“Welcome: to meet and speak to someone in a friendly way when they arrive; to show someone that you are pleased they are with you.”
We do this naturally in all our churches, but last week Fr John called a meeting to find ways we can do this even better. Conscious that new housing developments are springing up, and that a local church has closed, we are already seeing, and will continue to see, many new faces entering our churches, and they are bringing their children to us for baptism and the sacraments. We need to make everyone who comes feel so welcome they will want to come regularly and feel at home with a real sense of belonging.
But how? The group discussed many ideas and suggestions, and at the end of this first meeting resolved that:
- Some willing parishioners will wear a badge that will make them easily approachable, just saying “Welcome to the Parish of Our Lady of the Valley (followed by a space to write the wearers Christian name). Some of these people will already be Welcomers but we hope that more will volunteer. We shall need a possible 4 in the general area of SMSJ’s church entrance before Saturday evening and Sunday masses, fewer in Dunsop and Sabden. We will keep you informed when the badges have been made.
- All parishioners should be on the look-out for people they haven’t seen before and be prepared to initiate conversation with them. We should invite people to join us for coffee after Mass, preferably accompanying them to the hall and introducing them to others. If they can’t stay for coffee, they will at least know that they are invited and welcome.
- When a family brings a child for baptism and is introduced to the congregation, we should do more than just clap that welcome, but be ready to congratulate the family at the end of Mass and show a genuine interest in them.
These are simple, first steps that each of us should endeavour to adopt. There will be a second meeting of the Welcoming Group on Tuesday 19th June at 7.30pm in the Presbytery, and Fr John very much hopes that more of you will come along. After all, if we love our parish we have an interest in securing its future, it’s part of our calling to bring people to Christ.
Stay with us, Lord, on our journey, and help us to extend Your welcome to all.