A Culture of Welcome

By Ty Salvant

Considering the challenges of managing young children during Mass, how do you show love and support to the family with littles?

Last night at Mass, we sat behind the sweetest family. A 2-year-old was accompanied by her parents, grandmother and newborn sister. She was curious, creative and community-oriented. She wondered about the people around her, what they were doing, what objects they had and was willing to share information about herself.

Proud of her work, the little artist showed her accomplishments with the biggest smile.

Of course, her parents encouraged her to be quiet and not distract those around her. We’d make eye contact, and I’d share a knowing smile with the parents to reassure them their daughter was not a problem.

I had a desire to make this little girl feel loved. So, whenever she showed me her artwork, I smiled, nodded my approval or complimented the picture. She was appropriately quiet enough and did not distract from my Mass attendance. Instead, she allowed me to reflect Christ’s love to her.

After Mass, I shared a few tips that helped me manage littles and reassured them that it gets easier.

Hopefully, that family will continue to come to Mass with their littles, even though it’s a challenge. Maybe, they will extend grace to a family who needs to feel God’s loving presence through them. Maybe another person saw me and lessened the scowl on their face because Mass was not silent.

Answering God’s call to love thy neighbor is not just about performing acts of kindness, but also about creating a welcoming and nurturing environment that allows others to feel God’s presence through us. I can’t think of a better place for that to occur than the church!

How are you creating a culture of welcome in your parish?

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