Immaculate Conception Parish is considerable in size and numbers, which often overwhelms the newcomer to this daunting community. As we identify ourselves as brothers and sisters in Christ, we must do as the Scriptures call us to do and warmly invite the "stranger" into our community of faith. For, as Hebrew 13:2 conveys to us, we must, "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unaware." The ways in which the Welcoming Ministry responds to this charge has much to do with hospitality.
Throughout the year, the Welcoming Ministry sends out formal invitations to newly registered parishioners inviting them to attend a Welcoming Gathering at the Parish. The ministry follows up by telephoning each new parishioner to personally welcome them to the parish and once again cordially invite them to the upcoming Welcome Gathering. Those who are reached by telephone and through invitation are always grateful for the warmth and welcome of this extension of hospitality. It helps them to know that they are not just another body in the church, but rather a body of Christ that is joined with others in faith.
The ministry plans and brings to fruition a Welcome Gathering on a given date, following the 10:30 mass. This involves creating a warm ambiance in the St. Anne Room of the Parish Center, and supplying baked goods, coffee, tea, and juices for the actual reception of new parishioners. A table is also set up with items regarding parish information, a welcome pamphlet, and a stewardship booklet including descriptions of the ministries in the parish which invites them to become involved. In addition to the Welcoming Ministry members, Parish Staff members also attend and participate in the Welcoming Gathering that serves to increase and foster a sense of welcome and community in our Parish.
"I became involved with the Welcome Ministry soon after attending a “welcome gathering“, myself. This ministry offers some new faces and families at our parish a chance to meet parish staff, clergy and other active parishioners. They also are introduced to some of the many beautiful and rewarding parish activities that we offer.
By being involved in this ministry, I feel more part of the family that our parish community is. One of the things that I like most about our welcome gatherings is that we offer a warm, cozy and welcoming atmosphere, with candles, tablecloths and sometimes soft music. We share coffee and fresh fruit and volunteers even make some home-made goodies. It’s a brief time together that allows our new parishioners to find new friends and a sense of belonging. It also gives me the opportunity to stay close to some very special friends I have in the parish and the opportunity to make new ones." - Mary Murphy
"This ministry introduces new families in the parish to Immaculate Conception. We are their first contacts and they are so pleased to receive a call welcoming them to the parish. We meet the ones that come to our New People Socials and at first they are strangers but we all leave as friends." - Kathy Zec