In his writing to the Romans, the apostle Paul instructed: “Contribute to the needs of the holy ones, exercise hospitality” (Romans 12:13). And as a stewardship parish, we recognize hospitality as one of the four pillars of stewardship. A key part of hospitality is creating a welcoming atmosphere in the parish. Here at Holy Apostles, we have the Frontline Hospitality Ministry along with the members of our Ushers Ministry, who foster a true spirit of hospitality at Mass.
Art Figeroa leads the Ushers Ministry. One day, nine years ago, he was attending Mass when he saw a notice in the bulletin about the ministry, which sparked an interest in getting involved. Art has since been serving and recently took over leading the ministry.
“When I was a kid, my dad was an usher,” he says. “So I thought it would be kind of cool to do the same thing he did.”
When you walk into the church for Mass, you will be greeted with a warm welcome by a member of either the Frontline Hospitality Ministry or Usher Ministry. The goal is to encourage a welcoming, hospitable environment for any regular parishioners or visitors.
“There’s usually somebody at each entrance,” says Art.
There are approximately 20 ministry members involved in ushering, with typically three serving at each Mass. During busier celebrations such as Christmas or Easter, there are at least four ushers available.
The ushers distribute bulletins for the coming week, help people find and access seats, assist anyone with medical issues or other needs during Mass, and communicate with the Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion in case someone requires Communion to be brought to them.
Art enjoys being involved because it gives him the opportunity to help out his fellow parishioners. He believes helping people feel welcome is a great way to encourage them to come back.
“It’s important because we’re offering assistance,” he says. “Some people just come in and not really talk to anyone — they are not into fellowship, I used to be the same. But slowly this has made me more open. When I’m there and ushering, I’m a whole different person — that part has changed in terms of how I’ve interacted with people.”
Stewardship is a key component of the ministry, as it is with any of the ministries that help bring people together in fellowship and hospitality.
“Anyone in ministry is a steward in the church and an extension of stewardship of God,” Art says. “It’s a chain of people that are here to help — we are another link of the chain. We’re there to make sure everything goes nice and smoothly. You want the experience to be good, to enjoy being in church. We’re there to make sure everybody has what they need.”
Anyone interested in becoming an usher must go through the Safe Environment training and then receive ministry-specific training to learn about how to serve in this capacity.