(Photo courtesy Holy Name Parish)
Holy Name of Jesus School students help serve treats after Mass at the San Francisco parish. The students are pictured with pastor Father Arnold E. Zamora and Sister Esther Ling, director of religious education.
HAVE A DONUT…
February 29th, 2012
By Valerie Schmalz
Post-liturgy snacks help many parishes sustain a sense of fellowship
When it’s done right, serving donuts after Mass builds a sense of welcome and belonging.
In the Archdiocese of San Francisco, most parishes offer some kind of hospitality after one or more Masses – some every Sunday, some on special occasions, some once a month.
At St. Denis Church, the weekly children’s Mass draws the biggest crowd and “absolutely” features donuts and coffee and juice, said Lynore Tillim, office manager for the Menlo Park parish.
“At the 9:30, the kids run around and it makes for a wonderful sense of community,” Tillim said. The 11:30 a.m. Mass includes wine and cheese, and even salami, after Mass once a month, too.
“Not a lot of wine is poured,” Tillim said. “What it does, it builds a sense of community. It has the advantage of having people linger and they’ll chat.”
At St. Veronica Parish in South San Francisco, “Oh, my gosh, hospitality is very big,” said Sandy Kearney, parish manager. Donuts, little pastries, sometimes fresh fruit and a selection of juices and coffee are offered after the 8 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. Masses, she said.
“It is an integral part of our community-building,” Kearney said. “It is especially nice when you see a lot of the families after the 9:30 Mass from the school and parish, networking together.”
Hospitality is about much more than grabbing a snack, it is about bringing all kinds of people together, said pastor Father Charles Puthota, adding, “It’s a joy for me to tell the children after the Masses to ‘run and get a donut.’”
“Too often, parishioners do not know each other. They might be attending the same Mass for decades, but they have not had a chance to meet and talk with each other,” said Father Puthota. “There is a lot of anonymity in the parishes. I suppose it’s part of Catholic culture. Hospitality helps break down anonymity and bring people together.”
“Unless we know each other, how can we serve one another and build up the ‘body of Christ’?” the priest asked.
Even donuts after Mass can fail if parishioners congregate in cliques, warns Rochester, N.Y.-based Richard McCorry, author of “Company’s Coming: A Spiritual Process for Creating More Welcoming Parishes” (iUniverse, Inc., 2008). He said he has visited hundreds of Catholic parishes as a stranger in his work advising parishes on ways to accentuate a sense of welcome.
“My most common experience is that I feel like I’m invisible, like my presence makes no difference to anyone,” McCorry said. With about a third of registered parishioners attending Mass on a weekly basis, McCorry said everyone in the parish needs to become involved in reaching out to those around them. One tool he suggests is for each parishioner to find a new person to talk with during the first three minutes after Mass.
At Mass, studies have shown the first three minutes may determine if a newcomer returns, he said.
“When the person in the pew next to me welcomes me, that is a wow experience,” said McCorry.
Hospitality has its own character at individual parishes – whether it means groups sharing the responsibility, the parish buying snacks, or different parish groups hosting breakfasts that become a tradition.
For instance, the Corpus Christi Bible-study group offers breakfast after Mass on Sundays at the San Francisco parish. At St. Mary’s Cathedral, there are a variety of Spanish delicacies for sale after the 1 p.m. Spanish Mass and coffee and donuts after the7:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. Masses. At Holy Family Mission, the Chinese Catholic parish associated with Old St. Mary’s Cathedral, tea, coffee and light refreshments are offered after 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. Masses outside the auditorium where Mass is celebrated. St. Andrew’s in Daly City has had hospitality organized by the Knights of Columbus at every Mass –and it has been in place at least since the ‘90s, said Leo Redondo, administrative assistant.
In Novato, St. Anthony of Padua Parish buys its donuts from Golden Creme Donuts and the Knights of Columbus pick up the donuts and make the coffee for weekly hospitality after the 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Masses, said Marianne Kamber, parish secretary. “The people look forward to it,” Kamber said, noting quite a few older people catch up with friends during hospitality. At Church of the Good Shepherd in Pacifica, Mazetti Bakery donates the donuts. St. Anselm Parish in San Anselmo tends to chocolate chip cookies and animal crackers.
