From Fr. Matt, here is a little more background, context, affirmation and counsel about what stewardship is ... great info as we prepare to enter this new season here at IC.
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Fr. Matt tells us a bit about what to expect as we enter into the diocesan Stewardship model.
We are called to give of our person, not just our possessions. See the videos below of our own parishioners sharing examples of opportunities to serve! For more information about specific ministries or organizations, consult the IC Parish Guidebook.
Christian Education Commission
Social Concerns Commission
What our own IC parishioners have to say about Stewardship
As I look back on my life and all the ways God has blessed me, it never ceases to amaze me how merciful and loving God is. I can’t help but want to give something to God in return. (But what do you give to the creator of everything, the author of life???)
About that time I came across a description of God as the lover of men’s souls. I thought I could share my faith with people who do not know God or for them to come back to God. Then I heard about St. Paul’s Street Evangelization. So I opened a chapter. We do an outing every 2 weeks by the Save A Lot store. Some people we meet are already Christian, or are not Christian and the lifestyle they live causes them a lot of suffering. We invite them to learn about the Catholic faith, to see what a life the Catholic Church is all about. Being part of that process is what stewardship is for me. It is my way of “Bearing Fruit in Christ.”
When I think of stewardship, I think of great responsibility. As Christians, we all are called-we all are responsible-to be stewards of what Christ started. We’re the caretakers of His mission.
Twenty-four years ago, a religious sister whom I didn’t know approached me about possibly being involved in prison ministry. When I said I would try it, little did I know that it would be my contribution to stewardship. Over the years, the ministry has changed the way I think of people who are incarcerated. Many of them are broken, just as we all are in some way. They need to know someone cares-that God cares. And we are His stewards. For some of the people we encounter, it is too late for us to help. But it is never too late for God.
We are seed planters, and whether we see the results of those seeds or not is not the goal. The goal is to plant them. And that planting is not a one-way street. Proverbs 11:25 says “Whoever confers benefits will be amply enriched, and whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” I believe stewardship brings blessings and waters of grace to the one who gives of himself.
Volunteering with many others in the parish to help prepare and serve funeral luncheons has been a very rewarding way for me to share my Fruit in the Spirit. We all share the importance of helping our fellow parishioners. Witnessing our church family providing delicious dishes to serve at the luncheons is so heartwarming. The families are very appreciative of the wonderful meal and a time to relax and visit with family and friends.
It saddens us that we cannot provide these luncheons due to social distancing happening now because of COVID. Hopefully soon we can provide this wonderful ministry.
When I was a child, my parents taught me the lesson of giving back. They didn’t call it that; I’m not sure they called it anything at all. But they made it clear that working at the parish picnic, singing in the choir, reading at Mass, and putting part of my allowance in the collection basket were good things.
The message was to share what I had; to give back a portion of what was given to me. I didn’t realize it at the time, but they were planting seeds; seeds they hoped would bear fruit as responsibility and commitment and generosity.
Sometimes the stresses of everyday life get in the way of remembering that all we have comes from God. Sometimes our own hard work blinds us to the realization that our gifts are not solely of our own making, but also most certainly gifts from God.
I like the definition of stewardship that says it is managing God’s gifts in a way that honors God. Plant the seeds of God’s gifts, and watch them bear fruit in Christ. It is good to be blessed. It is better to know it and use the blessings to help others.
Since Brian and I joined the Catholic faith in 2011 we have both done our very best to be good stewards of the faith and to bear Fruit in Christ. We have been sponsors for RCIA candidates; participated in Christ Renews his Parish, enjoyed an hour a week in adoration, and have served as ministers during Mass. All of these have held a special place in our hearts and household; however, our most treasured stewardship is serving at Mass as Sacristan/ Eucharistic Minister and Hospitality Ministers. We feel more connected to our faith, our parish, and our fellow parishioners while serving during Mass. We not only feel closer to the Spirit but we also feel like we are serving our home and our family. It is a level of connectivity and spirituality that we would not have, had we chose not to serve and participate in our faith community. We are truly thankful to be a part of the Immaculate Conception Church and School.
As a child, I had a simplistic view of what a “good Christian life” entailed, which could be boiled down to “obeying the Ten Commandments”. This view was slow to evolve into my early adult years. I came to realize that although obeying the Ten Commandments was indeed important, I was lacking in my emotional connection with my journey of faith. “Love your neighbor as yourself” as well as other teachings of Jesus helped me to understand more what was needed to develop a fuller commitment to Christian life.
