The hospitality of entertaining angels

Margaret Walker and Fr. John Jirak listen to Dave Saunders. They were part of the Magdalen team that attended the workshop. (Advance photos)

Parishes learn about the first step in evangelization

Nearly 200 representatives from 33 parishes in the Diocese of Wichita learned earlier this month that evangelization begins with simple hospitality.

They were part of an all-day or two-evening Entertaining Angels workshop Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 in Good Shepherd Hall at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita.

Audrey Ronnfeldt, coordinator of the diocesan Stewardship Office, helped organize the event. She said she hopes all who attended would learn that hospitality is a form of evangelization, the first step towards evangelization.
The workshop corresponds with Bishop Carl A. Kemme’s Pastoral Priority of “Formation of Evangelization in order to Preach the Gospel to all people,” she pointed out.

Moving ahead with action plans

To further that vision, Ronnfeldt said she hopes those who participated will proceed with their action plans and commit to them. Entertaining Angels will assist parishes to further their evangelization plans by following-up with additional materials, including video clips and action items. Ronnfeldt said she, too, would follow up.

“I have overwhelming gratitude for everyone that attended, for people feeling the Holy Spirit moving within us at that time,” she said. “For people, for individuals to give six hours of their time, that’s incredible. It shows that there is a commitment to wanting to do more and to fulfill bishop’s mission and vision of evangelization.”
One of the topics of the workshop was prayer.

“They talked about a call to holiness. Do we live our identity as beloved sons and daughters of a loving Father? Another focus was on prayer and different types of prayer and how we relate to one another and how prayer is really the foundation for everything that we do,” Ronnfeldt said. “Do we allow Christ to work through us and draw us closer to him?”

The Entertaining Angels presenters also discussed joy, service, and peace, and how joy is a choice, she said. “You can’t be at peace if you are not obedient. So, are you praying and asking the Lord, what is it that you would like for me to do today? Who is it that you would like for me to pray for?”

One of the speakers, Ronnfeldt said, impressed her with this observation: “What you give to the world is what it keeps of you.”

She said it was a powerful statement. “Are you giving garbage or are you giving life? Are you giving your best? Are you giving joy?”

Ronnfeldt said many stewards assisted in the workshop, especially Clista Pfannenstiel and Jenny Friend.

Presenter gets good feedback

Adam Janke, one of the workshop presenters said they received a lot of positive feedback. “I have to say, the members who attended are among the most hungry people for change that I have worked with on a hospitality workshop.”

He said he believes the workshop will help serve as a launching pad to culture change if participants are able to encourage pastors to implement hospitality plans. “There is revival happening all over the U.S. with seeds sprouting all over, and those seeds are certainly sprouting throughout Wichita,” Janke said.

Cassi FitzGerald, director of Faith Formation at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Clonmel, said the workshop inspired her because it gave “me the opportunity to hear why they’re passionate about hospitality in the ministries they’re involved in.”

Kathy Parsons, a member of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Wichita, said via email that Entertaining Angels was delightful, informative, and inspiring. “The witnessing presentations, and the group prayers, discussions, and activities all opened my heart and mind, ever wider to the ministry of God’s love I am called to, as a disciple of Jesus Christ.”

John Torline, a member of St. Michael Parish in Mulvane, said he found the workshop to be helpful in identifying many ways to offer the gift of hospitality to those in his parish and visitors. “Hospitality is the welcoming arm of evangelization,” he said in an email note. “It is what touches those who are new to the parish and those that have left the faith for whatever reason.”

Torline said it seems that the landscape of the Catholic Church has changed. “People still want to have a deeper relationship with God, but the traditional means that many of us have used to develop this relationship are not as effective as they once were,” he said.

“Today people want something that touches them personally. One of the big takeaways from the workshop for me was in today’s environment people want a closer relationship with God that is fostered by a closer relationship with each other.”

Jennifer Dresher said the workshop was a “terrific guide” for her ministry at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Wichita. “It helped me to see the value of creating a positive connection with people before inviting them to join in on a deeper level, and renewed the desire to serve wherever a need is found.”