I’ve been working with a recently merged parish in the Archdiocese of Hartford for the past year and wanted to share their new Welcome Ministry Initiative with you today. It began as a seed in the mind of one of their new parishioners who received a bulletin, envelopes, and a simple letter from the pastor upon registration and is now a full blown ministry (even in the midst of Covid-19) to welcome parishioners. One of the older gentlemen who recently received a Welcome Bag said this to his son, “I have never had a Catholic Church welcome me like this! Gifts and information delivered right to my door!”
The goal of the ministry is to ensure all new members feel the sense of hospitality the parish is striving for. Their patron is St. Damien of Molokai, a man who cared for lepers on the Island of Molokai, Hawaii – a state know for its hospitality. I’ve suggested this idea to many parishes and they always ask “what do we put in it?” I asked St. Damien’s Welcome Ministry if I could share what they put in their welcome bags and some of their process, so here’s an example.
From the upper left corner: The finished bag with the card that was dropped off at the new family’s home, a photo of what’s included in the custom printed bag, a note welcoming the new parishioner including an explanation of why it is delayed (Covid-19), a hand-knit pineapple washcloth, and a folder with information about the parish.
The folder includes the following items:
- Latest approved minutes from the Parish Council Meeting
- St. Gabriel School Brochure with a document that promotes it titled: 10 Reasons to Attend St. Gabriel School
- Latest Bulletin
- Two sided document: Timeline of our Parish History and Biography Timeline of St. Damien of Molokai clipped with a cross magnetic bookmark
- Parish Vision Plan
- Listing of Ministries and their contact information
- Document talking about what Stewardship is
- Prayer Bookmark
- Info card on how to install myParish App on your phone for weekly updates from the Pastor
The Welcome Ministry didn’t let Covid-19 get in the way of their hospitality, thinking it was even more important now than ever before since these new members weren’t able to physically be part of the community for the past few months.
They’ve also recruited other ministries in the parish to take part including the Religious Education students creating a craft, the Rosary group making rosaries, and the parish knitters are making the wash cloths.
The next big project is to have enough Welcome Bags ready for all registered households of the small neighboring parish that will be merging into St. Damien later this fall.
How does your parish welcome new families? It’s not too late to start a great new ministry!!