Hospitality director cooks up encouragement, satisfying treats

Hospitality director Lucia Ferrara makes fresh bruschetta for an upcoming Precious Blood Renewal Center online newsletter. Ferrara, raised by an Italian mother and Croatian father, enjoys cooking and shares simple recipes along with Biblical verses.

LIBERTY — At the Precious Blood Renewal Center, 2120 St. Gaspar Way, there are two working kitchens that find use thanks to Lucia Ferrara, the director of hospitality. She has been with the center for eight years. Prior to the center, Ferrara worked as a nurse, a parent-educator and owned her own café and catering company.

Her responsibilities at the center are many.

“I call it wearing many hats,” she said. “I handle scheduling all the retreats. I help with the programs here. I work with outside groups that are seeking space to hold a meeting or workshop. I help with the set ups for those. Then there’s the larger calendar which I maintain. Plus, I help feed staff at least twice a week. ... .”

However, COVID-19 has slowed retreats and other outings at the center. To share her message, Ferrara is now part of the newsletter sent out to subscribers.

“We had always talked about cooking segments, but they never came to fruition,” she said. “Now with Dennis Coday, the director of engagement, we can put on the programs virtually with our technology. I am able to invite people into our kitchen.”

What would surprise people most to learn about your job?

“I have the freedom of knowing that I can come to work, be at peace and share my spirituality,” Ferrera said. “During the Tuesday staff meetings, we pray and open our Bibles. I am fortunate to have such a job.”

What do you like best about your position or this field in particular?

“I believe I can make people feel loved, welcomed and at home at the center,” she explained. “Maybe prior they didn’t feel that way and needed to visit the center for a retreat or a walk. It makes me feel good to offer that peace and put a smile on someone’s face.”

What’s the most common question you get asked about what you do?

“That’s simple, ‘Will you give me that recipe?’” she said.

Would 10-year-old you be surprised that you are in this field or position?

“No, because I used to be in the kitchen with my mom and she would let me help her,” Ferrara said. “Sometimes she would even hand me the extras such as dough and I would put on my own cooking session.”

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

“I’m a people pleaser,” she said. “I want to make everyone happy, but the challenge comes when I have two or three groups that want the exact same time. When groups want to use some space, I may have to finagle some. It’s a balancing act to keep the programs and retreats going.”

What advice would you give someone who is starting a job similar to yours?

“Be authentic,” Ferrara said. “Go in with an open mind, open heart and open arms. You have to have the ability to encourage. Embrace your uniqueness and that of others. You never know who will walk through the door.”

Southeast Editor Kellie Houx can be reached at kellie.houx@mycouriertribune.com or 389-6630.

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