Christian Stewardship: A Way of Life

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Please see below for Stewardship Corner. Click here for Stewardship Resources.

In the Stewardship Corner, each week you can follow our new stewardship program, which was introduced the weekend after Easter. We intend to inform you of events on our stewardship calendar and to educate you more fully about stewardship…what it is and what it isn’t. This column will continue as our parish grows in its understanding of Christian Stewardship.

16January2016Becoming a Disciple of Jesus…                                                                                    Early last year, we introduced this weekly feature in our Bulletin and entitled it, “Stewardship Corner.” You probably thought we chose that title because the article always appears in the “corner” of page 3. Good guess…but only partly correct. The real reason is because Stewardship is one corner of the puzzling question, “How do we become true disciples of Jesus?” But the full puzzle has four corners and would look as follows: Stewardship is an important part of the foundation, and that’s why we spent time in 2016 developing our understanding of what it means to be a good Steward of God’s gifts, emphasizing ways to use our time, talent, and treasure as God intends us to. While we will continue to teach about stewardship in 2017, w
e will do so in context of the more important goal—learning to become a Disciple of Christ. Next Sunday we will begin that program and as such will re-title this part of the Bulletin as “4 Corners of Discipleship”.

08January2017  Becoming Disciples of The Lord Last week we emphasized that Chrisan Stewardship is not our final goal; but it is a very important part of the foundaon needed to become a Disciple of Christ. So the first quesons to answer in 2017 are what is Discipleship and what must we do to be true disciples of Jesus. A disciple is a follower of a mentor who accepts the mentor’s theories, teachings, or doctrines, and who assists in spreading them. A Chrisan disciple is one who responds to Christ’s call, follows Jesus, and shapes his/her life in imitaon of Jesus Christ. Our Catechism teaches: “A disciple of Christ must not only keep the faith and live it, but also profess it, confidently bear witness to it, and spread it.” This requires that we read the Word of God and allow it to form our lives. Scripture says that a Chrisan disciple: · Loves God with all his heart, soul, and mind · Loves neighbor as self · Is a good Steward of the Lord’s gi4s · Spreads the Good News of Jesus Christ Throughout 2017 we will share a lot of informaon about how you can respond to this call to become a disciple of Christ. As our Stewardship banner last year asked…”Will you join us on this journey?”

01January2017 As 2016 draws to a close and we embark on a new year, it is valuable to reflect on one of the major efforts our parish conducted this year. We focused on Christian Stewardship. We saw the need to remind (or in many cases introduce) everyone to what it is all about. In a nutshell, a Christian Steward is one who acknowledges that God is the Creator and owner of everything—and that He has given us a share of His creation through His gifts of our time, talent, and treasure. Why? So that we will use His gifts wisely, joyfully, and thankfully in the furtherance of His kingdom here on Earth. Through homilies, bulletin articles, lay witnesses, and letters, we focused on teaching. And through our pledge campaigns, we tried to bring that new learning into action. We were very pleased that so many of you joined us on our journey to become Christian Stewards. Is being a good steward the final goal? Absolutely not. But it is a very important part of the foundation needed to become a Disciple of Christ. In 2017, we want to build on your understanding and commitment to stewardship as we move together toward the goal of Discipleship. Once again we will begin that journey by teaching more about Discipleship… what it is and what we must do to be true disciples of Jesus. Stay with us on this journey as we take what we’ve learned about stewardship, put it into action, and continue our transformation to Discipleship. We hope and pray that 2017 will be a great year of growth and development for all of us.

25December2016  Lesson from the Infant Jesus:                                                                                   #1 There is no shame in being poor: It is interesting to note that while throughout his adult life Jesus always taught us to give and to serve, He first came into this world as one who needed assistance. It was no accident that He was born without a place to lay His head. In coming to our world in this way Jesus shows us there is no shame in being poor. A risk we take when we practice stewardship is that we may begin to think of ourselves as better or luckier than someone in need and consciously or unconsciously look down upon those who need our generosity. When we look down upon the poor we look down upon the infant Jesus Himself. #2 Lesson from the Shepherds: The shepherds came from the fields bringing only themselves and their sheep. Yet their interest in Jesus was enough to win them a place in the Christmas story for all times. What is their stewardship message to us? Even if all we have to give is our interest, our caring, and our time to come and visit; those are important gifts to give. #3 Lesson from the Wise Men: Just worshipping Jesus isn’t enough. The Wise Men present an entirely different message than the shepherds. Like most of us, these were men with many blessings. They are praised in the Christmas story not just for coming to worship Jesus but also for bringing Him gifts. The lesson is that just going to church is not enough. We also are expected to bring our gifts with us.

