The office was a large historic brick building on the south side of Peoria, nearing the downtown area. I remember thinking it was a mansion! Growing up I remember visiting the “mansion” when my mother would be at a Board meeting and I was an important “member” of the office staff. At the age of five, my first experience in “volunteering” was at the Peoria United Way “mansion” and my role included stuffing envelopes, but organizing the suckers and office candy was also a high priority for me. My mother thought it was very important to give back to her community. She brought me along to the United Way, but also to plant the initial flower beds at the Heartland Clinic in Peoria, which she was a Board Member of as well. From these experiences to many more over the years, she was example of a Christian servant and steward. I never realized at the time how much she was planting a seed within me. I am sure her demanding job and raising my brother and I kept her quite busy, but I always remember my father and mother giving back to the community in some way.
We all have unique ways in which we are called to serve. Some might find ourselves on Boards, some of us might be helping a neighbor next door, some of us might be serving at Mass. All of these are excellent examples of how to act as a disciple and answer God’s call in your life. We also should acknowledge that we are examples for each other. Just as my mom was providing an example to me, we provide examples to children around us. We also serve as examples to each other. I am sure many of you have volunteered for an event or ministry before, in which you were asked by your friends and family why you participate. Your witness story is important and you should be encouraged to share it!
When we are in service to each other, we are also being hospitable to each other. Hospitality is often understood as the way in which we prepare a meal or event, but it is so much more than that in light of stewardship! Hospitality focuses on Christian kindness. We are looking at how we care about each other, how we share with each other, and how we share a deep sense of belonging to each other. We each play a role in welcoming the stranger and encouraging hospitality.
Think about your favorite restaurant for a moment. Maybe it was fancy, maybe it is a local favorite, but think about that exceptional restaurant. When you think about getting the chance to go there, how does that make you feel? When you arrive, does someone greet you or do they recognize you warmly? Think about the ambiance, the feelings you get when you are seated. How does the ambiance, the smells, or the music make you feel? How about the service at the restaurant? Are the servers attentive, warm, knowledgeable, and engaging with you? Think about the tables that surround you, how are those individuals feeling? Are those people at the tables around you also sharing in the positive experience and seemingly enjoying this restaurant?
Now, think about Sunday. How would you feel if I asked all these questions about the Sunday Mass experience to you? How would you answer?
Hospitality through the lens of stewardship begins with Sunday hospitality. We warmly greet each other, we enjoy being present in the Eucharist to each other through a warm smile from one pew to the next, we find the priests and liturgical ministers knowledgeable and engaging, and we find the music or smells spiritually nourishing. When we all participate in the Mass together- friends, family and strangers– we are being radically hospitable. We always have room for improvement, but when we think about hospitality through the lens of stewardship, consider what that looks like—being radically obsessed with invitation and participation.
We are always trying to explore new ideas of stewardship through service and hospitality at Cathedral. While we continue to develop and grow these ministries at Cathedral we hope you will be encouraged and feel welcomed to join us. In the next couple of weeks you will have the opportunity to hear more about stewardship and each of our call to live a stewardship way of life. You will be invited to answer the call and plan with us, as we become Jesus’ hands and feet in the world.
Katie Price is the Coordinator for Discipleship and Stewardship at the Cathedral. She is also working in the Discipleship and Stewardship effort at the Diocese of Springfield. She can be reached at [email protected].