St. Bartholomew in San Mateo rotates the responsibility for hospitality but it goes beyond donuts after Mass, said Lois Pileri, hospitality chair. Holy cards are distributed by one group, Halloween candy and Christmas candy by others. “As a ministry, our goal is to build community in the parish. We do that by partnering with others,” Pileri said. “Community-building, that’s the whole aim.”
At St. Thomas More parish, pastor Msgr. Labib Kobti said refreshments after Mass are “a way to let people talk to each other and people love it.”
“These moments are really very holy moments. You convert people. They say, my son is coming for the first time, can you speak to him? You speak to him while he is eating a cake, while he is drinking a soda,” Msgr. Kobti said.
St. Raphael Parish in San Rafael hosts hospitality the first Sunday of the month after the 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Masses. At St. Rita, its coffee and donuts and juice after the 9 a.m. Mass every Sunday. Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Mill Valley hosts hospitality outside, with groups of parents chatting and children running around on the sidewalk outside. A parish couple, Steve and Ellie Reyder have organized the weekly 10:15 a.m. Mass treats for 15 years, said Gina Carneiro, parish office manager. “It gives the children a chance to relax and the parents all talk. It’s a nice social time,” Carneiro said.
Parishes with hospitality hours after Mass
San Francisco County
St. Mary’s Cathedral; Church of the Epiphany; Church of the Visitacion; Corpus Christi; Holy Family Mission; Holy Name of Jesus; Mission Dolores Basilica; Most Holy Redeemer; National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi; Notre Dame des Victoires; Our Lady of Lourdes; St. Agnes; St. Anne of the Sunset; St. Anthony of Padua/Immaculate Conception; St. Benedict/St. Francis Xavier; St. Brendan; St. Cecilia; St. Dominic; St. Elizabeth; St. Ignatius; St. James; St. John of God; St. John the Evangelist; St. Kevin; St. Monica; St. Patrick; St. Paul; St. Paul of the Shipwreck; St. Philip the Apostle; St. Stephen; St. Thomas the Apostle; St. Teresa; St. Thomas More; St. Vincent de Paul; Star of the Sea; Sts. Peter and Paul.
San Mateo County
All Souls, South San Francisco; Church of the Good Shepherd, Pacifica; Immaculate Heart of Mary, Belmont; Mater Dolorosa, South San Francisco; Our Lady of Angels, Burlingame; Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Redwood City; Our Lady of Refuge Mission, La Honda; Our Lady of the Pillar, Half Moon Bay; Our Lady of the Wayside Mission, Portola Valley; St. Andrew, Daly City; St. Anthony, Menlo Park; St. Bartholomew, San Mateo; St. Charles, San Carlos; St. Denis, Menlo Park; St. Francis of Assisi, East Palo Alto; St. Luke, Foster City; St. Mark, Belmont; St. Matthew, San Mateo; St. Matthias, Redwood City; St. Peter, Pacifica; St. Pius, Redwood City; St. Raymond, Menlo Park; St. Robert, San Bruno; St. Timothy, San Mateo; St. Veronica, South San Francisco; St. Catherine of Siena, Burlingame.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Mill Valley; Sacred Heart Church/St. Mary Magdalene Mission, Olema; St. Anselm, San Anselmo/Ross; St. Anthony of Padua, Novato; St. Cecilia/St. Mary, Lagunitas; St. Hilary, Tiburon; St. Isabella, San Rafael; St. Mary Star of the Sea, Sausalito; St. Patrick, Larkspur; St. Raphael, San Rafael; St. Rita, Fairfax; St. Sebastian, Greenbrae.
Parishes offer hospitality Masses as often as weekly to bimonthly. For information on how to reach parishes, visit sfarchdiocese.org/parishes.
Editor’s note: This list is based on a thorough survey by Catholic San Francisco but is not necessarily inclusive.
From March 2, 2012 issue of Catholic San Francisco.