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KOTA KINABALU – Sixty-four wardens from Sacred Heart Cathedral here and Church of Mary Immaculate Bukit Padang attended a long-awaited formation programme at the parish centre on 2 June 2018.
The programme was first mooted early this year by the Faith Formation Committee to the Parish Pastoral Council.
A meeting was called with the chief coordinator Paul Jikiun and his various coordinators from the three language Masses (English, Chinese, BM) to discuss the possibility of such formation.
It was found that they had not had any formation for a long time. Many of them learned to serve while on the job and many are not aware of the importance of their special calling to this ministry
At the one-day session, assistant priest Father Paul Lo gave the Biblical basis of the ministry of hospitality based on Gen 18:1-8 where Abraham welcomed the three visitors, not knowing that he actually welcomed God.
Fr Lo stressed the importance of the ministry because wardens are the frontliners in the Church. They are the first people the parishioners will meet on entering the Church. Parishioners may judge the warmth or the coldness of the Church by how they are treated.
In her session, Pauline Wong, a parish councillor, said that most experts say a visitor has as little as just a few minutes to make up his mind about the type of parish we have.
“People may forget what you said, people may forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel,” underlined Wong.
She added “It is good to be aware that each parishioner or visitor to a church has their own reasons for coming. Some may feel the urge to come, while some may experience a critical event in their life (death, illness). Others come to marry, to baptise, or even church shopping. Coming to a new church for many can be a frightening experience as they do not know the dos and don’ts.”
Hospitality is an art. It requires a large dose of creativity, innovation, motivation and inspiration as the same actions may elicit different reactions. One must offer, where called for, individualised and unique attention.
The councillor gave them the tools on how to greet parishioners, how to usher them to their seats, and how to make them feel welcomed; in essence, trying to make Sacred Heart parish into one that is welcoming and exuding warmth.
From the feedback, the wardens received well the imparted skills to tackle difficult parishioners. They appreciated that their ministry is being taken seriously by the parish.
It is a start for many more follow-up sessions to make the ministry of hospitality as one that the parish could be proud of.
The ministry is currently on a drive to recruit more members. Interested persons may contact Paul Jikiun @ 011- 3226 2108 or the parish office @ 224742 of 262028. – FFC/PPC