We recognize the Pillars of Parish Stewardship as Hospitality, Prayer, Formation, and Service. At St. Anthony of Padua, the hospitality ministry members work to lovingly fulfill that first pillar of Hospitality. After all, when we are visitors at a parish or have had a hectic morning getting everyone in the car, what could be better than a smiling face and someone welcoming us to church?
Michele and Leslie Hondo have faithfully done this ministry for about 20 years. It all started when a hospitality minister asked Michele to get involved. She prayed about it and thought, “why not?”
“At the time, I didn’t see it as a calling — I was more just doing it to help the parish,” says Michele. “They needed help, so I wanted to help.”
After all these years of serving and taking over as coordinator, Michele has realized it has become much more than just helping the parish.
“This has become a part of our lives,” says Michele. “We have become closer to God and our church community. We really enjoy doing what we do.”
There are about 25 hospitality ministers who each cover one of our four masses. Ministers are there each week to fulfill the tasks of greeting, taking the collection, dismissing people for Communion, showing the Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion where to go to help people with disabilities, and finding someone to bring up the gifts. While each of these tasks are essential, Michele believes the most important is ensuring visitors and parishioners feel welcome.
“We are the face of the church as soon as people arrive,” says Michele.
Michele recognizes that the pandemic affected whether some people have returned to in-person Mass. As people do return, it’s especially important that they feel welcome.
“We want to make them want to come back, and we want them to feel like returning because of how they were treated,” says Michele.
This ministry would be great for people with children. What better way to get children involved than to have them welcome people to Mass? There are a few younger people who have been helping occasionally. Michele got them nametags, so they are like the other ministers. They were so excited.
“This is such a good way to encourage them to serve,” says Michele.
Michele and Leslie also help with the Cleaning Ministry. They don’t look at either of these ministries as work. To them, it’s a blessing to be involved.
“I’ll admit this is a commitment — there will be times when you won’t feel like doing this,” she says. “But you get an amazing feeling from being involved. It’s so rewarding, and it’s a blessing.”
To all the current hospitality ministers, Michele sends a big thanks for their time and commitment to this ministry.
To get involved in the Hospitality Ministry, contact Michele Hondo at email@example.com or 808-205-2034.