Later this year, St. Monica is teaming up with the Archdiocese with a number of endeavors. Some involve our youth (Steubenville Conference). Some events involve discipleship and spiritual training (Called and Gifted “Spiritual Gifts Inventory” and “Moving the Parish From Maintenance to Mission”). These are high-quality programs that feed people’s spiritual lives. With that quality also goes corresponding costs. I am reaching out to see if a parishioner has any grant writing experience and would be willing to assist us in obtaining financial assistance for these events.
“St. Monica is not a parish with a mission. Jesus Christ is the mission who happens to have a parish.” Anyone who has heard me preach over the past year has heard my emphasis on fulfilling the “mission.” Since St. Monica is HIS parish, what did Jesus Christ want the parish of St. Monica to look like in five years? If St. Monica closed tomorrow – besides parishioners – who would miss us? I talked about that last year during Pentecost Sunday weekend. I said that St. Monica needs to look at the parish within the context of Jesus’ “Great Commissioning:” All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:18-20). This is the MISSION of the parish.
About a week later, I added specifics and laid out what this would look like. After almost 16 months of prayer, discussion and discernment when we heard Christ saying, “I want to encounter you – in Service to Others, in My Word, and in the Sacred Liturgy.” This is the VISION of St. Monica. The Vision is how the Mission gets specifically implemented in the geographic area known as The Parish of St. Monica.
In the December 23rd bulletin, I described how some people of St. Monica heard – and responded – to that call. Two “disciples,” Bridget Cowell and Michelle Manning, stepped forward to address that third pillar of the Vision. They put together a ministry of “Reaching Out, Serving and Helping Others.” Soon after this, another group of parishioners stepped forward as well. They expressed the desire to address the “Encounter of Christ through Liturgy.” Martha McGurk had heard me say that good liturgy has three components: Hospitality, Hymnody, and Homily. Early last year, she brought together a group of people with the desire to specifically address the Hospitality component.
Their accomplishments over the past year are noteworthy. In January/February they set up a “Hospitality Advisory Team.” They held their 1st meeting. They set goals for the Ministry and developed their own “Mission Statement:” Encountering Christ by promoting fellowship through acts of kindness in a welcoming, judgement-free environment. In March/April they revised the greeter guidelines and met with greeters to discuss new guidelines and duties. It was interesting to note that the number of parishioners interested to help as ushers and greeters began to increase at this time. The team also established a new “Parishioner Welcome group.” This consists of three volunteers who contact each new parishioner and welcomes them via telephone. In May the team revised usher guidelines and began to resolve a number of scheduling issues that had arisen. They formatted a new volunteer/interest form and advertised for new greeters/ushers via announcements and the Parish Bulletin.
Their endeavors did not slow down during the lazy days of summer. In June/July they reviewed and revised the list of current ministries at St. Monica. They rewrote the volunteer/interest form. They also began a discussion to create, and roll out, a new “Hospitality/Information Desk.” They also sent thank you notes to all greeters and ushers via email for their dedication and assistance.
In August/September, the “Hospitality/Information Desk” debuted. A tablecloth and runner for the Hospitality Desk was purchased. Signage pointing to the availability of the Hospitality Desk was placed at all entrances. The desk is intended to be shared by all ministries while giving parishioners a place to get more detailed parish information in a welcoming and friendly manner. Finally, the new “Volunteer/Interest Forms” were introduced with announcements in Bulletin.
In the October/November timeframe, the “volunteer forms” were made available on the Website. Paper forms were placed on the Hospitality/Information Desk. The Ushers met and discussed how the entire ministry was doing. Based on their input, guidelines were updated. In December, the Team signed-up Christmas volunteers. This is a huge challenge each year as many dedicated and active parishioners are away at this time. Nevertheless, the team was able to cover all of the Masses with friendly greeters and ushers for the 6 Christmas Masses. The Team also distributed Hospitality survey results from the new Kiosk and placed the results on the website and in the bulletin as well. They sent out a Christmas Letter and a Hospitality update to all greeters and ushers.
Information of Progress “by the numbers:”
- Greeters increased in count from 32 to 56 (75% increase)
- Ushers remain at a count of 15-20 (No change)
- Contacted and welcomed 47 new parishioners to St. Monica
- Fifteen parishioners expressed an interest in volunteering via paper/online Volunteer Form