Letter from Kathleen: Hospitality at the Cathedral

Kathleen Sheehan Burgess – Director of Administrative Operations

The first time I really got a glimpse of Episcopalian hospitality was the day I started at St. Paul’s in 2015.  I was greeted by everyone, they had a plaque on my door with my name and title on it, and we had a lovely time doing the money count together with a group of dedicated volunteers.  Everyone was friendly and gracious. 

It wasn’t until Fat Tuesday that next year that I really understood that Episcopalians, especially St. Paul’s Episcopalians, love a good party!  I was part of the hospitality team producing the Zydeco reception in the Great Hall following the Zydeco service.  I’d never seen a service and celebration like it.  Then a few months later, I got to experience beauty of the Easter Vigil, and its reception, and then the glory of St. George’s Day with its tea sets, dragon bread, parade/procession, and deviled eggs for days.   All of it impressive, to say the least.

As the years have gone on, I’ve learned the ins and outs of Cathedral Hospitality and have even had a chance to add my own flare to things.  I’m proud of the level of service the Facilities & Hospitality Team have brought to the table.  We’ve got a rhythm to producing our events.  We’ve worked over the years to streamline operations, improve the assets we have like tables and chairs, improve organization, storage, and cleanliness.   

Hand in hand with this goes the diligent work on room rentals to outside organizations to increase our revenues and add to our operating budget.  We work closely with them on room design, event flow, working with their caterers or AV teams, and more.  We’re working equally hard to ensure our internal events are also well run and supported. 

As our campus has grown, our hospitality activities have grown as well.  We’re finding that staffing the internal events with volunteers to help has escalated from “nice to have” to “urgent need”.  Things were slower on campus with Covid and construction keeping half or all of the campus activities at bay.  Now that we’re back and the new building is open, we find ourselves in full swing.  The team needs help with serving and cleaning up, as well as those who might be interested in planning and preparing events.  We could use a team of volunteers that can help.

We have a need for party planners for a few events a year, such as: St. George’s Day, Homecoming, Mardi Gras/Zydeco Reception, Ordinations, and Holy Week.

We have a need for servers and help cleaning up after events large and small.  From coffee hour to Easter Vigil, there are lots of opportunities to pitch in. 

We’d love to have a group of folks we can call on when the need arises, floaters, if you will.  We have an informal group, the “Petal Pals”, who I call on when we have a need to make several flower arrangements for various events. 

Hospitality is truly evangelism.  It’s the cornerstone of reaching people where they are in a pleasant and food filled environment.  It’s often the first way that people interact with the Cathedral campus if they are coming to attend an event.  Or coffee hour may be the first time they take the time to chat with someone if they are new.  Or folks reconnecting at Homecoming, sharing a “family style” meal with fellow parishioners.   

I’d like to open the ability to serve others to those in the congregation.   If you’d like to offer your time and talents to the Hospitality Committee we are now forming, please email Susan Jester (jesters@stpaulcathedral.org) and let her know what your interests are: Party Planner, Server, Clean Up, Floater or Petal Pal, and we’ll start calling on you!

Thank you so much for your time and have a blessed day.

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4 thoughts on “Letter from Kathleen: Hospitality at the Cathedral”

  1. Excellent letter, Kathleen!
    The other side of this is that we are extremely lucky to have you. We are very grateful for all that you have done for us and all the great things that you have brought to our SPC community!


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