Hospitality is one of the Four Pillars of Parish Stewardship. As such, we wish to encourage a welcoming and warm environment for all who come into our parish community. The New Member Welcome Ministry seeks to do exactly that.
The ministry consists of a group of parishioners who meet monthly to plan various events throughout the year to welcome new members.
“We are a warm and welcome face to those who are new members to familiarize, welcome, and assist with any needs or questions they may have,” says Julie Erwin.
The idea is to help new parishioners feel comfortable and welcome as they transition into a new parish community.
“We introduce them to our ministry opportunities and encourage them to become involved and active,” Julie says. “Our hope is to acquaint them with other parishioners and enhance their spiritual growth.”
Fr. Arisman was introducing new members during Mass one Sunday, and Julie realized she couldn’t put a name with a face. She didn’t know how to welcome them into the parish and spoke to Fr. Arisman about it. He asked if she would consider finding a better way to welcome new parishioners, and she agreed. Julie has now been involved for approximately two years.
“Our goal is to enhance their experience in our parish community by demonstrating hospitality and by warmly greeting our new members,” she says. “We should be as hospitable within our parish as we are in our own homes. Our guiding principle is, ‘When I was a stranger, you welcomed me’ (Matthew 25:35).”
An initial call is made to new families to welcome them and ask if they have any questions. They are then invited to an upcoming welcome luncheon. There are two luncheons per year and a Mass preceding the meal.
“Our luncheons consist of a meal, introductions to Church ministries, our priests and deacons and their spouses, children’s games, and an opportunity to meet new and old parishioners,” Julie says. “We inform them of upcoming events and provide them with a welcome bag. They are also welcomed in our parish bulletin and on Facebook if they choose.”
The ministry also has members of the committee attend the monthly coffee and donuts to meet and greet members of the parish, whether they are new or existing members.
“It is a wonderful way to meet those who we see in Mass weekly, but may not get a chance to know personally,” Julie says.
In addition, lectors welcome visitors at the beginning of Mass. New parishioners are encouraged to fill out a card indicating their interests and needs in our parish. These cards are located at each entrance and can be turned into the collection basket or office.
“We also encourage everyone to engage and mingle with others after Mass, whether they are established, new, or visiting,” Julie says. “We tend to think of hospitality as our way of blessing others, but in hospitality the stranger also blesses us. Since I said ‘yes’ to Father, I have been abundantly blessed by this ministry. Every person we meet brings his/her gifts, talents, knowledge, and experience with them. We have no idea how much the next visitors can enrich our lives and the parish life.”
Julie came to St. Francis around 15 years ago as a single person.
“Regrettably, I didn’t participate outside of attending Mass regularly,” she says. “Five years later, I met my future husband and we made a stewardship pledge to become more involved in the parish. Ten years later, we are involved in numerous ministries. I find I am more fulfilled in my spiritual life than I’ve ever been. Becoming involved in parish life as a new parishioner will enrich your life more than you can imagine.”
Anyone interested in this ministry — including new members — is more than welcome to join. For more information, contact Julie Erwin at Julie.email@example.com.