QUAERITUR: Extraordinary Ministers of Hospitality

From a reader:

I read an article about an African Mass. Apparently the Mass is the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite with African inculturations. Included in the entry procession are Extraordinary Ministers of Hospitality. The article did not state what an Extraordinary Minister of Hospitality is. I have never heard of the position and cannot find an article on it. I found an article on Hospitality Ministers. If you have time for an answer, I would be grateful.

Some years ago I attended in Rome a conference on liturgy and sacred music.  One of the panelists was a Cardinal from Africa (not Card. Arinze).  Someone asked him when we might see an African rite. His Eminence was amused.  He responded that in his country alone there were hundreds of languages, each language reflecting a culture.  On the other hand, Latin was useful for bringing people together.

So, I have no idea what an African Mass is.

As far as what an “Extraordinary Ministers of Hospitality” would be… I am at a loss.  The extra… ushers?  Collection takers?  Another way to describe Extraordinary Ministers of Communion?

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  1. robtbrown says:

    I was once told by someone from Pennsylvania that ushers there were said to be in a Hospitality Ministry.

  2. Jim says:

    Extraordinary Ministers of Hospitality? Who are the Ordinary Ministers?

    Why would Catholics need ministers for hospitality when at home? Isn’t “hospitality” for guests ? I would be offended if someone at home were to treat me like a guest.

    Or maybe the Knights Hospitallers are now in Africa. Who knows. This is a crazy world.

  3. Fr AJ says:

    My guess here is the writer of the article confused Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion with these greeters at the door or mistakenly put “Extraordinary” in while describing these so called Ministers of Hospitality.

    Some parishes in US have greeters at the door saying hello and handing out bulletins and call them Hospitality Ministers. This comes from the fad from several years ago that everything is a “ministry” and everyone is a “minister” of some sort. Just a bit silly.

  4. Darren says:

    Maybe these are the “greeters” we see in so many ordinary parishes. People who stand at the doors and greet you with a hearty “good morning!” as you walk into the church, with their name tag so you know who they are. They may see you on the way out and say “bye now, thanks for coming!”

    Another useless ministry so common today. The best way, I feel, to be “welcoming” as so many pastors see as their number 1 mission, is to have a mass celebrated reverently so the people, regulars and visitors, will know that this parish knows how to celebrate mass and focus on Our Lord above all else. If it’s a OF mass, why not throw in some Latin and Gregorian Chant? Chant during the offertory and during Communion. Good ole hymns (mainly pre-1900) at the beginning and end.

    THAT would be hospitality! YES, WE ARE CATHOLIC HERE!!!!!

  5. Many U.S. parishes have “welcoming ministers” who stand in the narthex and welcome worshipers arriving for Mass. And perhaps also “parking (lot) ministers” who see them on their way after Mass.

    A local parish whose Sunday bulletin I just checked has a section entitled Ministries that lists twenty nine (29) separate “ministries” in which parishioners can serve–everyone a minister in his own way?– including, yes, Hospitality. (The ones who serve coffee and doughnuts after Mass?)

  6. MikeM says:

    Some parishes in my area call the ushers hospitality ministers.

    While it doesn’t do anything for me, personally, being a regular Mass attendee already, and, even if I disguise it well, an introvert, I’m not sure that having someone say hello at the door is a bad idea. I’ve heard from some people who have had some interest in Catholicism that they decided to go in to see what Mass was like, and they felt uncomfortable since no one really acknowledged their presence. Having someone at the door with a name tag might help them feel less like they shouldn’t be there, and might give people someone to go to with questions if they’re uncomfortable approaching the priest without an introduction.

  7. EoinOBolguidhir says:

    I would prefer Ministers of Extraordinary Hospitality.

    Were these the men form Monty Python’s Spanish Inquisition plying people with pillows?
    Are they related to Eddie Izzard’s Anglican Style (“DEATH?!, or cake?”) Inquisition.

  8. The Zaire Use of the Roman Rite (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zaire_Use) may incorporate different things. African singing/dancing is far more part of the African culture than guitars and tamourines are part of ours, and so is welcoming people, and therefore perhaps far more legitimately incorporated. Having never been to a Zaire Use Mass, as far as I am aware, I can’t comment further on it than to say that.

