Our Annual Stewardship Renewal process is a wonderful opportunity for us to review where we have been and where we are going. Last week, our bulletin included our annual financial report and highlights. This report is our way of providing a clear picture of the financial health of our parish. It’s been a crazy couple of years for so many of our parish families, as we have endured the pandemic and the uncertainty that came with it. As always, we are grateful for your continued generosity in giving from your blessings.
Two years ago, we launched our very first stewardship drive. It included letters and brochures, announcements and follow up letters, and finally, a commitment card. The results were exceptional! Your willingness to reflect on your giving and intentionally consider what you would be able to do the following year, indicated your desire to provide for the needs of the church. And then, the Covid-19 pandemic started sweeping across the world. Suddenly, our regular lives were turned upside down, many lost jobs, incomes dwindled or disappeared altogether, and fear clouded our future. Last year’s report plainly showed the drastic drop in giving due to the ongoing uncertainty.
While considering the annual renewal process last year, we acknowledged the struggles most of our families were still facing. We asked you first to pray. Praying our way through difficult times is effective
because it keeps us connected to the One who still holds everything in His hands.
Remember from last week’s article, everything has been created by God and therefore, everything belongs to Him. We are simply asked to care for it, share it, and return it to Him in better condition than we received it. If you take another look at the graph from this year’s financial report, you’ll see how you responded yet again. The uptick in giving was still greater than the comparable year of 2018/2019.
As we emerge from the pandemic into the “new normal” we have all heard about, we find ourselves at renewal time again! This year, we are focusing on the familiar ideas of Praying, Serving, and Giving. As the Body of Christ – Becoming Disciples, these are the key areas of stewardship.
It seems odd to ask people to indicate their intention to regular prayer on a commitment card. It’s not that we are going to call you randomly and ask if you prayed your rosary that day like you noted on the card. Even though that might be a creative method of accountability, we promise we won’t do that. However, considering a specific form of daily prayer helps us to spend time thinking about how our prayer life is now and how we can improve it in the future. By adding a chaplet, a morning offering, or scripture to our days, we might discover new ways to center our lives around Jesus.
A simple internet search produces numerous examples of stewardship prayers. One from St. Ignatius of Loyola brings home the concept that everything belongs to God, and we are simply taking care of what He has given us:
Take Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all I have and call my own: You have given all to me. To you, Lord, I return it. Everything is yours; do with it what you will. Give me only your love and your grace; that is enough for me. Amen.
When I was first given this prayer by my pastor about ten years ago, I found it convicting and difficult to pray. As with all prayers, the more we pray, the more our hearts are conformed to the will of God.
Jesus reminded us that, “The poor you will always have with you…” (Mt 26:11). With this in mind, we know that there are constantly more opportunities to serve others in need. Our parish is so blessed with multiple ministries whose main focus is providing support to the homeless and hungry.
St. Vincent de Paul seeks the support of our parishioners throughout the year and your generosity never ceases to amaze us! From bottled water in the hot summer months to coats, sweaters, and blankets in the cold winter months; from Thanksgiving dinners to Christmas presents for those who would otherwise have none – giving to others from our own blessings reminds us that we are all part of God’s family.
The Family Promise ministry has been part of our parish for several years now. Twice a year, we host homeless families for a week. These families are struggling through difficult times, and we are privileged to support them with meals, activities for the kids, and a safe place to spend the night. If you have not yet volunteered for one of these days, please plan to do so in the future. You will be transformed in heart and mind – and you may just get hooked on helping every time!
Our annual Parish Expo highlights many more ways for us to be involved in the parish. Serving others is a key of stewardship because it is the ultimate form of giving: giving of ourselves. When we are involved in serving others, whether directly at a homeless shelter or here at the parish, we are fulfilling the Lord’s commandment to love one another!
Ever since the Church began, believers have pooled their resources to support the good of the community. Acts 2:45 tells of the communal life of early Christians: “…they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s need.” While we don’t advocate creating a commune in Ahwatukee, we still honor this tradition by giving to the church financially. Whether weekly, monthly, or annually, it is very good to plan ahead and determine how often and how much we give. We often mention how setting up regular donations online is safe, simple, and secure. It provides guidance for the Parish Administration and Finance Council to budget for everything from staff salaries to electric bills to routine maintenance.
However, giving to the church is more than just paying the bills. We call our parish a family of families because we support each other in many ways. Our material needs are not our only needs. As a community of Christians, we are also called to grow in our own faith. Our parish strives to provide opportunities like Bible studies, prayer groups, and fellowship events. I can attest to the fact that we love brainstorming creative ideas to engage all our members in the life of the parish. We welcome your ideas too!
Praying, serving, and giving are keys of stewardship that we need to incorporate into our everyday lives. By intentionally determining how we will do this and committing to each area, we will soon find ourselves becoming the Body of Christ that God intends us to be!BACK TO LIST