Stewardship is recognizing that everything we have is a gift from God.
It’s living a life of gratitude — taking the time every day to recognize the gifts that God has given and to be grateful for them.
Dave Baranowski, director of stewardship education for the archdiocese, reminds people that stewardship is a way of life, “not just an accounting of how we use our gifts.
“And, of all the gifts God gave us, the one He wants the most is our heart. If we truly want to live a grateful and generous lifestyle, our heart, our desire, must be in it, otherwise none of what we are doing will bear fruit personally or within our parish community. ‘Find your delight in the Lord who will give you your heart’s desire’” (Psalm 37:4).
This sense of stewardship as a way of life is manifest in various ways by people throughout the archdiocese.
Made use of by God
Wes Karna, a mining engineer, moved around the country because of his career but said “everywhere I’ve gone the Catholic Church has been a big part of my life.”
He’s retired now and lives in Pacific where he volunteers at St. Bridget Parish with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. He began there in 2011, but first got involved about seven years earlier at his parish in Houston.
In Houston, Karna was interested in joining the Knights of Columbus but postponed that after hearing a talk on the Society of St. Vincent de Paul’s need for volunteers. He joined the Knights six months later and now is active in both. He’s past president of his parish conference of the Society and now is a district president.
He’s impressed with the dedication of his fellow volunteers at his parish and that all the funds that are donated through his parish go directly to help people in need. St. Bridget parishioners “have a great heart,” Karna said.
Sometimes, several years later, former clients send in a donation in appreciation for the help they’ve received. Just when it seems no funds are available to help someone or a solution to their problem doesn’t exist, a donation arrives or solution appears, Karna said. “It’s wonderful to see how God uses us. I love to be used by God.”
The Knights contribute to several charities and to projects at the parish, he said. They’ve also sponsored families in need of gifts and food at Christmas.
Reconnecting with God
Stewardship was modeled for Eric Lause from an early age, he said in explaining why he is involved in ministries at St. Francis Borgia Parish in Washington, where he has been a parishioner 20-plus years. “It’s just what you do, kind of like breathing,” he said.
It’s also enjoyable, Lause added. He looks forward to being present for adoration in the early morning hours every other week. “It gives me a break in the middle of the week to reconnect with God,” he said. He usually has short conversations with the other parishioners there who, he said, “are like an extended family.”
As a lector, he asks God to help “that my word be shared to how He wishes it be shared. I just do my best” in a role that follows in the footsteps of his father.
Lause, principal at St. Clair Junior High School in St. Clair, also serves on the tent committee, a group who set up and take down various tents used by the parish and rented as a fundraiser. It’s work, but also “great camaraderie and a lot of fun,” he said. “I feel that God has given me the ability to do these things, so I do what I’m capable of doing and have time to do.”
He was on the parish council previously, on the last parish school principal selection committee and has helped with parish festivals and events.
Appreciating the beauty of creation
Colorful sunpatiens brighten the campus of St. Norbert Parish in Florissant. Fish swim in a pond between the church and school buildings. A mostly brick courtyard outside the school with four bright blue picnic tables, flowers and green plants is inviting to students and visitors alike.
Every year for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, Barb Yeager planted flowering plants around a tree at her parents’ house. After her parents died, she noticed areas around her church that needed care. The pond was in bad shape, so in 2016 she asked Deacon Bill Twellman, pastoral associate at St. Norbert, about it and learned no one was maintaining it. A few months later, “we jumped in” to do the work, she said, adding that her husband, Karl, used his engineering background to help.
Their contribution shows that stewardship doesn’t always involve joining a committee or attending meetings — it can be more hands-on or a simple act.
The courtyard had drainage problems and needed updates. Even though she no longer has a child in the school, Barb Yeager agreed to Deacon Twellman’s request for her and her husband to give back by renovating the area. They were happy to help. “Primarily we wanted kids to have an appreciation of God’s beauty around them and the seasons of the year,” Barb Yeager said.
The Yeagers enjoy providing a nice setting for people who come to Mass, school or events at the parish. “If they see the freshness and beauty of God’s creation, hopefully they’ll be inspired the rest of the day with the idea that He’s always around,” Barb Yeager said.
She added that the work is in honor of her parents and a former St. Norbert pastor, Father Rich Buccheit, a native of Biehle, which is her mother’s hometown. An “army of people,” including several retirees who attend daily Mass, help with watering and caring for the new plantings at the parish, Yeager said.
Stewardship: Our Joyful Encounter with the Lord
Archbishop Robert J. Carlson, inspired by Pope Francis’ exhortation “The Joy of the Gospel,” wrote a pastoral letter called “Our Joyful Encounter with the Lord.”
This letter was the inspiration for the 2018 Stewardship theme “Share the Joy.” The pastoral letter points out that:
• We need to create room in our hearts and let Jesus do the rest.
• When we encounter Jesus, we can transform the world.
• Pope Francis said, “The joy of evangelizing always arises from grateful remembrance.”
• How we respond to others in their need for mercy, healing and reconciliation becomes the core of our discipleship.
• Saints challenge and encourage us; they give us example of how to live our lives.
• We constantly give witness to God in our deeds and words.