18December2016 “When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.” MATTHEW 1:24 Just as Joseph did, we must put our complete trust in the Lord without expecting anything in return. We must strive to put God first in all things and follow Him wherever He may lead us. As we prepare for the birth of our Lord, pray for the strength and courage to be a model of discipleship, just as Joseph was. Are you putting your trust in God?

11December2016 “You too must be patient. Make you hearts firm, because the coming of the Lord is at hand.” JAMES 5:8 Patience is another one of those things many of us struggle with. We want things to go according to our plan and our schedule. Any change brings anxiety and fear. Through giving time in daily prayer we can better align ourselves with God’s will and His plan, which is far better than anything we can come up with on our own. Are you committed to daily prayer?

04December2016  “Therefore, every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” Mahew 3:10 Do you bear good fruit for Christ? Or, do you spend your time, talent and treasure constantly acquiring more toys, clutter and junk. Our time, our talent and our treasure are gifts that God has given us. What we do with them is our gift back to God. What gifts are you planning to give to the Lord during this Christmas season and throughout the new year?

27November2016 “For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.” Matthew 24:42 Reflection: People who have had health issues or near death experiences generally have a greater appreciation for each day being a gift from God. The rest of us usually take for granted that we will be around tomorrow. But when you start to look at each day as a gift, you realize all the little miracles that happen daily. Are you aware and grateful for all the gifts that you’ve been given?

20November2016 “….giving thanks to the Father, who has made you fit to share in the inheritance of the holy ones in light.” Colossians 1:12 God wants us to be happy! Instead of looking at the Ten Commandments as being restrictive and telling us what we can’t do, look at them as guides for living a joy-filled and peaceful life. Most of our problems arise when we put our own needs first or spend most of our time trying to acquire “things”. Instead do you try putting God first in all things?

13November2016 “…Rather, we wanted to present ourselves as a model for you, so that you might imitate us.” 2 THESSALONIANS 3:9 Most people who live a grateful and generous lifestyle don’t go around bragging about it. But through their actions and words, others do take notice. They notice the joy and peace that results and they desire this in their own life. Know that the way you live your life may be the only interaction others have with the Catholic faith. If you are accused of being Catholic, would you be found guilty as charged?

06November2016 “May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting encouragement and good hope through his grace, encourage your hearts and strengthen them in every good deed and word.” 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 There are two important lessons here. First, we are called to be generous with our encouragement and hope. As God shows us mercy, we must be merciful to others. Second, joy is contagious! The joy we receive from doing good works not only strengthens us, it encourages others as well. Do your words and deeds show your joyfulness?

30October2016 “But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, ‘Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor, and if I extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over.’” LUKE 19:8 We are all called to graciously give back to the Lord in proportion to the blessings we have been given. This means everyone isn’t called to give the same amount, but we are called to give equal sacrifice. No amount is too small or insignificant! Open your heart—can you see how is God calling you?

23October2016 “…for whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 18:14 Pride and ego are the root causes of many of our sins. Thinking your time is so valuable, your talent is better than anyone else and your money gives you status is another way of making those things “gods” before God. Remember all those gifts were Godgiven. Instead we should be humbled by God’s abundant generosity and our hearts should be filled with gratitude. Do you show your gratitude daily through your actions?

16October2016  “…be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient…” 2 Timothy 4:2
It is not always convenient to be a good steward, especially when all the temptations of our busy and materialistic world get in the way. Now add our own pride and ego into the equation and living a stewardship lifestyle may be downright uncomfortable! Remember, God didn’t call us to be comfortable. He called us to be faithful. Am you answering His call?

09October16 Did you know that the Sunday readings speak about Stewardship every week?   It is true….and now that the time, talent, and treasure phases of our Stewardship Campaign are finished, we will begin to use a different format for our Stewardship Corner. Each week, we will choose an excerpt from the Sunday readings and ask you to think about how it relates to Christian Stewardship. Today’s selected verse is: “Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” Luke 17:18 Most of us live fairly “easy” lives. We have food, shelter and clothing. We go on vacation every year and own a car or two. Most of us take this all for granted. Did you ever notice that people with the least amount of possessions are usually the most grateful? Shouldn’t this be the other way around? Are you taking time every day to thank God for all He has given you? We welcome your questions or comments. Please email us at stewardship@sjcmmd.org

