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Photo Credit: Illustration by Abigail Witte

Being grateful, generous with our gifts from God takes many forms

Stewardship is recognizing that everything we have is a gift from God and living a life of intentional gratitude and generosity. Our Christian faith calls us to show our gratitude through regular prayer, participation in parish life and generosity to support the Church. Parish communities that embrace stewardship must be accountable for the way in which the parish uses the gifts entrusted to it.

Good Christian stewardship can feel counter-cultural since society often encourages a self-centered pursuit for more. As disciples, we strive to put God first in all things and to follow where Our Lord might lead. God will always provide for us.

Here are five examples of local Catholics living intentionally as Christian stewards:

Margaret Momphard
Photo Credits: Lisa Johnston
“I have a deeper appreciation for the things I have.”

— Margaret Momphard

There was no sleeping in for Margaret Momphard on a recent Saturday morning.

The Sacred Heart in Troy parishioner volunteered to take registrations at 7 a.m. at the Knights of Columbus annual golf tournament benefitting the parish school. She left as soon as the tournament began to go to another volunteer effort at the food pantry operated by the parish Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

Her involvement in her parish as a lector, extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, school volunteer, stewardship committee member and more is simply a thank you.

Her parents set an example for her, she said, and “it’s a way to give thanks to God for the many blessings I have. ”

Chelsi Creech
Photo Credits: Lisa Johnston
“I like to give back to the parish as a way of responding to the great love that God has given me.”

— Chelsi Creech

Chelsi Creech is grateful to have found Epiphany Parish in St. Louis as a spiritual home. While she initially attended Epiphany because of the convenient evening Mass time on Tuesdays, she quickly fell in love with the reverent liturgy, most especially the quiet, candle-lit Masses through Advent. Sitting in the cool church after a long day’s work at the hospital helped her stay firmly grounded in the faith that makes her work possible.

The parish is welcoming and shows “faithful stewardship of the faith handed on by the Apostles,” Creech said. “The Lord has been very generous to me and I take joy in being able to use the gifts He has made me a steward of to help build His Kingdom.”

Creech saw this generosity modeled by her parents. The local parish, she said, “is how Jesus makes His body present in my life.”

Carmen Charleston
Photo Credits: Lisa Johnston
“God has blessed us with gifts to do the work of the Lord.”

— Carmen Charleston

Carmen Charleston tries to be involved in every aspect of St. Augustine Parish in St. Louis where there is a need, including evangelization, liturgy, service, stewardship and education. “This is the Body of Christ. We are not separate entities. It takes the whole Body working together to keep it functioning,” she said.

Charleston reads Scripture at Mass, leads Rosary services, helps with the Angel Tree program that reaches out to children whose parents are incarcerated, and more. She enjoys educating parents and children in their faith and how to implement it in their lives.

There are so many ways to be stewards, she said, financially and also by providing fellowship, praying, and evangelizing, including “talking joyfully and knowledgeable about our faith,” Charleston said.

Denny Heinze
Photo Credits: Lisa Johnston
“We are all called to give of ourselves generously.”

— Dennis Heinze

As chair of the stewardship committee at St. Gabriel Parish, Dennis Heinze has overseen St. Gabriel’s annual Day of Service for nearly the last decade. It involves yard work and landscaping, gutter cleaning, painting, minor home repairs and carpentry, cleaning and more for people nearby who either can’t do the work themselves or afford to have it done.

“We have some incredibly generous parishioners who give of their time and talents every year to brighten the lives of those in our community and spread some hope,” Heinze said. Sometimes the volunteers come back to provide ongoing help.

He defined stewardship as “knowing that everything we have is a gift and to return those gifts to those around us. We are the hands and feet of Christ here on earth. Stewardship isn’t a program that you sign up for or a campaign, but it’s who we are as Christians.”

Esperanza Rodriguez
Photo Credits: Lisa Johnston
“Serving God makes me happy and at peace.”

— Esperanza Rodriguez

Esperanza Rodriguez is doing her best to help people know God. “I want people to get joy from their faith. I want them to know God and also to live according to the way God wants people to live. We need to teach people that,” she said.

