By Maryalvin Gonzales
Upon first meeting Carmen Rooker, you are immediately greeted by a smile, as is befitting this person in charge of the Hospitality Ministry. Even though the designated meeting place for this article’s interview with her had changed following evening prayer, she reacted with poise as she directed us to a new location, demonstrating the flexibility and knowledge which are such important assets in a minister of Hospitality.
Following some small talk, the interview proceeded about her journey into this important ministry. Carmen started by saying that she was originally from New Jersey, she was very shy, didn’t know many people, and wasn’t the type of person who joined anything. After moving to Phoenix, she attended St. Augustine Church. It was there that a member of the Hospitality Ministry encouraged her to join them, and she agreed. Being a member of this ministry helped to build her confidence and put her at ease as she began to recognize individuals on a regular basis. She enjoyed this ministry and noticed a change in herself. She enjoys serving and helping others and receiving their smiles and words of appreciation in return.
Carmen has been at St. Elizabeth Seton for more than 17 years, and during this time she has enjoyed serving in this ministry under the leadership of three different pastors. According to Carmen, the goal of this ministry doesn’t change; it is a service to always welcome others with a smile, and to show them that you care about them. As she says, “I really care about others and love what I do”.
Apart from the Hospitality ministry at church, Carmen is very busy with her family, especially caring for her husband Lloyd, who is ill. They have four children, six grandchildren, and ten great-grandchildren. Even though her family keeps her very busy, she is still willing to serve Sunday mornings at the 11:00 Mass, as she helps parishioners to their places. It is very gratifying for her to meet people at Mass and to hear them say that St. Elizabeth Seton is such a welcoming parish.