My marriage to Kathy and having four children helped me to realize my blessings and the need to “pass it on” to others, including our church, diocese and Catholic Charities. This included time and talent as well as treasure.
Stewardship has been an important part of Kathy’s and my life for many years now. We feel it is not only our duty, but it is a source of spiritual comfort by “Bearing Fruit in Christ”.
The annual stewardship packet usually arrives at our home courtesy of our children who attend Immaculate Conception School. Most often, it’s given to us Sunday evenings when folders are gone through before the start of the coming week. I do a quick glance of the material and file it away to be completed at another time. A few weeks later, on the night before the packet needs to be returned to church, we look over the information to verify that our information and commitments are correct, sign and return. That’s it; stewardship packet completed.
This year, however, will be different. First, we can make our commitments online. Not to use too many clichés, it’s obvious 2020 has been a year that none of us have experienced. And it has changed us. For me, it gave me a greater appreciation of celebrating Mass together with our church family. It also showed me how neighbors and strangers extended kindness to one another as we all coped with changes in our lives. And, it gave me time to pause ... time to reflect on my family and my life.
When the information for Stewardship is available, I will read the materials and note the deadline to return. Then, I’ll pray. I’ll ask God for his guidance in helping me to find the best avenue to share the gifts he has given me. Is there an IC committee or group where I can devote my time and energy? How can I be more involved in celebrating Mass with our church family? How can I help our neighbors in our communities? How can I share God’s message with others? How can I be God’s light? What can I do to use the gifts God has given me to make our church, our community and our world a better place? When you make your commitment, don’t just check the boxes. That’s what I would have done in the past. Rather, join me in prayer. Talk with God to see how you can use your gifts for your family, church and community. Listen to what God is telling you. Through prayer, He will reveal how you can make a difference, Bearing Fruit in Christ.
Jackie & Jeff Russler
Stewardship is so much more than just financial contributions. While financial contributions are important, they are no more important than contributions of our time and talent.
IC was my grade school, and the grade school for our children. Dedication to stewardship (time, talent and treasure) helps our church and school be active in the community, helping others, helping provide opportunities to those in our church and school communities to be involved, and helping make something we can all take great pride in.
One of the most rewarding experiences we have been involved with was co-chairing the school carnival when our children were in grade school. It seemed like a daunting task at first, but the school families took the challenge and ran with it. I don’t remember how much we raised that year, but I do remember how much fun we had, how hard we worked, how beautiful the weather was, how many wonderful parishioners we met, and how much we appreciated the opportunity to be involved. It was truly a great day!
All of these things, and many others, to us, are the very definition of Bearing Fruit In Christ.
Stewardship to me means giving back to the church and community as I try to grow in my faith and help others grow in theirs. It started when , as a child, I wasn’t allowed to miss Mass on Sundays. I didn’t know it, but my Mom was planting seeds in me at a young age. It took many years for that fruit to grow. I am so grateful for her. In 2015 my whole life changed; I was diagnosed with brain cancer and then again in 2018. I never missed Sunday and Holy Day Masses after that and I actually started to look forward to going. I became more grateful for the things I had. I started a gratitude journal. (If you don’t have one, I recommend starting one.) Alpha helped a lot and encouraged me to do more than just go to Mass on Sundays. As a way to grow my faith, I started going to daily Mass one day during the week, reading the daily readings, reading the Bible and trying to bring others to Alpha and God. I didn’t want anyone to miss out on this fire I was feeling inside me. Multiple times every day, I ask God to make me patient, humble, kind and disciplined. I also ask him to show me my calling and that I hear and answer it.
In December 2019, I became a Big Sister through Big Brothers/Big Sisters. It’s a great way for me to use my time, talent, and treasure. Maybe that is the calling God has for me.
We will never be perfect. We must strive to be better than the person we were yesterday, as we grow in Christ.
I am fortunate that God has blessed me in so many ways. He has given me good health, three children and now four grandchildren. My children were able to attend IC school and Helias. That is because of what people have done in the past to build and maintain a Catholic education and facilities for all the parish to use. He also blessed me with a prosperous and rewarding career. Now that I am retired it is time for me to give more back to our parish and community.
There are many ways to fit in and serve, bearing fruit in Christ. Just look at the parish’s website and our guide book’s long list of activities and committees. While giving of our treasure is important for the operation of the parish, it is also important to use our time and talents. It can be with the parish or in our community. I am always so impressed with the number of parishioners that come out to help with parish activities such as the Thanksgiving meal or the Bell Tower BBQ. So let’s keep this service going for future generations as we work to bear fruit in Christ.