02October16 What were the final results from the time and talent portions of the Stewardship Campaign?                                                                                                                                          Now that all of the time and talent commitments have been tabulated, here are some of the highlights: 1. The parish database contained 1,700 adults who had the opportunity to send in a card, and 269 parishioners did so. 2. Of the 269 responses: a. 64.3% (173 people) are already involved in ministries b. 35.7% (96 people) were willing to get involved who hadn’t done so previously c. 87.0% committed to more time in prayer and Mass attendance. d. Many parishioners were interested in multiple ministries; in total, 340 ministry participants could have been gained from the 269 respondents. 3. Of those 340 potentials mentioned above, 252 ministry positions were filled…a 74% conversion rate. Additionally, some respondents are still considering joining; and if all of them did join, our conversion rate would be 91%. 4. The ministries generating the most interest were: a. Outreach (36 people) b. Rosary Making (33 people) While we wish we would have had 100% participation and all of our ministries abundantly staffed, we are still pleased with the results of this year’s efforts. Since most Stewardship programs take 3-5 years to reach maximum results, we look forward to building on the results of this year as we go forward. Also, remember that you don’t have to wait until next year’s campaign to join a ministry. All of the ministries at St. Joseph’s are open for new members all year long. Simply contact the office and they will put you in touch with the ministry of your choice

25Sep16-How do I know if I am being a good steward and giving enough of
my treasure?
This can be a perplexing question for most parishioners. Do I judge myself based upon what my friends do? Or what I did last year? Or what the Archdiocese recommends? Or the Bible’s reference to tithing…giving 10%? Or something else? Probably the best suggestion is to examine your conscience and prayerfully implore the Holy Spirit to guide you in your giving decision. As we turn within ourselves and ponder whether our giving is enough, ask first, “Am I truly giving to God from my first fruits, or
am I giving God what is left over after all of my other needs and wants are met?”; and second, “Are my gifts representative of my thankfulness and proportionate to what God has given to me?”. The strongest motivation for giving is gratitude. If people give of themselves because they are grateful for what God has given them and they feel at peace, then it makes no difference what the amount of the gift is. The Scriptures comment on gratitude: “Each of us must do as already determined, without sadness or compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2Corinthians 9:7). If we are cheerful and at peace,
then our giving is enough.

18Sep16 – What if I can’t afford to give any money to the church? What should I do?

The message of stewardship invites each of us to give our time, talent, and treasure in gratitude to God for the abundant blessings he has given to us.

For some of us, giving of our time and talent goes without saying. We recognize our gifts and respond to the invitation to participate in the community of faith by sharing of ourselves.

But giving of our treasure may seem more difficult for many faithful Catholics, especially during trying economic times. One might ask “How can I give when I can’t even make ends meet as it is?”

This is where we are invited to an understanding that Christian Stewardship involves trust. With trust and confidence in God we respond to the invitation to give of our treasure and abandon ourselves to God’s providence. When we accept that God has his hands fully upon our lives, we will also find that as we share, we will be cared for in our needs; maybe not all of our wants, but certainly our needs.

This trust must be what the poor widow felt in the gospel story about the widow’s mite. She had almost nothing, but she offered everything she had to God.

Regardless of our circumstances, a life committed to Christian Stewardship includes giving of our treasure as well as our time and talent. Our giving may begin very small, and increase over time, but the key to our giving lies in our trust.

One way to start is to simply identify one or two spending areas in your life that you can reduce to convert to giving to God. This could be one cup of coffee a week, or a lunch out. Regardless of what we choose, when we give back to God from our “first fruits,” we find that He will provide for our needs.

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11Sep16 – Are there any benefits of pledging versus just giving money to the parish?

 Yes…there are benefits to the individual and to the parish.

The benefit to the individual is the peace of knowing that you put God first in your use of money. God asks that our gifts be planned and proportionate. By pledging, you can accomplish that.

For the parish, your pledge gives us more certainty about our income; and that predictability enables us to plan programs, activities, and expenses much more accurately. Imagine how hard it would be for you to know what you could afford to spend each month if each of your paychecks went up and down like a pogo stick and you never knew what the amounts would be until you opened the pay envelope. That is what we experience when your weekly giving is based upon what’s left in your account after all other expenses.

Overall, pledging results in your gifts coming from your first fruits, as God has asked; and for the parish, it results in a more predictable pattern of giving and more accurate budgeting.

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04Sep16 – What does “take a step” mean with respect to financial pledging?

The letter you will receive this week from Fr. Frazier includes a financial pledge card and your personal giving summary for January through June. We are asking each parishioner to look at their past contributions as a percentage of their income. The grid on the pledge card shows the weekly offertory amount that corresponds to various % gifts based upon your level of income.

Fproblems, and opportunities.

