STEWARDSHIP: the giving of Time, Talent and Treasures
St. Richard Parish thrives as a vital community because of the Grace of God, and because of your donations of Time, Talent and Financial Support. We want to take a few minutes today and reflect upon the multitude of blessing in each of our lives, and how we give thanks for them. Everything in our lives is a gift from God. When I reflect on my blessings, the greatest of these are my own life, my family, my friends and my faith.
Stewardship is based on spiritual principles from the Old Testament and the teachings and life of Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Stewards are managers, or caretakers of all that is entrusted to them. Good stewards give back to God in thanksgiving for the many blessings present in their lives. They recognize Jesus as the model steward, the One who listened to God’s call completely.
When offerings are taken, children regularly contribute their pennies. Because of their youth, we never assess the size of their gifts. We rather celebrate their participation in so important an element of worship. But, how would we respond were an adult to do the same thing-to offer two small coins, for example? How might we react then? Unlike the Lord, we are unable to know the true attitude of anyone's heart, any more than we can accurately appraise the balance in someone else's checkbook. Nonetheless, large public gifts tend to capture our attention, even as meager offerings cause us to avert our gaze.
It is little wonder, then, that the brief story closing the twelfth chapter of St. Mark's gospel is so often studied. Jesus and his disciples watched a fairly public display of financial stewardship when they "sat down opposite the treasury." Many rich people put in large sums," no doubt drawing attention to their generosity, whether intentional or not. A poor widow then offered a very modest gift. She "put in two small coins worth a few cents." Who contributed more? She did, said the Lord.
“‘This poor widow put in more than all the other contributors. In her poverty, she contributed all she had,' “a notable lesson for the disciples and a wonderful one for us. The amount of any gift is of secondary importance. But, as a picture of the love of One who gave his all for us, there is no substitute for sacrifice.
Please take a moment and reflect upon the three areas of stewardship and how you live them out in our Parish:
•Time: How much time do you set aside each week in prayer, and involvement in volunteer activities; in our parish and in our community?
•Talent: How are you using your talents for the betterment of our parish and the greater community?
•Treasure: How do you financially support our parish and other charities?
We are granted gifts, and talents to be used for the Glory of God and for the benefit of the common good. We must each answer our own personal call to live as Jesus’ disciples, following His model to be of loving service to others. It is what we are supposed to do as Catholics. As you are all aware, there are many benefits from being part of the St. Richard’s parish Community.
At St. Richard’s Parish we have over 25 different ministries trying to do the work God sets before us. We have all of the sacramental and pastoral programs provided through baptisms, weddings, funerals, and ministering to the sick and suffering. We support a very large religious education program to over 1000 children, plus a parish school of 480 children from pre-school through eighth grade. Each year we bring over 140 children to first communion and 120 teens to confirmation, and value not only their presence in our church activities, but their volunteer activities within our parish community as well through the Young Neighbors in Action Program. This year, the RCIA program has the largest number of people coming to the faith in nine years.
We have begun a new Religious education program for special needs. The cub scouts, adult education, and other programs serving the greater community use our Parish hall for free. We have a strong outreach program, and offer many opportunities to parishioners to get active and give back.
We each have been blessed with the gift of life – the first of many blessings shared by our loving God. We are asked to use our indeterminate amount of time on this Earth to bear witness to God’s love and presence in our world, by sharing of ourselves. For many of us, time is our most precious commodity. The demands of work, school, family and community can be overwhelming. Think about how we use our daily gift of 24 hours. How well do we use what we have been given? Does the way we use our gift of time reflect on what is most important to us?
Our parish is continuing to grow and expand, and to do so means we need your continued help to support the parish both through your activities, but also with your financial support.
Many of you may not be aware of the Offertory Awareness program, the financial support program here at St. Richard. For those of you already on the program, we ask whether you can increase your financial support to the church. For those of you not on the program, we ask you to consider joining.
The parish needs to have a sound financial planning tool so we can plan for the future, and that is what the Offertory Awareness Program provides. As you can imagine, the expenses for running a parish of this size are great. By having some idea of the money we will receive each month, we can better plan those expenses; just as you do for your family. Imagine how difficult it would be to run your household with no idea how much money you would make each week, or each year!
The Offertory Awareness program is a tool for you to help budget your donation to the works of the parish annually. You can donate monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually. You simply make a choice on the commitment card we give you, and you then receive a statement to fulfill and send back to the parish. This is not a one-time event, but rather will be an annual reflection of parish commitment that we will go through each fall.
For parishioners that are already part of the Offertory Awareness program, (that is, receiving monthly, quarterly, semi annual or annual statements), we would like to ask you to review your donation to St. Richard’s. The last time the parish had a talk like this was in 2006, and in many cases the donations have remained constant since then. In doing so, we hope that you will consider increasing your donation by 10 or even 20 percent. If you give forty dollars a month, could you give forty-five or fifty? If you give twenty dollars a week, could you give twenty-five?
For parishioners not on the Offertory Awareness Program, we have a goal of increasing the number of families participating by 200. There is a broad range in participation levels, but to provide new families with a guideline, our average annual donation is approximately $650. Note that if you participate in the Offertory Awareness Program, there is no expectation that you would continue to make weekly contributions in the baskets.
Please take a moment and think about all that St. Richards’s and the Catholic Church mean to you. We all share the responsibility to ensure that this vibrant church community continues to grow in the future, through our contribution of Time, Talent and Treasure.
We need your help to keep our parish on track, to not fall behind in our work of the Lord, and to do a good job with what God has given us. We need to be good stewards.
The Finance Committee and the Parish Council