The slumbering church is awakening. We are realizing that our pews are empty, our familiar way of doing things isn’t working, and we are facing an unexpected future. We are asking how we will be viable in the years to come. How will we bring back our young people, our Gen -Xers and a growing number of mature women who are finding the need for organized religion a thing of the past? The studies are telling and we aren’t sure what to do.
On a recent trip to Maui to visit family, I learned a word and fell in love with it! The word is ohana. According to the Urban Dictionary, “Ohana means nobody gets left behind. It can also refer to a close group of friends or class that resemble a family.” I was so happy to add this word to my vocabulary. As a parent of children who live far from home, this word gave me hope that they would find community no matter what.
Many of us have friends, colleagues or neighbors that are ohana to us. We just don’t have a word for them. They are people we call to share good news or invite for an impromptu dinner. They are the kind of people who don’t care if your house is messy, that you might have a horrible cold. They are the ones who comfort you after a loss or are included in celebrations and accomplishments. Beautiful, right?
This got me thinking about everyday hospitality and community and ways we can include, invite, and welcome in our parishes. (more…)
I am so happy for 2018. I love fresh starts! My calendar is new — no crossed-out appointments, no rescheduled meetings — just fresh new days and empty pages ready to be filled. I spent an afternoon getting my new planner all set for the year, adding meetings and things I knew were coming up. It’s now waiting for everything that comes my way. Hopefully, the calendar will tell a story in December of how I spent my time, energy, gifts, and strengths. I have a goal for a messy, full calendar with notes and pictures, scribbles, and ideas.
I have a presentation in my calendar for later this month, and it has me thinking about goal setting, which is a very January thing to do. I will be talking with ministry leaders about professionalism. I am looking forward to the day and thought I would share some of the message with you. First, a concept I need to break open: personal hospitality. (more…)
A friend of mine who happens to be a Director of Religious Education at a parish in Northern Wisconsin held an Advent family night this past week. It was the first ever at the parish and was a big hit. I got to see what was happening all night long because of a fantastic teen reporter who covered the event. The video was wobbly, spontaneous, and fun, but it cut off most of the adults from the neck up, so I suspect the reporter was not very tall, but very articulate. His commentary was delightful. He talked about each activity and how it related to Advent and would ad-lib with his own comments about how great things looked or how busy the hallways were or how much fun people were having.
This parish is in one of the poorest counties in Wisconsin. (more…)
It’s early morning and I am sitting by my mom’s bedside. My sister is dozing in a chair and my youngest daughter checking her phone, messaging friends and watching videos. My mom is on her last days. Alzheimer’s claimed her long ago, but still, she is my mom. She was – is – an amazing woman. She taught me about welcome, hospitality and graciousness.
Bishop Caggiano from Bridgeport Connecticut says that if we want company in church we should do what his Italian mom says: “ Clean the house, make some food and when people come, treat them like family.” ( Convocation of Catholic Leaders , The Joy of the Gospel in America, July 2017)
The community I live in is a vacation destination. Today there are coach busses traveling up the highway filled with tourists looking at the fall colors, taking part in pumpkin festivals, and who knows what other fun! Every store, restaurant, winery, and farm stand is decked out with pumpkins, cornstalks, hay bales, and scarecrows. The fun and excitement is contagious. I feel like I need a caramel apple and some of those funky ghost pumpkins and lumpy gourds! Later.
People are coming for an experience. My town and all the others around are making sure people will leave with lovely memories. They are setting the stage for friends and families to have an unforgettable fall day with one another. It is important to set the stage for an experience or adventure of any kind, because those who participate will be touched, moved, and transformed. It takes us beyond the ordinary and into the extraordinary! Just why do we love fall rituals so much?
This time of the year the words “generous, extravagant, and abundant and beautiful” seem to be floating in the air. The farmer’s market this past weekend reminded me of that, with so many tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini and green beans. The riot of colors and the anticipation of that ripe tomato sliced with a bit of salt was mouth-watering! Then the flowers! Dahlias, mums, purple status, cone flowers, zinnias, all tucked into big bunches waiting for a home to adorn. It made me happy to just walk amid the booths and seeing people choosing and chatting and taking time to pick just the right things.
I am drawn to school supplies – I can’t help it. I love the little areas set aside at the local stores for parents and their progeny to sift through, mark off lists and look for just the right folders and notebooks.
I have no reason to be there, but I find myself looking at Sharpies and Mr. Sketch markers with excitement and locker decorations with nostalgia. While I peruse the aisles, I often notice my fellow shoppers and they are not shopping leisurely like me. They are harried, stressed, rushed and a little annoyed at those lists that get longer every year. I overheard one woman say, “ Seriously, three boxes of tissues? Who are these kids and why do they blow their noses so much? And a protractor…do these wear out or something? Why a new one? How new and improved could they be?” I am sure there is a really good reason those are on the lists, but in the midst of all the getting ready for the new school year the list is one more stressful thing.
An antidote to the rush and crush for families? A parish community that understands, supports, and knows just how to remedy the craziness of their families at this time of year. So I give you five ways to reach out to your families this fall to welcome and lead them gently and compassionately to Jesus who desires to be at the heart of every person and every family.
I really love hospitality and try never to take it for granted. When someone takes time to create a beautiful environment or greets me with a warm welcome and a smile, I am hooked. My name is Jane Angha, Director of Ministry Blueprints, a little company all about radical hospitality and welcoming in faith communities.
Leading with Beauty
People often think hospitality is a luxury or an option if you have time, money, and volunteers. Others think it is a waste of resources to fuss with hospitality and things such as décor, environment, food, and how the room looks for an event or gathering. They swear it doesn’t matter to most people and that no one will even notice. I beg to differ. Hospitality is an integral part of setting the stage for an encounter with Christ. Leading with beauty touches our hearts, minds, and souls.