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Brenda Tillman distributed the Precious Blood during Mass at Most Holy Trinity Church on Sept. 15.
Brenda Tillman distributed the Precious Blood during Mass at Most Holy Trinity Church on Sept. 15.
Photo Credit: Lisa Johnston

Catholics gratefully, generously share their gifts

Three Catholics explain how stewardship guides their lives

“Stewardship: Grateful and Generous” is the theme of Stewardship Awareness Sunday, Sept. 22, a concept that continues throughout the year.

Stewardship is first and foremost a spiritual message. It’s the way that Catholics are called to live out their faith, recognizing everything they have is a gift from God and gratefully and generously sharing their gifts without expecting anything in return. Three Catholics in the archdiocese discuss how they live out their faith through prayer, participation and generosity.

Serving, giving back

Brenda Tillman recently was recognized among parishioners at Most Holy Trinity Parish in St. Louis for their ministries at the center of Church life. She serves as an extraordinary minister of the Holy Eucharist and in other roles as needed at the parish. She sometimes helps at a neighboring parish, Sts. Teresa and Bridget.

“I’m willing to put my hands in with whatever they need,” she said.

The reason it is important to go to church and give back, she said, “is because that’s what God wants us to do. He wants us to serve the people in the community. And He wants us to keep our faith in Him.”

Prayer, participation and generosity are important, Tillman said. “You definitely have to give back to the church and try to keep the church going. And you definitely have to try to get people to come. You pray together. And God listens to our prayers. When there are two or more gathered, God is present. It’s very important for us to stay involved, to stay prayed up.”

Her faith and her concern for serving others carries over to her job with the Head Start program at the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis in providing education to young mothers and their children and the mission of helping them improve their lives.

Pitching in

Though he works and attends school, Otis Holloway still finds time to pitch in at Our Lady of Holy Cross Parish in St. Louis.

He helps with the parish website, at the parish picnic and with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, for example.

“I’m in my 20s, and I’m younger than most people who are active at the parish — they’re mostly 60s and up. I help out a lot when things are heavy or it requires computer knowledge,” Holloway said.

Holloway has a bachelor’s degree in business from Southeast Missouri State University, and he works as a project manager for a plumbing company. He is attending a master’s degree program in mechanical engineering through Washington University and the University of Missouri-St. Louis. It leaves him little time to attend parish meetings, but he still goes when he can.

It’s important to help, he said, “because it takes more than just people going to church to feel like it’s a family. In order to feel as one, you have to be around each other and help out each other in times of need.”

Projects can be completed with one or two people sometimes, he said, “but when there’s a group doing it, the tasks are so much easier and it helps people become closer.”

The people at Our Lady of the Holy Cross pray for each other, he said. “It gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling inside. When things are down or you’re having a bad day, you can always call and talk with someone and they’ll pick you up. It’s good to be a part of that and help pick someone else up in their time of need also.”

Happy place

Cindi Yadamec is involved in her parish, St. Patrick in Wentzville, because it’s her happy place. “My parish is like my family, my home. It is an awesome place to be. It’s a place where you can take a breather, very peaceful,” she said.

About six years ago, Yadamec began attending the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) program there. “It was the happiest time of life, discovering Jesus and doing this journey with Jesus,” she said.

She came to the Church because her husband attended an ACTS retreat and said he wanted to begin going to church again and asked her to go with him. Eventually, she said, she desired the sacraments and decided she wanted to become Catholic. A few years later, her son and his wife joined the Church and they had their baby baptized.

Yadamec jumped at the opportunity to be part of the RCIA team. “I wanted to help people experience the same journey I did, to bring them into the Catholic faith,” Yadamec said.

It’s an honor, she said, a long journey but each year she learns something new. “I get to renew my journey with Jesus every year and go a little further down that path to find out where I’m supposed to be, what I’m supposed to be doing with my life.”

An accountant, she learned that the parish was seeking people to be on the finance committee. She welcomed the opportunity to become involved. “It’s rewarding to me that I can take my skills — I love doing accounting work — and help the parish by having those skills.”

The Church fills a void in people’s lives, Yadamec said. The best way to get others involved is to “simply ask them to attend an event with you,” she said. “Sometimes people feel lost just looking in the bulletin or maybe too shy to go on their own, so a personal invitation to a fellow parishioner or someone not even Catholic will start the fire inside them and then they want more.”

She gave the example of when she invited a friend to adoration. Now that woman is involved in Catholic Women for Christ.

“Everything you need is available at the church,” Yadamec said. “Whether it’s healing or happiness or someone to hang out and have a cup of coffee with. If you feel like you’re missing something, just go check out the church and see what’s there. I guarantee there’s something there, especially at our parish because we have such a variety of stuff.”

The people make it worthwhile, Yadamec said, explaining that “when I’m having a tough time or need something, they’re the ones I call. I think now, ‘How did I ever live without these people?’”

Serving, sharing

Cara Koen and her husband, Brian, have been parishioners at St. Rose Philippine Duchesne Parish since it formed in 2005. She grew up in a Catholic household and her parents modeled service to her. “It’s been ingrained in me that that’s what you do. You serve God by participating in your parish and community,” she said.

Among her many roles is serving on the stewardship committee. “You can say that you’re Catholic or you have a good faith. But, for me anyway, it doesn’t really come to life until you start serving and working with people and sharing with other people. I do that in my parish a lot, but it can be any kind of service you do in your life to give praise to God.”

Koen prays and listens to what God’s will. “He just continuously puts me in situations where he’s given me talents and other resources he wants me to share,” she said.

She doesn’t offer help, she said, unless she checks in with God. “I try to keep my priorities straight — family and God and relationships,” Koen said.

Building relationships with other people is rewarding, she said, noting that the parish ACTS retreat is especially good in connecting spiritually with others and building community.

>> Grateful and generous

Stewardship is:

• Recognizing that everything we have and are is a gift from God.

• Being grateful and generous with our gifts.

• Understanding that we are not owners of anything, but stewards of God’s gifts.

The main point of stewardship is:

• Helping each other strengthen our relationship with God.

• Helping each other get to heaven!

• Understanding that how we use our gifts is our gift back to God.

Living a stewardship lifestyle means:

• Placing our complete trust in God.

• Sharing all of our gifts, especially the one that means the most to us.

• Keeping God first in everything and not placing other “gods” before God.

• Living a more God-centered and less self-centered life.

• Expecting nothing in return and recognizing that no gift is too small to share.

Source: Archdiocesan Office of Stewardship

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