Third, we have recently revised the frequency and content of financial reporting we do for parishioners. From now on we will report every six months in depth and in a format that we hope will be more understandable. We will also provide a monthly overview report in the bulletin. Our goal is complete transparency regarding our financial situation. We do our best to be a good steward of the gifts we receive from you, and we are always open to your ideas for change and improvement.

Our annual Financial Report is here: FY16 Financial Report [Aug16]. As you review it, you will see how collections from July 2015 to June 2016 were used to pay our operating expenses, fund our ministries and activities, and pay our mortgage, all of these and more supporting us in our mission.

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or example, let’s assume that your previous gifts represent 2% of your income. “Take a step” means that we’d like you to increase your giving to a higher percentage…perhaps 2.5% or 3% or more. Each subsequent year we’d like you to reexamine your giving to see if you can continue to take steps that truly reflect the thankfulness you have for the gifts God has given to you.

While the Bible encourages tithing, giving 10% of your income back to God, we are only asking you to understand your giving and to assess whether it is appropriate. By taking small “steps” your giving will increase gradually without disrupting the financial needs of your family.

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28Aug16 – How is the parish using all the money I’ve given in the past? Is the parish being a “good steward”?

Being a good steward requires us to prudently manage the money we receive. This mandates that we do three things very well.

First, as our parish manager James creates the budget, he ensures our expenses are relevant and appropriate to our mission. Then the members of our Finance Ministry review it and ask questions, recommend changes, and then give their approval. Father Frazier reviews it in the same way, and then the Archdiocese must review and approve the budget.

Second, after the budget has been thoroughly challenged and approved, we diligently manage to it throughout the year. James and the staff monitor the finances constantly. James meets monthly with Father and our Finance Ministry to report and discuss results,

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21Aug16 – Why should I give more money to church? Don’t Catholics already give more than others?

In fact, Catholics don’t. Catholic giving lags behind other religious groups according to most polls and studies taken over the past 20 years.

According to a Gallup Poll, Catholic households contributed on average less money to the Church and charities than members of all other religious groups in the United States, as shown below. Percentages show the percent of household income given.

Jewish: 3.8%
All Other Religions: 2.7%
Protestant: 2.4%
Catholic: 1.3%

So how does our parish fit in? We lag the national average for Catholics. Based on our average parishioner offertory amount and the average income for Frederick County, our average parishioner gives about 0.8%, a full half-percent less than the national average for Catholics. Imagine how much more our parish could do toward fulfilling our mission if we just met the national average!

BONUS CONTENT! Read Deacon Greg’s homily from this weekend here: Christian Stewardship Homily 3 – 21Aug16

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14Aug16 – Christian Stewardship uses the terms planned, proportionate, intentional, and sacrificial to describe our gifts. What do those terms mean?

As Christian Stewards, our gifts should be…

Intentional – We take time to carefully consider how we live our lives, and then we consciously choose to live our lives in a way that expresses thanks to God for all His blessings by returning to Him a portion of the time, talent and treasure given to us.

Planned – Each year as we consider how our family will spend our time, talent, and treasure, we plan exactly how we can best make Christian Stewardship a part of our lifestyle and of our budget.

Proportionate – We decide to give a specific percentage of our time and income to the church and to other charities.

Sacrificial –To sacrifice means to “make sacred.” Through sacrificial giving we make sacred the work of our daily lives, giving our time, talent, and treasure as gifts of love, freely returning to God the first portion of what He has given to us.

Do your gifts fit these descriptions? As you discern the ways to live your life as a Christian Steward, prayer is always a good step in seeking God’s guidance you as you make your giving decisions.

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07Aug16 – Why is the Church always asking for money?

Most pastors will say that this is what they like the least about their job. No priest wants to continue to ask people to “give to the needs” of the parish, but the asking must continue because the daily operation of the parish requires money for everything from the utilities to salaries to outreach to mortgage payments.

In addition, it is a duty of the Church to ask for money, not only for the work of the parish, but also for the work that is done by charitable organizations in the community. The Church sees so much suffering and so many needs and has a responsibility to address that suffering and those needs. On a number of occasions, St. Paul urged the early Church to give money to help those in need. He even had very specific instructions on taking the collection for Jerusalem in his second letter to the Corinthians.

Today the focus of the Church is much more on stewardship than on “talking about money.” Christian Stewardship is based on the individual’s need to give thanks, not on the Church’s need to receive. It is based on the premise that all that we have and all that we are comes from God and as a way to thank God for all His blessings, we return to Him a portion of the time, talent, and treasure allotted to us. We must desire to “need to give” to become good Christian Stewards. As your understanding of Christian Stewardship grows, you will begin to discover this “need to give” and move away from the feeling that you are just “giving to the needs” of our Church. And when that happens, the need for the Church to ask for money will diminish, not because the expenses cease, but because the gifts are given without asking.

