Dubuque: Living Radical Hospitality Fall Gathering

Adapted from an article written by Dubuque Presentation Associate Janet Leonard

On September 28, a gathering of inspiration and conversation was held at Mount Loretto for associates and sisters. Dr. Janine Idziak, a Dubuque Presentation associate, was the first presenter. Her first session reflected on hospitality as “welcoming the stranger,” those in the vulnerable groups of society. She offered a contemporary definition of stranger as “the most vulnerable strangers are disconnected from relationships with family, church, economic and civic community.”

After time for small group discussion, Janine looked at the ways hospitality is presented in Scripture as a trait to be cultivated. Several Scripture passages were offered as examples, but one that especially resonated with those gathered was Luke 10:38-42, the story of Mary and Martha. Martha complained about doing all the work of showing hospitality to Jesus while Mary only sat and listened to him. Jesus tells Martha that Mary “has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.” Janine pointed out that Mary was also showing hospitality to Jesus by devoting her full attention to him, being “with him fully.” Living out radical hospitality requires more than just “doing” things for the others. Radical hospitality challenges us to be “with” others in relationship. Dubuque Presentation associate, Helen Thielen, shared a story about listening to a lady while waiting to be seated at a restaurant. The woman talked about her daughter and son-in-law being killed in a car accident one Easter Sunday. Helen was fully present to this woman; and the woman thanked her for listening. Helen reflects, “Until today I didn’t realize what that meant to her.”

Dubuque Presentation Associate Bridget Lahart and Sister Lou Cota enjoy catching up with one another.

Dr. Idziak’s final presentation focused on the challenges in practicing hospitality in today’s culture of fear. Welcoming the stranger can be difficult especially when the stranger thinks differently politically, has hygiene issues, has different lifestyle choices from our own or has a criminal history. Radical hospitality calls us to move beyond these “heart triggers.”

Sister Carla Popes ended the day by giving witness to how she has tried to live radical hospitality in her daily life. She amused and inspired all with stories of her youth and the example her parents were to her when it came to offering hospitality to others. Sister Carla spoke of her current work as a volunteer in Hispanic ministry in her new home in Decorah, Iowa. She challenged all gathered to commit to simple acts of hospitality in the days and weeks ahead.

Rachel Evans, a Presentation associate from Forest City, comments, “It was great to see everyone who I had not seen in a long time. It was also interesting to hear the various ways of being aware and pushing through our personal biases to more fully live out radical hospitality …”

Both the topic and the social aspect of the day were reflected on by Associate Maureen Utter from Ventura, Iowa, “While I appreciated the topic ‘Living Radical Hospitality,’ I appreciate even more any opportunity to gather with sisters and other associates. It’s such a blessing to be in this company, and I always take something away from these encounters – hopefully helping me to be my better self, living radical hospitality.”

Caption: Dubuque Presentation Associate Bridget Lahart and Sister Lou Cota enjoy catching up with one another.