Sometimes the fruits are less tangible but no less real, like the confirmation and deepening of my knowledge of the truth that no matter how difficult or sad a situation is, God is ALWAYS good and His mercy and his love is always present, and being poured into laps ready to receive.  A commitment to fostering genuine fellowship helps us enter that stream.  

We’re here to help

Call us at (605) 716-5214 or fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch soon.

 

13 + 13 =

CHANCERY OFFICE

606 Cathedral Drive
Rapid City, SD 57701
(605) 343-3541

CHANCERY ANNEX AT TERRA SANCTA

2101 City Springs Rd Ste 200
Rapid City, SD 57702
(605) 716-5214

TERRA SANCTA RETREAT CENTER

2101 City Springs Rd, Ste 300
Rapid City , SD 57702
(605) 716-0925
stay@terrasancta.org

SAFE ENVIRONMENT

Click here to learn more

VICTIM ASSISTANCE COORDINATOR

Barbara Scherr (605) 209-3418

Bartimaeus the Steward

Bartimaeus the Steward

In response to my email of October 11th, I heard back from several of you who shared with me some of the ways your parish is paying attention to the small details in order to be more hospitable.  Thank you! 

Here are a couple:

  • Last year we did a hoe down chili cook-off in January. It was nice to have a bit of fun in January, seems like a blank space in the calendar. 
  • The biggest impact OLBH has had on welcoming families has been to stock the nursery with various sizes of diapers and wipes and pull ups for the times you forget or run out of something while here. It is very inexpensive – we bought four small diaper packages a year ago and are just now running out – but it makes parents feel welcome.
I am sure there are many ways parishioners around the Diocese are finding simple but meaningful ways to extend hospitality.  It is a joy to hear of some of them.

This past Friday I returned from a 12-day pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  The whole trip was filled with grace and blessings and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to go.  The pilgrimage was led by Fr. Jacques Phillippe and Sr. Magdalit Bolduc from the Community of the Beatitudes.  This morning I was thinking about something Fr. Phillippe said to us on the evening of our arrival.  He said that often times we believe that we really cannot change or be changed. “That is just the way I am”, we say to ourselves.  Fr. Phillippe said that attitude, although quite common among Christians, speaks of a lack of Christian hope.  We lack the virtue of hope in the power and work of God’s grace in our lives if we believe that we cannot change.

Both unconsciously and consciously I think we often live and act out of this belief, both in how we think about ourselves personally, but also about how we think about the institutions we are a part of, whether it be the workplace, school, or church.  We are dissatisfied and unhappy about the status quo, but feel a sense of hopelessness about it ever changing.  On the other hand, we also experience as Americans this almost blind belief that if something is new it must also be good and we relentlessly pursue the next best thing; in technology, in diets, in entertainment; in educational and parenting practices, in church programs. Interesting how we hold these seemingly contradictory extremes simultaneously in our daily lives; on the one hand thinking things will never change while at the same time, relentlessly searching for and trying new things, throwing out the old and moving from one new novelty to the next.  All the while remaining restless.

It is only in actively seeking Christian maturity and Christian hope that we can navigate between the tendency to move back and forth from these two extremes.  The mature disciple, like Mary, is open and docile to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and therefore, not rigid; but open to change.  At the same time, the mature disciple is rooted firmly in the stable rock of Faith; is growing in prudence and right judgment and so is not easily blown one direction and then another by quickly changing fads.

Both as individuals and as church communities, it is important to be watchful and attentive to staying within this balance.  On the one hand, we must hold firmly to the belief expressed in the Book of Revelation, “See I make all things new” (21:5), firmly rooting ourselves in Hope which frees us to be open to the promptings and guidance of the Holy Spirit.  At the same time, the heritage of the Church carries with it the wisdom of the ages and we must guard against absorbing a cultural disdain for anything “old” and a presumption that we are wiser than those who have gone before us.  As we talk about and discern how to move from “maintenance” to “mission” (p. i, Through Him, With Him and In Him), as we argue with one another about whether or not the church is changing too much or not enough, as we debate about this new program or that or about whether to abandon “programs” all together,  let us continue to encourage one another to do so always with fervent prayer and commitment to growth in virtue.

In this Sunday’s Gospel, Bartimaeus provides us with just such encouragement.  He cries out to the Lord with great faith and with great persistence – a model for prayer.  In a gesture of great detachment, he throws his cloak (his only security in his current state of life) to come to the Lord.  Honestly sharing his desire with the Lord, he is healed and “followed him on the way” – literally, “followed in His footsteps”.  Bartimaeus is a steward and a disciple, a man of fervent, persistent, and honest prayer who trusts completely in the Lord and follows in His footsteps.  Let us all strive to do likewise.

 

We’re here to help

Call us at (605) 716-5214 or fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch soon.

 

5 + 12 =

CHANCERY OFFICE

606 Cathedral Drive
Rapid City, SD 57701
(605) 343-3541

CHANCERY ANNEX AT TERRA SANCTA

2101 City Springs Rd Ste 200
Rapid City, SD 57702
(605) 716-5214

TERRA SANCTA RETREAT CENTER

2101 City Springs Rd, Ste 300
Rapid City , SD 57702
(605) 716-0925
stay@terrasancta.org

SAFE ENVIRONMENT

Click here to learn more

VICTIM ASSISTANCE COORDINATOR

Barbara Scherr (605) 209-3418