The past few months have been busy for the fledgling Hospitality Committee of St. Augustine Parish in Montpelier, which has embraced the vision to “create the most vibrant, caring and welcoming parish community, where all will find a spirit of fellowship that nurtures our spiritual growth.”

Father Julian Asucan, pastor, proposed the establishment of the committee at a parish council meeting, in line with the priorities of the diocesan synod which included reaching out to youth and young adults; building a stronger, more welcoming community; and reaching out to Catholics and non-Catholics who feel marginalized, explained committee chairperson June Knudsen.

From the first meeting in May, with a dozen active members, the committee brainstormed more than 40 possible activities in three categories: parish-based fellowship; welcoming activities; and larger community based activities.

Since then, the group had one major event each month from June to August, including a high school graduates’ celebration, a good-bye celebration for the parish secretary and a St. Augustine Feast Day coffee hour.

The committee began an ongoing card ministry for special anniversaries, birthdays and for anyone needing cheering up. In September, members hosted refreshments for a healing service and reinstituted a coffee hour after the 10 a.m. Mass.

“The response from those participating in coffee hour has been very positive,” said Cynthia Murphy, coffee hour coordinator and life-long parishioner. “People have expressed appreciation, often staying longer than the hour,” she said, noting that, on average, 40 to 50 people attend the weekly event.

Murphy recruits and coordinates volunteers, including a host or hostess for each coffee hour, all of whom take on, or share, a variety of tasks. The parish, she said, supplies coffee, tea, sugar and paper products as well as the use of the kitchen.

The committee has been working hard to draw in other parishioners beyond the committee members to share their talents as hosts, bakers and quilt makers, among other things, said Knudsen, who is also an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion and member of the Catholic Daughters of the Americas and the parish council.

“I feel like our parish is beginning to bloom into a welcoming, strong, spiritual community. These beginning events have already created friendships anew,” Knudsen said.

Murphy agreed that the ministry has been good for the parish. “The fruits from the ministry have already been bountiful. It has given parishioners who have a desire, ability and good ideas a vehicle to help strengthen the parish community in ways they could not do as individuals,” she added.

Committee plans included a Harvest Pot Luck in November, a “Blankets for New Babies” ministry, finding ways for homebound parishioners to be involved in the parish and training for automated external defibrillator use.

To volunteer for events, contact the parish at 802-223-5285.

Originally published in the Winter 2018 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.