Monday, October 19, 2015

Archdiocese of Edmonton: RCIA and Hospitality

Monday greetings on a cool, clear, and crisp autumn day here in the Midwest.

On Thursday and Friday of last week, I was in the Archdiocese of Edmonton in Alberta, Canada. Edmonton is a beautiful "city on a hill." I took this photo from the grounds of the Archdiocesan pastoral center, a beautiful spot for sure.

On Thursday morning, members of the clergy gathered at the Providence Renewal Center for a morning session on the RCIA. The priests and deacons were engaged throughout the morning, as we talked about the rite; its history, vocabulary, and structure. After lunch we were joined by over fifty members of the laity who minister in Christian initiation in their parishes. We talked about the apprenticeship model. It was heartening to have the clergy and the laity all together to hear the same message about the originating vision for the catechumenate from the Second Vatican Council.

Most members of the clergy left at about three o'clock. I then worked with the laity, focusing on the movement from inquirers to disciples. Finally, we concentrated on the various moments of conversion and discernment in the RCIA process. It was a good day. I did have the opportunity to see the chapel at the renewal center, a lovely and peaceful place.

On Friday morning, the Archdiocese sponsored an event which drew people from nearly every parish in the Archdiocese. Creating hospitable and welcoming parishes is a priority in the diocese, so we spent an entire day focused on hospitality, which they termed "creating an oasis of mercy." Frankly, I found it amazing that a diocese would spend the large amount of time, energy, and resources on an entire day just on hospitality and welcome. And I was proud of the Archdiocese of Edmonton for doing so. The people gathered were so engaged. The reason why I was asked to speak was because of a post I wrote several months ago on this blog about the experience of welcome at Old Saint Patrick's here in Chicago.

I was asked to share that story as a starting point. Then those gathered shared stories of significant moments of hospitality they had experience in parishes.

I then gave a presentation on "Hospitality and the New Evangelization." In the afternoon, I shared insights about the practical ways to create a welcoming and hospitable parish. Then, the folks in attendance were asked to share their answers, at their tables, to five questions:
1. What is your personal intention when being hospitable?
2. What is your parish’s intention for becoming more hospitable?
3. What practical things can you do personally to become more hospitable?
4. How do you get to know the newcomers in your parish?
5. What practical things can your parish do so that parishioners and visitors alike experience real hospitality in every encounter with the parish?

Finally, at the end of the day, people were asked to choose a picture from among many pictures placed on a large table, a picture that captured the essence of the day for them. It was wonderful to see people hold up the chosen picture and to explain why they chose it.

What an inspiration for me and for any diocese willing to look at intentional hospitality!

I was treated to a tour of the cathedral in Edmonton, the Basilica of Saint Joseph.

The interior is stunning.

Photos of the altar and cathedra (the Archbishop's chair).

I always enjoy my time in Canada. I am of French-Canadian descent and I love hanging with lots of people whose last names end in "eau!"

I experienced such warm hospitality during my entire time in Edmonton. Special thanks to all the good people who welcomed me there.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

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