Hospitality on a Hot Day

By Katie Camario

Hospitality on a Hot Day

Father Carlos Rojas has served as the new pastor of St. Rita Catholic Church in Dade City FL., for just a few short weeks. In that time, he was motivated by scripture to launch an experiment of hospitality to meet and serve those in his new community. 

“I was wondering what would happen if, in the middle of the day when it’s hottest, I just went around and offered people free bottles of cold water,” said Fr. Rojas. “In a way, begging others to let me serve them.” 

His inspiration was a story told in Genesis 18: 3-5, where Abraham and Sarah showed generous hospitality to three visitors who came to them. With that in mind, Father Rojas set out to the city center equipped with a cooler full of water bottles and baked goods. 

“Excuse me, can I do something for you? I wish I could serve you,” he asked as he approached the people in his community. 

Although most people turned down the offer, those who accepted were deeply impacted and some were brought to tears by the surprise act of hospitality. 

“You made my day, I’m actually having a bad day,” said Susan, a Dade City resident who recently faced unemployment. 

“I want to come to your church. Someone walking around and sharing water and cookies, on a day like this, that’s a nice way to build the community,” said Susan. 

Father Rojas prayed with Susan and those who stopped to talk with him, making sure they know they are never alone because the Church is always ready to welcome them with open arms. 

“I walked around offering cold water and cookies, but in reality, what we are all most thirsty for is accompaniment. We all hunger for someone who would care to hear our story, to feel our pain, to walk with us, to be an instrument of God's accompaniment,” he said. 

Father Rojas challenges the faithful to do more to show hospitality to those around us and to always be a welcoming community that shares God’s love with one another together as One Body in Christ, a family in faith.

To watch Fr. Rojas and his experiment in action visit: https://youtu.be/6UkzxufqkHk 

Scripture Verse that Inspired the Hospitality Experiment: “Sir, if I may ask you this favor, please do not go on past your servant. Let some water be brought, that you may bathe your feet, and then rest yourselves under the tree. Now that you have come this close to your servant, let me bring you a little food, that you may refresh yourselves; and afterward you may go on your way” (Genesis 18: 3-5).


WELCOMING PRAYER

Jesus, you are the Bread of Life, the everlasting source of life, goodness and love. 

Instill in us the courage to share Your Good News. 

Form us as your disciples of hospitality who welcome our brothers and sisters

to the celebration of Mass with open arms. 

Help us to follow your example of accompaniment, 

especially with those who are different from us in appearance, attitudes, culture and language. Keep us humble servants, like the Blessed Virgin Mary, 

so that we too may proclaim that the Lord has done great things and holy is His name.

In your holy and blessed name, we pray.

Amen


Photo Caption: Father Carlos Rojas visits Downtown Dade City for an experiment on hospitality.