With Hospitality, the Small Details Matter

Bishop Gruss has often observed that as we strive to live lives of Generous Hospitality, the details matter.  Attentiveness to small details is an important aspect of hospitality.

In August, my daughter and daughter-in-law attended a day and a half retreat hosted by the organization Blessed Is She. One of the things they shared with me was that those organizing the event had partnered with a company that sells beauty products and the company had put together baskets for each bathroom containing small bottles of their lotion, soap and perfume.  In addition, they added breath mints, Tylenol and Tums, purse-sized packages of Kleenex, feminine products, diapers and wipes.

My girls were impressed by this extra touch of hospitality.  The expensive lotion and other items conveyed, in a practical and concrete way, the organizers desire to pamper their guests.  The diapers and wipes were a special welcome to the many nursing mothers who had infants with them for the event.

Perhaps it isn’t always practical to have such a basket in our parish bathrooms, but it does cause me to wonder:  have we taken a look at our bathrooms and other small, easily ignored spaces in our parishes?  Do they welcome our parishioners?  Is there something extra we can do to make those spaces welcoming?

Thinking about these welcome baskets also encouraged me to think about how family-friendly our churches are.  Is it easy to bring infants to church and take care of them there? Intentionally making our churches welcoming to small children, infants and those that care for them is a practical way to live out our pro-life commitment and is a great thing to think about during the month of October when we celebrate Respect Life Sunday.

Sometimes small things make a big impression.  For instance, I have been very impressed by the umbrellas I have seen at several of our parishes. Although we don’t get tremendous amounts of rain here, what a beautiful act of hospitality it is to have someone walk a guest to their car with an umbrella during a rainstorm.  I am sure
there are many other small ways we can practice hospitality.  What ideas do you have or have you implemented in your parish?

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