Every Sunday during the school year, Assumption Church (the church I regularly attend) runs a “Café” in Assumption University for students following the 7:30pm Mass. It’s a great place to meet people and see friends over food (FREE food).
Around the beginning and end of the semester, there’s usually a bit of confusion over when we officially start or stop running this café. As we moved into exams at the end of last semester, there was one evening in particular when it had been decided that the café would not be set up since most students would likely be unable to attend, given exams. As it turned out, there was a large group of students at Mass who had no idea of these plans. Fortunately, we had access to the facilities and were all able to still spend a few hours together.
It was a great testament to how community works. We didn’t need everything prepared in advance to have a few laughs. We just needed a few warm faces and a place to hang around. You can have the greatest facilities and expansive resources, but in the end, it’s about the people. If people don’t feel welcome or if they’re treated like outsiders, they won’t stay around. The setting is an integral part, of course, but it isn’t the only factor. Being with those whose company you enjoy and being welcomed by (and welcoming to) those you don’t know plays a very important role.
Maybe if we focused on this a bit more, whether in our daily lives or through whatever larger influences we have, we could foster a greater sense of community.