Rodriguez has taught in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults program for four years at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Ferguson. “I love to see adults take time to hear about God,” Rodriguez said. “They are amazed about everything they learn about the Church, our faith and how rich it is. I like seeing how they are growing, and at the end when they take the sacraments there’s so much joy, so much excitement.”

Previously Rodriguez and her husband helped with the confirmation class. To teach them about God was easy, she said, because they’re hungry to know about Him. “When they finally experience contact with God, not just read about Him, it changes them.”

Stewardship is a lifestyle based on gratitude and generosity; it is intentional and rooted in love, not random with no strings attached. The whole point is strengthening our relationship with God and each other.Here are some ideas to get you started:

>> Prayer

• Think you don’t have time for daily prayer? Say a quick prayer for people that annoy you. You’ll be praying more than you imagined and your attitude toward them will change.

Photo Credits: Illustration by Abigail Witte
• Struggling to make time to read the Bible? Start with daily Scripture readings. Remember, Scripture is one of the ways God talks to us. The St. Louis Review lists the daily readings with the Sunday Scripture reflection, and the readings can be found at www.bible.usccb.org.

• Pray three Hail Marys every day and watch that habit turn to a daily devotion to the Holy Rosary.

• Feel like everything is falling into place and you have now no major issues? Attend Mass one more one day each week and receive the Holy Eucharist. Thank God for all He has given you. Remember, the word “Eucharist” means “thanksgiving.”

• Have you been hurt by what someone said? Go to Confession — receive God’s mercy and forgiveness. Then, go and forgive the person that hurt you. We can’t give what we don’t have.

• Are you easily angered? Make a list of the top five things you are grateful to God for. When you feel your temper rising, offer the gratitude list as a prayer to God. It is impossible to be angry and joyful at the same time.

>> Participation

• Are you lonely, bored or unsatisfied? Give away what you want to receive. If you want love, mercy, forgiveness, fellowship — give it away and it will come back to you many times over.

• Are you overbooked, too busy, feel out of control? Then stop and rest. Even God took a day of rest. Has “being busy” become a “god” in your life that keeps you from things that are really important?

• When someone offers to help you with something, gladly accept it. You may not need the help, but it may help the other person. You may be the answer to their prayer.

• Can’t figure out what you would like to get involved with at your parish? Instead, ask God what He would like you to do. If we want God’s help, we have to invite Him into our life.

• Do you enjoy working in parish ministry or performing other charitable works? If so, don’t keep it to yourself. Share your joyful stories with others and invite them to join you. Your story may open the door for someone to meet Jesus.

Photo Credits: Illustration by Abigail Witte
• Do you spend a lot of time on social media, livestreaming or cable TV? Then do a fast from media. Think “garbage in, garbage out.” Use the extra time doing charitable works in your parish or your community.

>> Generosity

• Do you think “I work hard, I earn my money on my own, God had nothing to do with it?” If so, remember who created you. Who gave you the talent and skill needed to get a job to provide for your family? God did. If you think about it, all of “our” money is His.

• God and money run neck and neck as the top priority for many people. Where does God fall on your list? If not number one, you need to put the other “gods” behind God. The first commandment is the first commandment for a reason.

• Have you been employed for years, received an annual raise, given a promotion or seen your family income increase over the years? Then why do you still contribute the same amount in the Sunday offertory? Our giving should be proportional — when given more, we are called to give more.

• Don’t have enough money to give to your parish or other charity? Make a budget. You’ll be surprised how much you spend eating out all the time. Most of us have more than we need and have plenty to share.

• Do you leave a bigger tip when going out to eat on Saturday night than what you put in the offertory basket on Sunday morning? We are called to give from our “first fruits” — our first and best, not our “leftovers.” Try putting charitable giving at the top of your expenses on your household budget.

• Do you have a good job, make good money, have all the toys you need but still feel empty? Give more money away. Archbishop Fulton Sheen said you measure your generosity by what you have left, not by what you give.

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