Since beginning at Blessed Sacrament in June of 2010, I have become ever more convinced of the importance of the first pillar of stewardship, hospitality. It was Bishop Gerber some 30 plus years ago that decided that hospitality must come before any of the other pillars even though the other pillars may be more important. Such an arrangement is analogous to the sacraments. We believe the Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life. It is the greatest of all of the sacraments. Yet, the Eucharist is not the first sacrament. The first sacrament is baptism. Without baptism, a person is unable to validly receive the Eucharist. The official law of the Catholic Church in the Code of Canon Law states: “Baptism, the gateway to the sacraments . . .” In a real way, we can say that hospitality is the gateway to the stewardship pillars of prayer, formation, and service.
Hospitality is based on a root word which means “guest.” And for us Catholics, not just any guest. We take up the spirit of St. Benedict who states, “Let all guests who arrive be received as Christ.” Hospitality is a “gate” that welcomes all into the community of Christ. However, as we know from the Gospels, a shepherd is always assigned to the “gate” for there are those who would walk through only to hurt and destroy. This is true both morally and physically.
In regards to the physical protection and safety of our parishioners at Blessed Sacrament, especially the most vulnerable, our youth and elders, this summer we have worked hard to review and improve the safety of our entire school and church campus.
In order to sustain our parish’s magnanimous spirit of hospitality, while assuring the safety and security of our house of worship and campus, I am introducing the following protocol to address loitering on the parish grounds.
In consultation with the WPD, we have been advised to be consistent in our treatment of those loitering on church property, as well as those who express financial and/or other needs. I ask parishioners when on parish property, to direct people requesting assistance to contact the parish office directly between the hours of 8:30 and 5:00 Monday through Friday. Outside of the stated hours please dial the Sacramental Emergency Line at 316-361-6015. The parish office staff will either assist them directly, connect them with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, another appropriate parish ministry or other resources available in Wichita.
I am also happy to announce that over the summer we installed new security cameras and enhanced security on doors, specifically those doors extending access from the church to the school, the east side of the church, and through the tunnel from Bishops Hall to the school cafeteria.