By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
Catholics often consider their parishes “welcoming and vibrant,” said Andre Lesperance, a senior ministry consultant and content developer with The Evangelical Catholic. However, parishes demonstrate a true sense of hospitality when their members make a conscious effort to build relationships. Relationship building provides “the key to understanding the fullness of what a culture of hospitality is all about,” he said.
Lesperance presented a workshop, “Creating a Culture of Relationship and Hospitality,” at the Vision 20/20 Convocation at St. Ambrose University in Davenport in June, during which he explained why creating such a culture helps spread the Good News.
Building relationships requires Catholics to meet people where they are at and to accompany them, as opposed to simply spouting off the Catechism. “We’re asked not just to share the Gospel, but to share ourselves,” he said. Catholics should be passionate about building relationships with people inside and outside the church walls. “Every human has a need to be cared for.”
Lesperance encouraged workshop participants to reflect on practical ways to live out what Pope Francis calls the art of accompaniment, “which teaches us to remove our sandals before the sacred ground of the other.”
God calls Catholics to spread the Gospel message. While some might not feel qualified to do so, Lesperance said God has been using broken people “since day one” to spread the Good News.
“Even as we continue to be saved by Christ, he calls us individually to some people in our lives who will only hear the Gospel from us. … That’s a powerful idea and the church embraces us and calls us to that.”
You can find this presentation on creating a culture of relationship and hospitality online via podcast at https://diocese-of-davenport.simplecast.com.
Many of the presentations from the Vision 20/20 Convocation are available for viewing or listening. Go to the Diocese of Davenport’s website at www.davenportdiocese.org. Topics include, accompanying immigrants; reaching out to families; evangelizing youths and young adults; evangelizing the “churched;” evangelizing in an age of secularism, atheism and scientism; sharing faith stories; evangelizing in small parishes; and church teaching on sexuality and sexual identity.