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31Jul16 – What is the best way for me to get my friends and neighbors involved in ministry work?

Many studies have been done to find out why people get involved in ministry work. The findings show that you can help! Here’s how:

People more readily get involved once they understand that giving their time and talent to the Church is an important part of being a disciple of Christ. Can you do anything to help others see this…perhaps by sharing your reasons for being involved?

People give time to a “cause” if it is meaningful to them. If you can passionately explain the vision of a specific ministry, others will be more inclined to get involved, especially if it matches their own passions.

People join a ministry they believe has strong leadership. If you introduce the ministry leader and highlight his or her important traits (integrity, honesty, commitment, etc.), people will be more comfortable about joining.

People are more likely to get involved if they know that the people they will be working with are like them and fun to be around. Can you to introduce others to your fellow ministry members?

Bottom line: people join ministries because they are invited to do so by someone they know and trust and who passionately shares insights about the ministry’s goals, leadership, and membership.

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24Jul16 – What is the Stewardship Committee and what does it do? Who are the members?

A study in our parish last year revealed that a significant number of us had an incomplete understanding of Christian stewardship. Many thought it purely an appeal for money, instead of knowing the true meaning: to joyfully give our time, talent, and treasure back to God in thanksgiving for all His gifts to us.

Because Christian Stewardship is a key component in becoming a disciple of Christ, Father Frazier approved the formation of a Stewardship Committee to lead and guide programs to strengthen our understanding and commitment to Christian Stewardship. He asked the Committee to integrate Stewardship throughout the ministries of our parish, and to maintain Stewardship education yearround.

The Stewardship Committee oversees ongoing parish Stewardship efforts and:

  • develops programs for educating parishioners and harvesting their gifts;
  • collaborates with committees and parish leaders to incorporate Christian Stewardship through all areas of ministry
  • creates plans to ensure parishioners understand that they are a valuable part of the parish with unique talents to help accomplish our Mission.

The committee is led by Bruce Robertson, a parishioner with experience leading Stewardship ministries in other parishes. Also members are Deacon Greg Rausch, Parish Manager James Mannarino, and Discipleship Ministry chairperson Mary Jane Ewing.

If you’d like to learn more about the Stewardship Committee or how you might participate, please email us at stewardship@sjcmmd.org.

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17Jul16 – What if I volunteer for a ministry and then find out that I’m not good at it or it’s not right for me?

Don’t worry…volunteering to join a ministry is not a “lifetime sentence or commitment” as some people believe. When people serve in a ministry that doesn’t align with their gifts and interests, they will likely become frustrated and burned out. And if this occurs, both the ministry and the individual lose. So if you think it’s not right for you, tell the ministry leader. They’ll understand.

What may be more important is what you do before joining the ministry to help assess whether the ministry will be a good fit. Here are some suggestions:

  • Let the ministry leader know that you want to observe how the ministry operates before fully committing to membership. Go to a meeting or two; attend an activity; talk to current members of the ministry; and ask about the results of the ministry’s work.
  • Think about the skills involved in the ministry. Do you have them? Are they skills you enjoy using? Both of these can be assessed by identifying your skills and talents. (Later this year, we’ll introduce a program that will help you do this.)
  • Observe the other ministry members. Do they seem to be people you would be comfortable working with?
  • Think about the results of the ministry’s efforts. Are they important to you? Would you be passionate about helping achieve them?
  • Understand the expectations and commitments required for the ministry. Make sure you can meet them while still feeling joyful about giving your time.

Doing these things may seem like a lot of effort, but as the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

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10Jul16 – How can I find more time in my day for prayer?

Sometimes it seems that finding more time in our already busy day is impossible. Work, school, commuting, cooking, cleaning, sports, activities, and more fill our days and we wonder what time we have “left” for prayer.

It’s time to think about it another way. God doesn’t want us to see it as giving Him what’s left after everything else is done. God wants us to give our first fruits to Him…and in this case that means we should prioritize what we do with our time so we can begin and end our day with prayer and make time for prayer throughout our day.

Perhaps this means praying as soon as you awake, or during breakfast, or instead of watching the morning news or doing your first round of texting or emails.

Or maybe it means listening to a Catholic radio station while commuting to work or to school; or turning the radio off and praying.

