“Hospitality means primarily the creation of free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer space where change can take place. It is not to bring man and woman over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines.” Henri J.M. Nouwen.

Prologue

Diana Butler Bass explained Hospitality in her book, “Christianity for the Rest of Us.”  She stated “Christians welcome strangers as we have been welcomed by God through the love of Jesus Christ. Through hospitality, Christians imitate God’s welcome.” It means Christians welcomeothers, justlike the way Jesus Christ welcomes us with His love.

Hospitality is very important. In today’s world, many people seem to be egotistical, lack of care about and concern for others. Theyseem very busy with their own lives orselfish.Christian hospitality means welcoming others with open arms. Jesus Christtaught us how to welcome othersby opening our hearts, reaching out and embracing all people.

Lenten Booklet 2018 of FCJM Sisters

The Lenten season of 2018 is a special time for our Congregation, we have one special booklet called“Do This in Memory of Me”.The General Council invited a small group of people, Sr. Alice Drewek, Sr. EmmanuelaSitorus, Sr. Gabriela Ludenbach, MarliesRoelofs and Sr. Diane Przyborowski to create this reflection booklet. The booklet addresses one of the recommendations of the 2015 General Chapter, “Engage the Congregation in theological/spiritual reflection about our varied and enriching understanding of prayer, adoration, Eucharist and Eucharist adoration.”

Our Congregation, both Sisters and Associates have been invited to join in prayers and reflection. So, the booklet has been translated in many languages based on the countries where FCJM Sisters live. As for myself, with the help of our English teachers, Sr. Pat Norton and Mrs. Pat Ruggaber who explained the booklet during my English class, I have been doing my own reflection.

 Hospitality Practices of Franciscans Sisters in the United States

Celebrating the Eucharist with Sisters and lay people in the Chapel

I feel very blessed that our Council in Indonesia gave me the opportunity to live in the United States and stay with our Sisters in Wheaton, Illinois. During this period of my stay in the Wheaton Community, I have a greater opportunity for sharing mutual spiritual support, cultural exchange, a sampling of American food, and learning the English language to help my work back in the FCJM Indonesian Province. I am staying in the Motherhouse of the Wheaton Franciscans Sisters, St. Clare Province of FCJM from December 2, 2017 to April 27, 2018. Since I have a few months here, I am optimizing my stay by learning as much as possible. I find living with Americans, especially our FCJM Sisters very interesting. If I want to write all my experiences with them, I will never be able to write it all here. Americans are a very kind and wonderful people. I could feel the pleasantness when I interacted with them in the English course, church, stores, and many other places.

Here are a few of my experiences with the hospitality practices of our Sisters in Wheaton:

Children are sharing song books with everyonewho comes to church.

1. Our Sisters care about and treated the staff and employees like friends and family. For example, staff are welcome to take food and drinks any time from the dining room, the staff birthdays get celebrated just like they are also our own sisters, and the staff can seek guidance from our Sisters through counseling especially when they have family or personal problems. All the Sisters take time to pray for them.

2. The chapel is open for anyone who wants to attend mass or use it anytime they want to pray. It is not just exclusively for the FCJM sisters. People can write what they want to pray for, post it on the bulletin board outside the chapel entrance, and our Sisters will pray for those intentions.

3.During Lenten season on Sundays after mass, our Sisters invite everybody to join one of the small groups for reflection using the 2018 Lenten booklet. People can also follow Lenten Stations of the Cross in the chapel.                           

 Epilogue

When I was searching for the definition of hospitality using google, I found so many. I like what Jean Keijdener says that hospitality is:

Annual Party Celebration with Sisters and staff in the dining room

H = Home

O = Openness

S = Secure

P = Peaceful

I  = Intelligent

T = Trust

A = Able

L = Listen

I  = Informative

T = Together

Y = You

 

The presence of hospitality in one’s life creates a home where people experience openness, feel secure and at peace, share their gifts, talents and ability. Greater trust comes while listening attentively to others information shared in mutual dialogue. As Henry Nouwen simply put, “hospitality creates a space where strangers can feel at home and become friends not enemies.”

In short, hospitality is about people welcoming others into their homes or other places where they work or spend their time. The main thing about Hospitality is to open one’s heart and receive other people with opened arms. (Sr. Angela Siallagan FCJM)