A regular Pray Tell reader writes:
Our pastoral leadership team has been reflecting on ways in which our parish church could become radical and magnanimous in our exercise of hospitality. We recently became aware of an elderly couple who know longer come to Mass at our church because they have difficulty opening the massive oak doors at the entrance of church (built about six years ago). We are fully ADA compliant, but while those with mobility challenges are accustomed to finding the automated door opening control, ordinary parishioners who are simply too weak to open the doors easily my rightly be deterred.
As an experiment, I recently began standing out on the portico before Mass, opening the front door for each approaching worshippers. Without exception, this simple gesture has elicited warm greetings to me by those entering the church. Hospitality became a two-way exchange, markedly different in quality from efforts to make I contact with a verbal greeting in the narthex.
I would love it of our usual Ministers of Hospitality (families who serve as greeters and a well-ensconced crew of well-dressed male ushers) would take this on as part of our regular practice, but concerns have already been raised about well-groom ushers standing outside in the summer heat. I can understand that concern, because I would certainly need a shower before coming inside for Mass! I’m not sure what the alternative would be…youth in shorts and tank tops?
What do your Ministers of Hospitality do to welcome church members and guests? Has your parish discovered the opportunities of human encounter during the act of opening a door?