Your prayer life can also include prayer before each meal. And what about those quiet moments during the day? Whether they last five seconds or five minutes, try to fill them with personal prayer. God is always listening when we are ready to talk.

Finally, plan to end the day with evening prayers to thank God for all He helped you with during the day.

If you have difficulty praying, you may find help through resources like those found at www.catholic.org/prayers, www.catholicdoors.com/prayers, or www.ourcatholicprayers.com.

God wants to provide the spiritual nourishment that prayer brings. If you will give the gift of time to God in this way, it will always pay dividends. Why not give it a try?

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03Jul16 – Will it really make a difference if I commit now to Christian Stewardship?

Have you ever held a door open for someone struggling with their bags as they exit a store? Or given your loose change to someone on the street? Or offered directions to a visitor who was lost? Simple, small acts of kindness. You know they made a difference to the person you’ve helped, but think about how good it also made you feel. Responding “yes” to someone in need by sharing our gifts is what we know we should do; and we know it makes a difference.

But sometimes we ignore the needs of others when they are needed, even with our good intentions. We think things like:

  • “Someday when I have more time…”
  • “When I’ve reached my goals…”
  • “I’ll give my share of time, talent, and treasure…but not right now.”

If these are our thoughts, how can we explain it to those in need of our prayers, or in need of a kind ear who will listen, or in need of other acts of Christian Stewardship? Can we expect them to put their lives and problems on hold until we are ready to give? If we are not using the gifts that God has given us to help others every day of our lives, then we are not acting as disciples of Jesus and we are missing a great opportunity. Seize the day! The time is now!

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26Jun26 – I know I should teach my children about Christian Stewardship, but I don’t know what to say.

We encourage you to help your children join you on your stewardship journey – to help them learn to be Disciples of Jesus. There are six things you can teach your children about Christian Stewardship through your words and more importantly, your actions:

  • Everything we have is a gift from God.
  • We should be grateful to God and to others for the gifts we receive.
  • We have a responsibility to share our gifts with the poor.
  • We should ask God for guidance in using our gifts.
  • We must understand the difference between a need and a want.
  • True joy comes from helping others.

We are pleased to include in today’s bulletin a page designed for you to share with your elementary-age children: Stewardship for Kids 26Jun16 bulletin

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19Jun16 – Does the Bible talk about Stewardship? Is it in both the Old and New Testaments?

Yes. The Bible has many (more than 80) references to stewardship, direct and indirect, in both the Old and New Testaments. Many people are familiar with the stories of the Widow’s Mite, the Good Samaritan, and the Master and his gifts of talents. Some other stewardship references perhaps not be as familiar to you include:

“…Your own free will offering shall be in proportion to the blessing the Lord, your God, has bestowed on you.” (Deuteronomy 16:10)

“…Give to the Most High as He has given to you, generously, according to your means.” (Sirach 35:9)

“…Jesus said to him, “Go sell what you have and give it to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven.” (Mark 10:21)

“…Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.” (Mark 10:43)

The Bible is rich with stories about stewardship. We invite you to seek them out and spend time reading and praying about them. Or as Matthew says, “Seek and ye shall find…”

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12Jun16 – Stewardship refers to giving the “first fruits.” Where did this idea come from and what does it mean?

First fruits are a religious offering of the first agricultural produce of the harvest. In classical Greek, Roman, Hebrew, and Christian religions, the first fruits were given to priests to offer to God. First fruits were often a primary source of income to maintain the religious leaders and the facility. In the Bible, there are many verses that refer to “first fruits.” Two you may recall are:

  • Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with grain, and your vats will overflow with new wine. (Proverbs 3: 9-10)
  • The choicest first fruits of your soil you shall bring to the house of the Lord your God…   (Exodus 34: 26)

There are three key points to take from this:

  1. the offering was made first before any other use was made of the harvest, even feeding the people;
  2. because it was first it was generally the best of the produce, not that which came later in the harvest;
  3. people trust that God will bless them and take care of all their needs.

First, best, and trust…a succinct way to remember the message of Christian Stewardship.

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05Jun16 – Why should I give more money to the Church when so many parishioners aren’t giving anything?

In the Financial Summary you’ll find in today’s bulletin we report that more than half of our registered families (500+) aren’t giving to our collections in a way we can track. For example:

  • We track contributions made using envelopes or electronic giving. Contributions of loose money cannot be tracked, and we don’t record individual checks that are not in envelopes, so some parishioners who may be contributing to our collections are not included in our reporting.
  • Some parishioners are unable to give anything due to a negative financial situation; but that situation may just be temporary.
  • Some gifts are given anonymously, so we can’t include them in our data.
  • Only about 25% of our registered families attend weekend Mass. We suspect that the people who don’t attend also don’t give.

