This message was delivered at all Masses the weekend of October 1/2, 2016:
WOW! Stewardship Renewal! I can just feel the anticipation! You’ve all been waiting for this!
I had the privilege of making a similar presentation right here at St Ed’s 25 years ago. At that time I had just learned some really important ideas about stewardship from some much wiser fellow parishioners. It changed my entire outlook, changes that have been with me ever since. I am excited to have the chance to share again what I learned back then, and what I have learned in subsequent years.
A few words of our Stewardship Prayer are a good place to begin:
Lord God, You alone are the source of every good gift.
Everything we are and everything we have belongs to You and is Your gift.
These words are the starting point for true Christian Stewardship.
We acknowledge that none of what we are, none of what we have, is of our own doing. Everything has been given to us by God. And we are called by God to be stewards of what we have been given.
What is a Steward? Simply, a steward is a person who takes care of what belongs to another.
We are called to make “Stewardship our Way of Life”. What does this mean, “Stewardship as a Way of Life”? It is always being mindful that what we have has been given into our care to be used to take care of God’s creation. This includes taking care of ourselves, our families and our community in a way that honors God.
Taking care of our community means giving back some of what has been given into our care as an act of faith and an act of thanksgiving. For us Catholics, this means specifically that we give a part of what we have to the Church as our way of making a return onto the Lord from what has been given to us.
When we think about the our Stewardship of Treasure, about what we should give out of our material resources—yes, our money—when we make our decision about giving, we are making that decision based on our need to give. Our need to give. We need to make a return onto the Lord. We do this to live our stewardship way of life. It is a piece of our spiritual journey, of living our faith.
Yes, the parish needs money to operate. Absolutely true. But this need of the parish is a secondary component of our giving decision. We look to our parish leadership, our pastor, the parish staff and all of the people in volunteer ministries to be good stewards of what we give to them, to use it wisely and well. But how they use it, what they need it for, these things are not the drivers of our decision to give. We give because our faith requires us to make a response to God’s generosity.
Speaking of generosity, the parish has been blessed again this year by the exceptional generosity of one parish household that made a contribution of $100,000 in September. And, amazingly, another member household has told our parish office that they will be making a similar gift soon. For our Stewardship Renewal Month the rest of the parish is challenged to cumulatively increase intended giving for the next 12 months, such that the total increase will be more than $200,000, in keeping with the spirit of our exceptional givers.
A letter marked “Stewardship Renewal” has been mailed to all parish households. If you have not already received it, expect it early in the week. We will have extra copies at our stewardship information table in the narthex after Mass. Please pick one up if you are not receiving parish mailings.
In the letter we offer what we call the “Four P’s” as guidance for making our giving decision—we are challenged to be:
* Planned Givers
* Priority Givers
* Percentage Givers
* Progressive Givers
Planned, Priority, Percentage, Progressive.
Planning means to be intentional about giving, about having it in our household budget. Priority means that giving to the Church is the first item in our budget. We give from our first fruits, and not from what might be left over. Percentage means to calculate our giving as a percentage of income, so that you know how you are doing compared to the benchmark of tithing. Tithing. Giving 10% of income—this is a real stretch for many people. I understand this. But calculating the percentage you are giving now makes it easier to be a progressive giver, increasing giving over time, maybe even over many years, working towards that 10% mark. As the message on the front of the parish offering envelope advises, “Tithing means donating 10% of your income: 5% directly to parish and 5% to the poor and other charities.”
Stewardship Renewal Month is also the opportunity to renew the sharing of our time and talent. The intention card included with the mailing asks us to state our intention to continue with our current volunteer ministry, or to explore new work in the Church. Everyone is asked to do something in addition to Mass attendance.
Please, carefully and prayerfully consider your own stewardship, and then complete the intention card for your household and be ready to return it at Mass on the weekend of October 22nd and 23rd, when we will have a Stewardship Renewal Intention Ceremony in which all will be invited to bring their cards forward. If this doesn’t work for you, please drop your completed intention card into the collection basket or return it to the parish office before the end of this month.
Our goal is to receive an intention card from every member household of the parish. Fill one out even if you are making no changes. The committee will actively work in follow up to be sure that all respond.
Stewardship Committee Chairperson