What is Radical Hospitality?
When was the last time that you felt completely welcomed, appreciated, catered to? When your hosts made you feel like they were genuinely happy you came to visit? When every last detail was attended to, and maybe you were surprised that someone put so much thought into planning for your comfort?
Have you felt that way at a church service or event? Have you felt that way here at St. Josaphat? If not yet, we hope you will be! In fact, we want you to help create the culture of Radical Hospitality that we are cultivating here. We have always considered ourselves to be a welcoming place; after all, our tagline is “A church to come home to.” In our 2007 parishwide survey with 471 parishioner respondents, 48% described us as “welcoming,” 42% as “community,” and 40% as “friendly.” So we’re starting from a good baseline, we just need to turn it up a notch.
When we practice Radical Hospitality, we model Jesus. There is a strong basis in both the Old and New Testaments for offering hospitality to others. We know that Jesus lived with compassion for everyone, from the most despised in society like tax collectors, to the downtrodden, like the woman at the well. We also know that he had good friends like Mary, Martha and Lazarus, and trusted companions in the apostles. Jesus accepted their hospitality while offering his own. We are also told, “Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels.” (Hebrews 13:2) In other words, Christian hospitality lets us see Jesus in the people God brings us in contact with. They are worthy of our focus and time.
Radical Hospitality is a key component of moving our parish from maintenance (attending Mass on Sundays) to mission (actively living out our faith and sharing the Good News with others, i.e. evangelizing.) According to Bishop Robert Schnase, “Vibrant, fruitful, growing parishes practice Radical Hospitality. Out of genuine love for Christ and for others, they take the initiative to invite, welcome, and include newcomers and help them grow in faith as they become part of the body of Christ. They focus on those beyond their congregation with as much passion as they attend to the nurture and growth of those who already feel connected, and they apply their utmost creativity, energy, and effectiveness to the task, exceeding all expectations.”
Our May Leadership Summit featured Jane Angha from Ministry Blueprints sharing about Radical Hospitality. Check out the Zoom here. It should start with Fr. Francis’s opening prayer. If for some reason it doesn’t, skip to the 20 minute mark (feel free to fast forward through the time we are in breakouts).
As a result of the discussion in the breakout sessions of the Summit, we have created a Radical Hospitality Team, and invite you to join.
We invite everyone to practice Radical Hospitality at Mass. Search out people you don’t recognize and smile or wave to them. If you see someone without a Gather book, ask if you can bring them one. If there seems to be some confusion about the communion line, feel free to whisper to someone how it works. Congratulate a new parent or acknowledge a family who has “active” toddlers. (We parents with older kids have been there.) Motion to the Eucharistic Minister to bring communion to someone who can’t leave their seat.
We want to make St. Josaphat an inviting place where everyone feels welcome and sees our parish as their support system. We want to help people to deepen their faith and develop their relationship with Jesus, and want them to feel comfortable talking with others about it. Modeling Jesus with a practice of Radical Hospitality is an important part of achieving this vision.