Blogger Jerry Galipeau has been a man without a parish for some months. Two weeks ago, he wrote about his experience worshiping at different parishes in the Chicago area. And not being welcomed anywhere.
Last week he wrote a bit more about it. This bit intrigued me:
One person has suggested that hospitality and welcome needs to be a kind of two-way street in Catholic parishes. He likened the experience to someone who goes shopping for a particular computer in an electronics store. If not waited on by a salesperson, the shopper needs to reach out, find a salesperson, and begin to seek help to find the particular computer. This got me thinking. Perhaps when I arrive at a parish, I should go to any person and simply say, “Hello, I am visiting here, can you tell me about your parish?” I think I will try it over the next few months and see what happens.
I don’t think this lets anybody inside the church doors off the hook. But it does shine a little illumination on the importance of a person taking responsibility for engaging a community and making one’s home with them. Even if such a person is an introvert. Usually, that just means energy expended rather than gained.
Maybe our task in the parish isn’t to “service” people by welcoming them. But to create an environment in which they feel/sense/experience welcome on a level appropriate to their personal situation.
I don’t get on the road much. I’m thinking about my four weeks in Omaha this summer, though. I could worship with the community at Creighton. Maybe the first Sunday there I will introduce myself and ask someone to tell me about the community.
It would be fascinating to go to some of the parishes around Omaha and do the same. On the other hand, I already get two, sometimes three Masses on a weekend as it is. I’m supposed to be away to study. Not to perform liturgy experiments.
Anybody have any experiences of visiting a parish, or coming in new to the community, and asking, “Can you tell me about your church?”