Genuine caring and presence: Benedictine Hospitality

By Sister Stefanie MacDonald, OSB

Saturday I went to a workshop on liturgy given by David Haas. If you ever get a chance to hear him it is worth it. He was excellent!

In addition to other topics, David talked about hospitality. Of course as a Benedictine with hospitality being one of our charisms, my ears perked up.

David was clear: hospitality is about extending ourselves for the sake of another. It’s about asking someone how they are doing … and meaning it. It’s about remembering them.

He said hospitality is much more – at church – than just handing out bulletins.

I have a wonderful example from my own life, when I was a member of a big parish in Cedar Rapids. Dr. Dustin Vu was our pastor, and showed warm and loving hospitality to us all. For one thing, he has a great memory for names. And who doesn’t like to hear her or his name?

But he did more than that. Besides greeting people with genuine presence – when he said “how are you?,” he meant it – he missed us when we were not at church. He would ask if everything was okay. If he had seen us at choir practice during the week, he would reference that. In other words, he met us where we were.

For me, it was a wonderful feeling. I felt like I was part of this great parish family who really cared about me.

For a world that aches for community, there is nothing better than genuine hospitality.

My Benedictine community is like that. When it has been a busy week at school and I have had to stay late many nights, I hear I have been missed. I also miss the Sisters when they are traveling or working late.

If you long for the sense of belonging and acceptance that true hospitality creates – and are a single Catholic woman – contact me at I’ll fill you in on what it means for me! 🙂

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