Our vibrant parish programme (Vision 2020) is about half way through its planned mission. The essence of the programme is to have a pastoral plan, build community, build up the Kingdom of God, and to prepare the faithful for our ultimate destiny in life.
On a purely practical level, becoming a parish or a community is one which is the key to the success of our plans.
The church is a family, God is a relationship, and the parish is the heart and soul of God’s plan for us.
Yes, the parish is God’s will for his church. The first apostles and disciples travelled around the known world, preaching the Gospel, and building communities whose jobs it was to keep and nurture the faith. Parishes are as old as the church itself.
Hospitality and service is the main feature of any Christian community. Hospitality by it definition means being welcoming and friendly to guests, travellers, and foreigners. Our ability to be hospitable is a sign of our Christion maturity. It’s almost as if the honour of the entire community is at stake. Yes, it’s that important and that necessary. Our ability to be hospitable is really our way of life, not a job or task we should perform.
As important as this is, it is also a very simple thing to do. Being welcoming is part of our human nature. But unfortunately you can find so many parishes which are not hospitable but on the contrary very self-centred.
We need a plan. We need to follow it. Each parish council should start by having an effective hospitality committee. People need to plan their work and really should be trained for it. Every parishioner should take on the role of being a host, not just a guest at the church. We must greet every stranger we see. We must make them feel at home amongst us and we must ask them to stay and to come again.
Inviting people to prayer and service is also an important aspect of parish community life.
Coffee and meals after the Divine Liturgy is already a way of life in some parishes but this should be done in all our parishes each Sunday. Our family must be encouraged to meet and talk to each other.
You can never stress enough the need to personally interact with guests. The priest can and should be welcoming from the altar but, in a parish, every member of the parish has an obligation to be welcoming.
We all have different gifts from God. God needs each of us to use them to build up His Kingdom.