Sunday, July 16, 2017
By Patti Dougherty
Whom among us doesn’t desire to feel welcomed? As a new parishioner at Old St Pat’s nearly ten years ago, I attended a New Member Dinner where I was formally welcomed to OSP. Besides learning the rich history of the church and the mission of the parish, I met about 25 other new members. Like undoubtedly so many before me, I already felt that radical hospitality that is synonymous with OSP before attending the dinner, but was eager to learn more about “my” new church. As a life-long Catholic, in the five parishes that I had attended as an adult, this was the first new member dinner for which I had been extended an invitation. So how could I possibly say “No” to being wined and dined?!!
At the time I attended, the dinner was catered, served by OSP volunteers, and held in Hughes Hall. It was a lovely occasion, with a tour of the church, cocktail gathering, dinner, a welcome by Father Hurley, and an opportunity to introduce oneself and how each of us made our way to OSP. As a result of attending the dinner, I wanted to extend the hospitality that had been shown to me by volunteering my time to help serve the monthly dinners.
At the time I served my first dinner, the venue had moved to the church rectory and was now being planned and prepared by OSP member, Joe Schroeder, a personal chef who volunteered his time and incredible talent. In 2014 Joe had an opportunity to move to North Carolina with his partner, all involved with the dinners were saddened by the news. But as fate (or the Holy Spirit) would have it, at the last dinner he prepared, Zahra Kasza was in attendance with her husband, Tom. In learning that it would be Joe’s last dinner, Zahra, a nutritionist and former restaurant owner in Nantucket, stepped up to replace him. Aided by her mother, Shirin, at her side, she seamlessly filled Joe’s big shoes, continuing the tradition of preparing feasts fit for kings. Because of the Journey Forward Campaign which included remodeling of the rectory, last year the dinners moved from the rectory to either a restaurant or the 711 building. As we edge closer to coming full circle, we are all eager to return to the beautifully renovated new rectory which will hopefully take place in late summer.
If you or someone you know is new to Old St. Pat’s and has not yet been extended an invitation to attend a New Member Dinner, feel free to contact Lauren McCallick, Director of Development, at 312-831-9355 or at laurenm@ oldstpats.org. New members are also offered an invitation to meet with a new member ambassador to help them navigate the many ministries, services, and activities of interest to them at OSP
As I look back, little did I know at that first dinner how something as simple as the call to volunteer would change my life. How was I to know that the other volunteers would become close personal friends with whom we would share the special occasions of our lives, the joys and heartaches of life, and impromptu “Just Pizza” nights with lively discussions about spirituality and religion. How was I to know that at an age that is considered beyond middle age, I would make new friends that I felt I had known my entire life, and that I know will forever be an integral part of my life. How was I to know that OSP which draws from 200+ zip codes would be my adult spiritual home comparable only to the 30-family St. Isidore Catholic Church, my childhood spiritual home nestled among the corn and bean fields in Central Illinois.
The New Member Dinner Volunteers and the New Member Ambassadors are two ministry groups at Old St. Pat’s. Our dinner volunteers host new members for a special meal once per month. Our New Member Ambassadors are responsible for reaching out to recent additions to the Old St. Pat’s community. They welcome new members with a phone call or email and work to set up one-on-one conversations for further discussion and sharing. We are so blessed to have volunteers like Pat Dougherty who really are the face of hospitality to new Old St. Pat’s members. If you might be interested in either (or both!) of these ministries, please reach out to Lauren McCallick (email@example.com, 312-831-9355) for more information.