Parish welcomers are an effective means by which both parishioners and those outside the Church can experience the love of God and the hospitality of the Christian community. Here you will find resources that your parish can use for the ministry of hospitality or welcome.
The Welcome Pack
Welcome packs are an effective way of inviting new parishioners into full participation of parish life. They are an opportunity to inform visitors and newcomers about the life of the parish, its various activities and encourages a sense of belonging and mission. A welcome pack may include the following:
· Magnet with Mass times & contact details
· Parish prayer
· Parish Pastoral Plan (summary if large)
· Registration card
· Parish information booklet
· Parish Priest’s business card
· Put your information into a presentation folder or a gift bag!
This sample welcome pack from St Anthony of Padua Parish, Toongabbie, could be adjusted for your own parish community or ministry group.
Other Welcome Resources
Sample Parish Registration Form This registration form could be made available by parishes at key evangelising moments including parish Masses and Sacramental programs.
Sample Welcoming Letter A personal welcoming letter from the parish priest is a powerful tool of invitation to those new to a parish. Parishes may wish to adapt this letter as needed.
A Welcome Assessment – A checklist for parishes to assess the effectiveness of their welcome initiatives from the Diocese of Cincinnati, USA.
Guidelines for the Ministry of Hospitality – This resource from the Diocese of Metuchen, New Jersey, USA, highlights the role of the welcomer at Mass including preparation, their role before and during Mass, dealing with special circumstances as well as orientation and training.
The Australian Catholic Disability Council is able to assist parishes plan for and make people with a disability welcome and full participants in parish life. These two booklets, produced by the Disability Council, are recommended reading for all parish priests and personnel to help create accessible communities:
Reflection & Response Welcoming Guide
“I Have a Story” Pastoral Guidelines (7 MB document)
Family Prayer Boxes
Outreach initiatives that foster a sense of belonging to a parish family are a vital link in connecting with families. One such initiative is the distribution of Family Prayer Boxes through the parish school or Sacramental programs. Items which may be included are:
A small Bible
An ‘altar cloth’
A battery candle
Parish prayer card
The small storage box is then used as the ‘altar’.
“Roll-A-Grace and Roll-A-Prayer” produced by Liturgy Brisbane, are a fun way of introducing prayer to the family. Family prayer time is an opportunity to recognise our need for God’s grace in our busy lives.
Living as a Catholic Family is a website from Loyola Press with resources to help families grow in faith, including how to incorporate the grace of God in daily living with fun activities and ways to talk to your child about faith.
Parishes can provide opportunities for families to socialise and grow their understanding and experience of community. Some examples of possible events are:
Organising A Parish Family Picnic – Parish family picnics are a wonderful way to strengthen fellowship and community in your parish. These suggestions from the parish of Nicholas of Myra, Penrith, will help parishes plan and run a parish picnic. Extend a personal invitation to new members of the parish, school families, newly baptised and those undetaking the RCIA program and not forgetting those who are single or elderly. This is also an opportune time to ask the youth group to assist in building a sense of belonging to a parish family.
Organising a Family Trivia Night – Trivia nights are a fun way of gathering the members of the parish together. This resource, from Our Lady of the Way, Emu Plains, includes a running sheet, games, questions and answers and is suitable for all ages.