God asks us to look at our own giving in relation to the gifts He has given us. He never wants us to give based upon what others do or do not do. Do you remember Jesus’ admonition in Matthew 7:1-2 when He said, “Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged…”

As your understanding of Christian Stewardship grows, you will begin to discover the “need to give” and move away from the feeling that you are just “giving to the needs” of our Church. And with that inspiration, you will come to know and experience the joy of giving that is between you and God and unrelated to what anyone else does.

We welcome your questions or comments! Please email us at stewardship@sjcmmd.org.

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29May16 – What are the results of the Time and Talent Commitments?

More than 225 adults gave us commitment cards, and we are so grateful! Here are some specific numbers:

  • 85 parishioners recommitted to their current ministries, and 73 of these people expressed an interest in joining other ministries.
  • 50 parishioners expressed an interest in learning more about or joining their first ministry.
  • 20 parishioners want to help with four or more ministries, with one person showing an interest in 12 ministries.

Almost everyone committed to giving more time for prayer or additional spiritual development.

The three most popular ministries parishioners want to explore are:

  • Outreach
  • Rosary making
  • Sunday Greeters

Parishioners expressed an interest in more than 80% of our ministries.

Three new ministries will get up and running as a result of parishioner suggestions and leadership:

  • New Parishioner Welcome Ministry
  • Funeral Receptions Ministry
  • Financial Peace University (to teach Bible-based personal finance guidance)

Along with Father Frazier, your Stewardship Ministry is inspired to see how many people are joining us in a Christian Stewardship way of life. Will you join us too?

We welcome your questions or comments! Please email us at stewardship@sjcmmd.org.

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22May16 – Is it important or necessary for me to explain Christian Stewardship to my children?

Yes it is! When parents prepare for a Christian marriage and commit to conceiving and raising children, they also commit to educating their children about our faith. Part of that education involves stewardship.

Do you remember the story about Jesus teaching on the banks of the Sea of Galilee, and asking the apostles if they had any food to feed the large crowd? When they said, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish” (John 6:9), did Jesus say the boy was too young to give? Did he send his apostles out again to find a man instead of a child who could help? No! Jesus turned to the boy. “Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks and distributed them” (John 6:11). With the contribution from one young boy, our Lord fed more than five thousand! How helpful that boy must have felt! Our Lord clearly proved he can make miracles happen even with a small contribution from a young child.

We encourage you to help your children join us on our stewardship journey – to help them learn to be Disciples of Jesus. There are six things you can teach your children about Christian Stewardship:

  • Everything we have is a gift from God.
  • We should be grateful to God and to others for the gifts we receive.
  • We have a responsibility to share our gifts with the poor.
  • We should ask God for guidance in using our gifts.
  • We must understand the difference between a need and a want.
  • True joy comes from helping others.

We’ll offer more support on this topic next month. Until then, if you have questions or comments, please email us at stewardship@sjcmmd.org.

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15May16 – Why are we talking about Christian Stewardship so much now?

While the principles of stewardship originated thousands of years ago in the Old Testament, the discussion of Christian Stewardship was most recently revived in 1992 when the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops published their pastoral letter “Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response.” In that document, the Bishops emphasized how we will grow as disciples by freely sharing of our God-given gifts of time, talent, and treasure with those around us. Since then, parishes nationwide have been teaching about this important topic.

Christian Stewardship is fundamentally important in becoming a true disciple and also a requirement in fulfilling the mission of our parish. We want to help everyone understand that it is so much more than a discussion of giving money or “something that only the Protestants do.” And so we initiated our stewardship series in April with the goal of helping us all more effectively grow as Disciples of Jesus by learning and living out the principles of Christian Stewardship.

Teaching and learning are lifelong endeavors, and our efforts to guide our parish community on this topic will continue well into the future.

Christian Stewardship is a way of life, and we continue to ask “will you join us?”

Questions? Comments? Please email us! stewardship@sjcmmd.org

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08May16 – Finding Balance

Meeting the needs of your family and responding to the call of stewardship can both be achieved when you look very carefully at what you need versus what you want and when you are creative with how you fill your time.

Effective time management happens when we carefully examine each activity that fills our days and ask: “Is this the highest and best use of my time?” By prayerfully doing this, you are likely to find that you can give more to God while still attending to the priority needs of your family and other responsibilities.

For example, working (and along with it, commuting) is a requirement to satisfy family income needs. It is possible to give time to God simultaneously! During your commute, you can pray, say the rosary, or listen to a Catholic radio station.

