Friday, November 16, 2012

Are You Welcoming?

Over the years, I have attended Masses, weddings, baptisms, first Communions, confirmations, investitures, and funerals at many Catholic churches locally and while traveling for business and pleasure.  One of the common things that I have noticed and have been chagrined over is the fact that other attendees do not seem very welcoming to strangers.
And, then, many in the welcoming line, if there is a welcoming group, do not look at you or say anything to you while they “greet” you because they are engaged in conversations with the others in the welcoming line or other friends of theirs. Why do we fail in this behavior?  We are all going to a celebration of the Mass and the Holy Eucharist.  After I started observing this, I became very aware of my own behavior and found that I was, also, guilty of such behavior.  So, I started to smile and wave at other attendees as I got out of my car and walked into the church and as I left it to my car. I swear that some people mistook my welcoming behavior and thought I was some sort of freak and some women, of all ages, sizes, and marital status, thought I was flirting with them!

Over the years, this lead me to thinking about comments of Catholics who have left the Church for Protestant churches and the popular non-denominational mega-churches.  These wayward Catholics speak about how welcome they feel their and how nice the parishioners in those churches are from their welcoming committees to their new-member committee and the after-service snacks and socialization.  What is wrong with Catholics who constantly bemoan the loss of members and declining conversions and sustainment of converts?

I write this blog now to recommend to you the article in this current issue of the St. Augustine Catholic entitled “How Welcoming Are You” by Lilla Ross.  As the title suggests, she deals with this very topic.  She relates from a book by Richard McCorry entitled Company’s Coming: A Spiritual Process for Creating More Welcoming Parishes. He has traveled all over the country assisting parishes to become more inviting.  In doing so, he relates that his “common experience is feeling invisible.”
I can attest to that very feeling.  It is not unusual for a visitor to attend a Mass and never speak or have eye contact with another attendee.  This is so true.  We can go to a public social or entertainment event and not have such an isolated experience.  But, we Catholics are going to the celebration of the Mass so why don’t we make all other co-attendees feel the friendship and love of Jesus Christ?  The first step is awareness of this situation and the second step is self-examination of our own facial expression and actions. The third step is to make others aware of this situation. The final step is to change our behavior. And that is the point of this blog, the article and the book.

He directs us to the passage from I Peter 4:9: “Be hospitable to one another without complaining.”
Who should do this - everyone.  McCrorry writes that “best welcoming committee is the entire parish.”  You can learn more at
Thanksgiving is upon us as is Advent, Christmas and the new year - what a great time to start!  Please join me!

Let me know what you think.

Let the light of our Lord shine upon you!

REM (Ray Makowski) Co-Founder, Director and Secretary-Treasure

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