5 Ways to an Intentional Advent

Posted on December 5, 2017 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

intentional advent

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…)

Vibrant Witness: Living the Gift of Hospitality

Posted on November 11, 2017 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

gift of hospitality

 

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)

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Hospitality is Communications at Your Catholic Church

Posted on October 28, 2017 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

welcoming

 

My wife and I have an area of the church where we like to sit with the boys. It is close to the choir we have a beautiful choir and it’s near our entrance. We are not the people who have our “pew,” but we do have our section. Sound familiar?

My pastor’s homilies for the past few months have been on the theme of welcoming. The one homily that really stuck with me related to what he called “pew hospitality.” He said to move into the middle of the pew when you get to church. When others arrived at Mass, they don’t need to ask you to move over or climb over other people. He made me feel bad since I was the one at the end of the pew! I leaned over to the woman next to me and told her that. Since that Sunday, I have always moved the middle of the pew.

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What a Pumpkin Patch Teaches Us About Parish Hospitality

Posted on October 14, 2017 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

fall hospitality

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?

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Five Ways to Pray the Rosary Better

Posted on October 7, 2017 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

rosary

 

Did you know October is the month of the rosary? Whether you grew up praying a family rosary every night or still struggle to remember the words to the Apostles Creed, there are always ways to grow. Here are a few practical ways for you and your parish to make the most of this powerful prayer.

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Why Charism Awareness Matters

Posted on September 16, 2017 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

charism

In our parish communities, we ask people to give of themselves more and more. We use St. Paul’s image of the Body of Christ to illustrate how we all play a part in God’s Kingdom, each with a unique charim. We express that the need is great and that the only way for us to succeed is to pull together. Then, we express our frustrations behind the scenes because most people still don’t step forward. One reason why is that many seated in our pews do not have an answer to the question, “What do I have to give?”

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Growing in Generous Hospitality

Posted on September 9, 2017 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

generousThis 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.

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Stewardship & Faith Testimonies

Posted on September 2, 2017 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

testimoniesEverybody loves a good story. Stories of faith engage listeners differently than a list of facts or good ideas. When people share their faith journey with others, it offers powerful encouragement to both the storyteller and the recipient. I’ve been there too. We’re in this together. Parishes that limit their stewardship discussions to theological discussion and ignore the personal connection will have a difficult time fully engaging everyone. Finding and telling the right story is possible for every parish.

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Sustaining Generosity

Posted on August 24, 2017 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

increased offertoryWe all feel the pinch, don’t we? The relation of income to outflow is a tense conversation in many parishes. It feels like churches cost more than they used to, with aging facilities, competitive salaries for necessary lay ministers, and new programs to enliven faith amid a world where many find it easier to have none. Where does that leave the average Catholic parish? For many parishes, running an increased offertory program is the best solution to relieve the tension. Even so, a new name and new mailings isn’t quite enough.

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