Hospitality: Creating a Space for Encounter

It’s hard to believe, but the first quarter of the academic year here at Cathedral High School in Indianapolis is already drawing to a close. This is my first year teaching Algebra I and Geometry at Cathedral after having taught 5th grade for the past two years at St. Adalbert Catholic School in South Bend, Indiana. My first quarter of high school education has been full of extraordinary highlights, including my own profession of final vows, the beginning of the high school football season at Lucas Oil Stadium, homecoming festivities and competitions, and the celebration of Cathedral’s 105th birthday. However, the seemingly ordinary, day-to-day joys and challenges of teaching have been what stands out to me over the past two months. I have been received by the Cathedral community with open arms and have been supported every step of the way. The welcome of the community has led me to reflect on the beauty and spirituality of hospitality through which the ordinary becomes extraordinary.

From day one at Cathedral, I have felt at home. This high school community founded in 1918 by Holy Cross brothers was eager to welcome Fr. Geoff and me as we began our time in Indy. I see my mission in Catholic education as someone who encourages and witnesses to my students as they pursue the greatness for which God has created them. I also strive to help my students recognize the beauty of the created world through mathematics. To do this, I work to provide a hospitable environment for my students to feel welcomed, known, and valued, and I found that the entire Cathedral community had already been working to create that same space of welcome for me. 

The hospitality that the Cathedral community has shown me in my first couple of months has reminded me of the hospitality of one of the spiritual greats in the Christian tradition. It just so happens that he is also the patron of Holy Cross brothers, St. Joseph. St. Joseph is known for his many virtues, including justice, purity, and humility. Yet we often do not think of his hospitable heart. St. Joseph was the guardian of the Holy Family. He was the caretaker of Mary’s purity and responsible for the upbringing of God’s only begotten Son. Such a high call and blessing certainly would have come with a great deal of responsibility. 

At Jesus’s birth in Bethlehem, I couldn’t imagine a better glimpse of the intimate love of the Trinity here on Earth. St. Joseph was literally partaking in Heaven come down to dwell with us. And yet, did St. Joseph keep that experience to himself? No, St. Joseph welcomed strangers into the blessed family life that he was charged to protect. It was only through the hospitable heart of St. Joseph that the shepherds and Magi were brought to the manger to be the first witnesses of the Incarnation. St. Joseph was the first doorkeeper for Christ. In most artistic depictions, St. Joseph is either holding the Christ child or pointing the way to him. Aren’t we all called to do the same? Aren’t we called to open doors for others that will lead them to an encounter with Jesus? This sort of hospitality is what I have received from the Cathedral community, and this too is what I strive to offer to all my students to whom I minister under the patronage of St. Joseph. As the Scriptures say, “Go to Joseph.” He in turn will open up the door for you to Jesus Christ.

Published on October 9, 2023

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