Most Christians are familiar with the exhortation from St Paul:
“Let hospitality be your boast.”
Our aim to be the friendly parish is achieved in various ways: by parishioners simply offering a friendly smile or cheerful hello to others as they come to worship at The Table of the Lord, by parishioners who have chosen to be Welcomers, greeting fellow parishioners and visitors at the entrance of the Cathedral handing them a bulletin as they arrive for Sunday Mass or for other special liturgical celebrations, and by a core group of parishioners known as The Hospitality Group.
History of the Hospitality Ministry at St Patrick’s Cathedral Parish
The Hospitality Group began before the fire consumed the Cathedral in February, 1996. It was the initiative of Leo Stanton, a Parish Council Member at that time. Initially, Morning Tea took place in the Parish Hall one Sunday per month, the same Sunday the Library operated, so there were three sessions after the 8, 9.30 and 11 am Masses. However, after discussion of members at that time, it was agreed that this Hospitality Outreach should be offered on other Sundays, too, but only after the 9.30 and 11am Masses.
When the old Marist Boys Primary School building was refurbished as the Pro-Cathedral, it was decided to set up Sunday Morning Tea in the other school building, dubbed The Motel Block by Fr John. Boyle. (the car park now occupies this area.). We used the end room which had access to a little garden area looking out onto Victoria Road. At the garden entrance was a little niche holding a statue of Our Lady, so we named it The Grotto Café. Here, under a beautiful ancient Cedrus Deodar parishioners enjoyed meeting ‘al fresco’. The Hospitality Team faced the primitive conditions cheerfully and stoically—no running water meant fetching it in buckets, Jack’n Jill style, from the tap behind the Parish Hall, no sink, so washing up had to be done in big plastic dishes. We even had our first Christmas Morning Tea at this venue. It was a huge hit!
The Cathedral’s rebuilding forced relocation to a hall, (which had earlier been a church) in the grounds of the Cumberland Hospital—St Patrick’s in the Fields as it was affectionately known. At least here the Hospitality Group had more civilised amenities, a kitchen with running water, a sink and even oven facilities. Sheer luxury!
Returning home in November, 2003, the Cloister Café was born. Now the Hospitality Group operates in "state of the art" facilities. Since our beginnings and through all the upheaval, our motto remains unchanged.
What is the focus of The Hospitality Group?
The group’s main arena of action is the Cloister Café. It is here each Sunday after 9.30 am and 11 am Masses that rostered members serve Morning Tea (and Coffee, too!), FREE! You can’t charge for Hospitality!
Parishioners and visitors to the Cathedral have the opportunity to gather in a relaxed atmosphere, chat with friends over a cuppa, catch up with people they might not have seen for some time, offer a sympathetic ear to someone in need, meet new people, and generally socialise. If any of the priests are able to join us it’s an ‘added bonus’!
Whilst all supplies come out of Parish Funds, parishioners are encouraged to bring along cakes, biscuits and special treats as their contribution to the Hospitality Drive. And they do so without fuss or fanfare.
The Hospitality Group often helps out at special parish events and social functions like the Parish Christmas Party.
Great occasions for serving God come seldom. Little ones surround us daily.
And so the tradition continues…Let Hospitality be our boast….
May it always be thus, as long as St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta exists!!