Chances are, your family is involved in more than one extracurricular activity. Do you consider the importance of each hour you commit to those versus giving that same hour to ministry work or prayer? As Christian parents, we have the responsibility of setting a good example for our families in our decisionmaking. Showing the importance of God in your life by your choices and actions sends a powerful message.

Many people find that when they trust in God and decide to dedicate more of their time and talent to Christian stewardship activities, their lives are more joyful, peaceful, and rewarding.

Questions? Comments? Please email us! stewardship@sjcmmd.org

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01May16 – If I make a commitment of time or talent, what happens next?

First and most importantly, please know how thankful we are for your generosity!

We’ll make a note of your commitments in our parish records: by recording prayer and sacrament commitments, we’ll be able to support you on your discipleship journey through our program offerings; if you are interested in ministry, we’ll share that information with the person leading those ministries so you’ll hear from someone within two weeks. During the follow up, he or she will answer questions and invite you to join in the ministry work on a trial basis. We hope you’ll feel as if the ministry is a good match for your time and talents, but if it turns out not to be, the ministry leader will help you find a ministry better suited to your interests, talents, and schedule. Also, please watch for information later this summer about a special ministry ceremony to take place this autumn during a weekend Mass. And again, thank you for your prayer and consideration in sharing your gifts of time and talent!

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24Apr16 – Isn’t Committing to a Lifestyle of Christian Stewardship Asking a lot?

Yes, it is. Committing to stewardship of time, talent, and treasure is an important part of living as a Disciple of Christ; and Christian Discipleship asks a lot of us and is not always easy. Making a commitment to Christian Stewardship is a particular challenge when the world around us emphasizes materialism, consumerism, and leisure time.

We are called to say “yes” to God and to a way of life He has spelled out for us in the Bible. We are called to say “no” to the influences in our society that emphasize materialistic values that are opposed to stewardship as a way of life. Answering this challenge calls us all to a gradual, ongoing, conversion process. It involves changes of heart, mind, values, budget, spending, calendar planning, and time.

Converting to a stewardship lifestyle is not easy, but it is an important step on the journey of being a Disciple of Christ.

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17Apr16

Why do lay witnesses speak to us during the stewardship series?

Witnessing the importance of stewardship in one’s life is not an easy thing to do for most people. And yet a fellow parishioner sharing a personal story is a powerful message to which we can all relate.

Lay witnesses are not allowed to give the homily during Mass; this is a privilege reserved for someone who is ordained. That is why it is after Communion when Christine Squires shares the experience she and her husband Burke have of giving their time and talent. We encourage you to reflect on their story and their generosity, and to consider if and how you are responding to God’s call. Also today, look for a special page in the bulletin for the stories of several other parishioners who share their time and talent.

Please visit our website Stewardship page for more information and resources, including the Stewardship Corner and the Squires family’s story.

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10Apr16 — You’ll find a full page in today’s bulletin answering the question “How does Christian Stewardship relate to Discipleship and Evangelization?

This weekend is Stewardship Awareness Sunday. In his homily, Deacon Greg talks about the stewardship of time and talent and how as disciples we respond with love and thanksgiving for the gifts God has given to us. The homily will be posted on our website this week.

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03April16

This week’s column is from our Pastor, Father Frazier.

In our Easter bulletin, we dedicated a page to answer the question, “What is Christian Stewardship?” This week, I’d like to answer a follow-up question: “What is a Stewardship Program?”

We’ve never done a true Christian Stewardship Program at St. Joseph’s. We all remember offertory programs inviting financial giving, but we’ve never focused on all aspects of stewardship at once as we are about to do now.

This Stewardship Program will give equal emphasis to your gifts of time, talent, and treasure. Over the next few months, our Campaign will aim to enhance your understanding of Christian Stewardship and the importance of embracing stewardship as a way of life.

Beginning this weekend, we’ll focus on time and talent, and next month, we’ll discuss treasure. Our Stewardship Ministry has developed a variety of resources to educate and inspire you. We’ll ask you to make commitments to prayer, sacraments, and ministry participation, and to pledge financial support that is proportionate to the gifts God has provided to each of you.

If at any time you have questions or comments, please contact parish manager James Mannarino at james@sjcmmd.org or 301.663.0907, x3036.

I believe this program will inspire us all to make stewardship a way of life, which will bring joy and blessings to each of us and to our parish community. I ask you to take a look at all the resources we offer and to keep this program and our parish in your daily prayers.

The Peace and Mercy of the Risen Christ be yours,

Father Frazier

 

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