In a recent conversation with one of our priests I learned about a parishioner who was invited to be a part of the parish finance council. It was soon after his first meeting that he indicated to the pastor that he was unaware of the financial needs of the parish and that he was only putting in loose change and a couple of dollars into the collection basket. Being on the finance council opened his eyes to the needs of the parish and his view of financially supporting the Church. He told the pastor that his contribution habits have since changed.
As I heard this story, my heart and appreciation went out to the gentleman. I thoroughly understood where he was coming from. He did not know the needs of the parish and historically the Church has always taken the lead in providing for others. The Catholic Church in the US has provided for immigrants; built hospitals, schools and orphanages; and always looked to serve the needs of others—regardless of ethnic or religious background.
In the reading from the Acts of the Apostles during Mass on the Second Sunday of Easter, we heard that that the ‘community of believers were of one heart and mind’ and that ‘there was no needy person among them’ for the disciples would place their contributions ‘at the feet of the apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need.’ (Acts 4:32-35)
Within this edition of the Southeast Alaska Catholic you will find an insert (Blessing and Needs ) that tells you of the various blessings and needs of the Diocese. It is my hope to keep the Catholic community informed so as to assist you, the disciples of today, in answering the call to stewardship by giving you a Diocesan wide glimpse of our gifts and needs.
This is the time of year when many of us have just finished our taxes and have a clear picture of how much we have given to others and how much we have given back to the Lord. It is my belief that giving to the Church should be a part of our lives as Catholics and of our personal spirituality. Our giving to the Church is a participation in working for the Kingdom of God. The Church, the Body of Christ on earth, continues to reach out through the ministry of Word and Sacrament while at the same time providing for those in need.
We have learned in Scripture that a steward is the one who has been entrusted to manage property, affairs or finances that are not his or her own. This Scriptural understanding of steward is important for our recognizing that all the abilities, gifts, talents and resources we have are on loan to us, given to us by God out of love, and we are stewards of these many blessings.
Fr. Henri Nouwen once said, “As our prayer deepens into a constant awareness of God’s goodness, the spirit of gratitude grows within us. Gratitude flows from the recognition that who we are and what we have are gifts to be received and shared. Gratitude releases us from the bonds of obligation and prepares us to offer ourselves freely and fully for the work of the kingdom.”
First and foremost, as a Catholic community, we are called to give of our time, in particular, to prayer. It is important that we pray for the success of the work of the Church. Secondly, we are to give of our talents—we are not to keep our “light under a bushel basket.” There are many opportunities for parishioners to give of their time and talent to the various ministries of our parishes and missions (lector, altar server, Eucharistic minister, the choir, the Knights of Columbus, etc.). And we have many monetary needs, with limited revenue, which necessitates the renewed efforts to raise the awareness of giving and stewardship within the Diocese.
After consultation with our Diocesan Finance Committee and the priests of the Diocese, I have embarked on a number of fundraising efforts. We are planning a “Cruise through the Inside Passage” in August; I have established the Bishop Michael H. Kenny Memorial Fund in commemoration of what would have been his 75th birthday this year (June 26); we are planning workshops on wills and bequests; we are increasing the awareness of effective stewardship within the Diocese. I see a lot of potential in this Diocese and I ask you to join me in working and contributing to the success of our work as disciples of Jesus Christ.
“God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work.” (2 Cor. 5:17)