Witness letter- Aaron May
My name is Aaron May and I would like to give a brief reflection on Stewardship and how it has become an essential part of my family’s life. My wife Becky and I have been members of St. Joseph’s parish for 7 years. We have 5 children ranging from 4 months to 10 years of age. We moved into the parish from Kansas City where we lived for five years. During those years we had our first two girls and were learning how to be parents as well as learning how to be part of our parish Church. We did very little, especially me, beyond Sunday Mass and Becky’s weekly holy hour. We felt we were doing what was necessary and no one asked any more of us. Plus, with little kids at home it was easy to come up with reasons for not getting involved. When we moved back to Lincoln and into St. Joseph’s parish, things changed. Thanks to the example of friends and relatives as well as a few friendly nudges from a loving pastor, we began getting more involved in parish life. This began again with a holy hour and then becoming an acolyte, but has grown into various parish and diocesan activities including the Godparent program, Stewardship committee, Serra Club, and giving Engaged Encounter weekends. I have also helped put on the parish Trivia Night to support the Youth Program and planned a city-wide scavenger hunt called the Amazing Chase to benefit St. Monica’s. I list these activities not to boast, but to point out some truths I have discovered through these opportunities.
1. Talents: God gave us our own set of talents, however obscure they may seem, to do His work. Up to this point for me this has translated into using Excel skills to put together the Acolyte schedule or coming up with difficult trivia questions to stump the brains of the parish. We were all given special talents and as stewards we must cultivate them in service of God and others. I am still learning how to do this, but know that God will put these opportunities in front of me if I am open to His will.
2. Humility: No matter how much we give, we always receive more in the end. My increased involvement in various groups in the parish has only opened my eyes to others that give even more. I am blessed to have been given the opportunity to serve with them and it has strengthened my relationship with Christ through their witness. I come away from these interactions not proud of my involvement, but thankful and encouraged to do even more.
3. 1 Cor 3:10-11 “According to the grace of God given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But each one must be careful how he builds upon it, for no one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there, namely, Jesus Christ.”
We do not act in isolation and therefore our acts of stewardship not only give glory to God and help those in need, but they also are laying a foundation for others to grow closer to Christ. Personally, the foundation laid by many of our fellow parishioners in the various organizations has allowed me to understand God’s love better and deepened my faith. We have a responsibility to continue this growth as we are provided opportunities to give of our time, talent, and treasure.
As stated above, my personal growth in being a steward started with a call; a simple request from a fellow parishioner to start getting involved in a parish organization. I would like to take this opportunity to ask the same of you. There are many great parish organizations where you could use the specific gifts that God has given you. Becky and I have found that if we say “yes” when asked to do something, God gives us the time or knowledge or money needed to meet this need. In the end, we never regret these decisions and have grown in our relationship together and with Christ because of these acts of service.
“Give yourself fully to God. He will use you to accomplish great things on the condition that you believe much more in His love than in your own weakness.” – Blessed Mother Teresa
Witness letter- Sue Carraher
My name is Sue Carraher and I am honored to share some thoughts on stewardship with my fellow parishioners. My husband, Jim, and I have been members of Saint Joseph Catholic Church for 21 years. It seems like only yesterday, we were regular residents in the church “cry room,” but next fall we will have three sons in college and one son in high school.
I work in fundraising for Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital where we appreciate the power of good stewardship. Lives of children and adults with disabilities are impacted positively every day thanks to the generosity of Madonna’s many friends and the wise stewardship of those gifts.
Growing up in Omaha at the height of the baby boomer years, I attended the largest Catholic grade school in Nebraska at the time. I was one of more than 1,000 students at St. Pius X grade school from the mid-1960s to the early 1970s. Eight large chartered busses wove across the parish boundaries transporting students in grades one through eight. My parents paid $4.50 a month for bus service. Hot lunch cost 35 cents a day. And tuition? Thanks to the stewardship of the parish, no family paid tuition.
Beyond the weekly contribution envelopes, my parents participated actively in parish life -- volunteering at the school and church, raising money for building funds, and even hosting neighborhood masses in our home. They modeled stewardship in action and I know they felt they received much more than they gave.
The beauty of stewardship is that it moves parish life from ordinary to extraordinary.
Your friendships can be stronger. Your experiences can be richer. Your relationship with God can be deeper. I think of the people I have been fortunate to get to know over the years – people that I may have never met had it not been for various parish opportunities for involvement.
What energetic Cub Scout would I have not gotten acquainted with had I passed on being a St. Joseph Pack 45 scout leader? I think about the amazing women I had the privilege of serving with as an Altar Society officer, the dedicated individuals I admire and work with in our parish’s St. Vincent de Paul Society Conference and all those spirited 7th graders I teach at CCD each week. Like my parents, I receive much more than I give.
Good stewardship is not just about fundraising – its essence is “friend raising.” As Mother Teresa once said, “Let us more and more insist on raising funds of love, of kindness, of understanding, of peace. Money will come if we seek first the Kingdom of God - the rest will be given.” That, in my mind, is stewardship. Lent is a great time to take your involvement to the next level through the Annual Stewardship Renewal.