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Somewhere around last Wednesday my legs finally stopped being so stiff and sore from running the 5K “Run for the Poor” which was part of our parish Oktoberfest festivities last Saturday. I am not really a runner and I did not take the time to do any kind of training so I knew that I would pay for running the race, but it was totally worth it—I beat Fr. Jirak’s time by over a minute!

This was my first Blessed Sacrament Oktoberfest and going in I did not really know what to expect, but I have to say that I was thoroughly impressed by the whole event. Not only was the food hot, the beer cold, and the music lively, but there was so much going on which made the event so memorable (including Fr. Jirak walking around in his lederhosen). As I walked around I was struck by the sheer number of people, but more so by the mixture of old and young enjoying a fun evening together in a truly family friendly environment. Throughout the day I was able to meet so many parishioners that I had never had an opportunity to meet before, as well as Catholics from surrounding parishes and also a large number of non-Catholics. What I heard over and over consistently throughout the day was how welcoming and inviting the atmosphere was and how visitors felt right at home.

“When I was a stranger, you welcomed me” (Mt. 25:35). With these words Jesus taught that whenever we welcome the stranger and the least of our brothers and sisters we welcome him. This is why Hospitality is the first of the four pillars of stewardship. To make Stewardship a way of life entails that the Christian Disciple will make others feel welcomed, which is also the first step of evangelization. Something as simple as taking the time to introducing yourself to an unfamiliar face after mass can go a long way in how our parish is perceived and whether or not people feel welcomed.

I would just like to take a moment to thank all of those who volunteered to help make this event such a big success, and to all the people who came out to support our parish and to grow together as a parish family. My we continue to grow in the Stewardship way of life and look for ways to exercise hospitality with all those we encounter.

In Christ through Mary,

Fr. Curtis Hecker

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