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More than once in my travels, I’ve heard an interesting adage concerning hospitality in a business or other endeavor. It explains that upon crossing the threshold of such a place, the attitude of the first person that one meets conveys an enduring impression of the whole enterprise and what occurs there.   Often, I recall this statement in reference to the reception area of our Sisters of St. Joseph London residence.  Countless times a day, the large, glass front doors slide open to admit a variety of people who enter our home for various reasons. 

If you happen to arrive at our residence during the week, you’ll be greeted by a smile and cheery, “Hello.  How may I help you?” from Natalie, our main receptionist and Sister Paulette who fills in for Natalie during breaks and at lunch time.

Although visitors describe our home as a haven of tranquility, the action at the front desk is often brisk with the comings and goings of Sisters and visitors.  Natalie and Sr. Paulette are up to their task taking incoming and outgoing calls, routing and rerouting people arriving for meetings, staff members arriving and leaving, taxis and Voyageur transportation waiting and our dependable driver taking Sisters to appointments and a host of other duties.

Sometimes Natalie’s and Sr. Paulette’s shining interpersonal skills are stretched to the limit when sizable gatherings occur in our spacious front foyer next to the reception area. For example, the Intergenerational Choir of around 70 singers gathers in the foyer to socialize before and after weekly sessions in the acoustically resonant chapel.  Often, Sisters and guests at festive occasions make the wide-open foyer ring with the laughter and joy of happy meetings. On Sundays, neighbours join us for liturgy of Eucharist. Our congregation associates attend special celebrations and meetings; the list continues.  All these events begin in the well-used foyer under the far-seeing eyes of our trusty receptionists.

Through thick and thin, Natalie and Sr. Paulette display good humour and hospitality while exemplifying grace under pressure.   Natalie’s many years of business administration and Sr. Paulette’s four decades as a school principal followed by twenty years as a child and family counsellor have been perfect backgrounds for their task of extending peace, kindness and information from their perch in the little reception area.

Many of us have had the experience of entering an office area where the receptionist fails to nod and greet us. The work at hand seems to be the priority and I am not. However, a busy person on the phone who establishes eye contact, smiles and nods to acknowledge our presence can lift our spirits and relax our bodies as we wait patiently for assistance.  In today’s often hard-nosed world, let’s not forget that simple gestures of kindness and positive regard for others can increase faith and help to make the world a more pleasant place to live.

Let’s make all our encounters times of gracious welcome and friendly hospitality.

 - Sister Jean Moylan, csj

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Reader Comments (3)

Natalie is a treasure and Sr. Paulette has a good sense of humour!

September 9, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMary

Receptionists on duty at 485:

Your warm, welcoming ways are very evident to all. Thank you for your efficiency and congratulations for representing us in receiving people hospitably, inclusively with open hands, heart and Spirit.

September 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDorothy Ann Howley

Thanks you two and others on the weekends who are the "face" of the community to the public and to us!
Kathleen Lichti

September 18, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKathleen (Lichti)

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