    Our Masses, when the regular congregation is mostly black, there may be (not necessarily) a lot more traditional singing, and the singing goes along with dancing, and clapping as part of the dance routine. (I don’t mean the male mine dancers stamping their boots or the topless female dancers, which, btw, we do not consider offensive here. These things are cultural and not done in churches. The dancing is more like lifting one’s feet up and down and swaying in place, but very different from the charismatics.) Greetings are more prominent, in my experience, and that may require “hospitality ministers” who, I expect, would be laity – so no idea how “extraordinary” fits in there, unless they are normally men/women and the other sex helps out sometimes. Sometimes males and females are separated – my experience was men on the right and women on the left, and we didn’t know and sat with the women. The intensity of the celebration is greater – after the baptisms at an Easter Vigil Mass once the singing went on for 30 minutes. Things like this differ from parish to parish, and culture to culture.

  9. wmeyer says:

    Henry… only 29? My former parish has something like 90. And the head of each seems to think he needs a meeting with the pastor each month. Insanity.

  10. wecahill says:

    Don’t we already have African masses? They would be in the Coptic rite and the Ethiopian rite!!!

  11. acricketchirps says:

    The Hospitallery Ministers (sp?) greet you at the door. The Extraordinary Hospitallery Ministers willl also keep out the Saracens.

  12. tzard says:

    Having “ministries” for everything is one thing, but tacking “extraordinary” on is the puzzling part.

    I suspect years of using and abusing “extraordinary ministers of Holy communion” has desensitized many to the real meaning of the words (let alone the law) – to the point they unconsciously think “extraordinary” needs to be tacked on to something to make it official for mass.

    Perhaps when the ordinary “coffee and doughnuts” group is indisposed, these are the shock troops to come in with cheese danish at a moment’s notice.

  13. Moro says:

    Why does everybody have to be a “minister” What the hell is wrong with being a greeter or usher, or just a guy in the pews? Are people’s lives so dull they feel compelled to label themselves as ministers to compensate? Or is it some deranged power trip? I’m happy in my vocation as a layman and I’m more than happy to sit quietly in the pews, put money in the collection plate, and pray.

  14. APX says:

    Moro, I suspect it has to do with making people feel special and appreciated and started around the same time inflated job titles developed in North America (ie: Window washers are now “transparent surface technicians” and the garbage man is now the “environmental management officer”. I once had an unemployed client tell me he was a “social services quality control consultant” that is, he was unemployed and on welfare *eye roll*.)

  15. jflare says:

    OK, I realize my thoughts can be wacky, but the first thought that came to MY mind was…

    Oh, the folks who go to visit shut-ins in their homes.

    Hey, I’ve heard all kinds of goofy names for the most mundane of tasks, so why not?

  16. Jim says:

    Yesterday when I mentioned in a comment above that it feels ridiculous to be “welcomed” when I go to assist at Holy Mass (and NOT when I “go to Church” – protestants “go to Church”, Catholics “assist at Holy Mass” or “go to Mass”) – no matter what the “ministers” are called (ushers, extraordinary Knight Hospitallers or what not) I thought I was just weird. Apparently not so! This morning I stumble across this sermon on Audio Sancto, and I hear the exact same thing (thank you anonymous Father at Audio Sancto):

    Part 1: Catholic Counter-Revolution

    The reason why I feel that way is cause I do not go to Mass “to feel good” or “welcomed”. I go there to meet the love of my life – my Lord. Its my desire to go there and I am not there because someone “invited and welcomed”. I don’t go there to feel good or comfortable (though those may be bonus graces that I may receive if God wills it and I am open). The opposite of “not being welcomed by a person” is not “un-welcome”, its just “nothing”.

    Isn’t this yet another failed attempt to bring down the Mass to our level (which is impossible) – as Renee Catherine speaks in her video on another of Fr Z’s posts ? The place to be welcomed at is the confessional not the Mass – and I think the confessor is the “Ordinary Minister for Extraordinary Hospitality”. Confession is what would make me comfortable and welcome to the Lamb’s supper, not an “minister”.

  17. Gaz says:

    Well, we definitely have an undersupply of porters in the Church nowadays. We have to fulfil the requirement using extraordinary means.

  18. Supertradmum says:

    In my parish in Iowa a long time ago, we had Ministers of Hospitality-yes, that was the name. These were the greeters at the door, which, personally, I think we can do without. Reminds me of Wal-Mart. The ladies who made the food for after the funeral Masses, a custom which is pre-Vatican II, by a long stretch of time, are not the hospitality ministers, nor are those in charge of dough-nuts and coffee. Just greeters….

  19. The Cobbler says:

    There’s a song about those greeters… (couldn’t find a link to just the song in question, but here it is…) http://youtu.be/HxKeCmTCDV4?t=3m38s

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