IN THE HARVEST SEASON OF 1991, with the direction of our Parish Pastoral Council, I asked the Saint Anne Community to embrace a stewardship lifestyle. Simply put, the stewardship lifestyle asks each of us to make a deep and personal commitment to the mission of Jesus Christ and to the building of his Kingdom among us. It is a commitment made to the Parish Community by each member to offer gifts of time, talent, skill, and financial support that involve all of us in the building of our community.
This lifestyle, which is so deeply rooted in the scriptures, really asks three gifts from each of us: the gift of prayer, the gift of time, talent or skill, and the gift of financial support.
Many of us grew up in a Catholic Church that was filled with priests and nuns. In fact, I like to speak of the church of 30 years ago as “The Church of the Priests.” It was common to have four, five, or six priests ministering in an ordinary parish. There were many more sisters, and most often they staffed the parish school at little or no cost to the parishioners. The ministries of the parish were supervised and performed by those religious women and men. While they most often gave their lives in a beautiful way to God’s work, the ordinary Catholic was not invited to participate directly.
The Vatican Council of the 1960’s spoke of the Church as the People of God. All Catholics were encouraged to live the call that comes to each of us through our Baptism: the call to minister Jesus to each other. The turbulent 60’s brought social change and increasing affluence. These factors, among others, led to a startling decrease in religious vocations. We did not have so many priests and nuns anymore, and lay women and men began to do the work once done for the Lord by the Religious. Many now make the work of the Church their chosen career, and for that work they deserve a just wage.
The modern idea of a stewardship lifestyle nothing more that a return to the direct injunction of Jesus, “Seek first the Kingdom of God.” It springs from the biblical understanding that all things, even our very lives, belong to the Lord. The wise and generous steward must first see that everything has been entrusted to us by our God. By sharing what we are and what we have, we respond to God’s trust in us by placing our trust, not blindly, but wisely in our Faith Community. The development of a stewardship lifestyle does not come overnight, nor is it accomplished except through prayer and reflection. It is an ideal that this community is striving to achieve.
What is it that the stewardship lifestyle asks of every member of the Saint Anne Community?
- A gift of prayer: a regular remembrance of our parish in our daily prayers, and regular and consistent sharing in the Lord’s Supper at weekend Mass.
- A gift of time, talent and skill: a willingness to offer something of ourselves in an ongoing ministry of the community or to make ourselves available when special needs arise or skills are required; a recognition that our parish and its members share a special bond through faith.
- A gift of financial support: traditionally stewardship has been associated with “tithing”, the practice of giving 5% of our income to our Church and 5% to personal charities. We ask that gifts to the Church be seriously considered and generously offered. It should not be some few dollars we will not miss but rather a responsible gift that involves some sacrifice on the part of the giver.
The beautiful buildings and facilities that were completed in the year 2000 are a tribute to faith, hard work, and much generosity. ? We need our new members, who share the blessing of these accomplishments, with us to join in our continuing effort to eliminate the burden of our debt. We encourage you to become, through your generosity, another of the “living stones” which build the Saint Anne Community.
Finally, as your pastor, I pledge to all of you responsible management of all the gifts, both service and financial. Each year a full accounting of the use of these gifts will be made to all.
What might this Catholic Community do for the Kingdom? If we truly and clearly hear the words of Christ, “Seek first the Kingdom of God,” we might just discover the meaning of joy.
May we more and more be the HOUSE OF GOD.
Fr. Bernie Pietrzak