What does it mean to be a Stewardship parish?
In common language, "stewardship" simply means taking good care of one's belongings. But at St. Mary on the Hill, when we talk about stewardship, we mean something more than that. As Christians, we believe that humans don't really own anything, per se. God has created all things; everything we "own" is really "on loan" from God. From this perspective, then, stewardship means taking care of God's gifts.
And everything that God has given us — special skills, a nice smile, a good income — is meant not only for us, but for others as well. As strange as it seems, being a good steward of these gifts involves giving them away. As we learn from Jesus' life, self-giving is the road to true happiness.
And so, at St. Mary's, we seek to share of our gifts of Time, Talent and Treasure…
Stewardship of Time - Prayer
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, "Prayer and Christian life are inseparable.” In fact, St. Paul tells us to “pray constantly.” But as anyone who has ever tried to pray on a regular basis will tell you, prayer can be hard work. That is why we have to make a firm commitment to be persistent. Just as we learn to budget our money or schedule occasions for service, we also have to be very specific when we make time for prayer. Many people set aside 30 minutes in the morning to sip a cup of coffee and read Scripture. Others pray a rosary on the way to work. Still others pray with children before bedtime, or pray with their spouse before retiring for the evening. Whatever the format, the important thing is that we make a conscious effort to spend time with the One we love most.
Stewardship of Talent – Ministry involvement
With hectic work schedules and family life, we all need time to relax and exercise — but we also need to rejuvenate ourselves through service. Reaching out in love to others, while sometimes difficult, is nonetheless spiritually enriching. In fact, it is a necessary part of the Christian life. Right here at St. Mary's, there are over 100 different ways you can serve others through parish ministries.
Stewardship of Treasure – Financial Support
Treasure is certainly the most misunderstood aspect of stewardship. Like any family, St. Mary’s has many expenses. But stewardship is not about asking for financial support to meet expenses. We are asked to give to God from our first fruits, not because collections are down, or because utility bills are high…but because we want to…out of faith…out of thanks. Stewardship calls us to do more for God by doing more for our parish.
It is the true challenge of Catholics to make an offering that symbolically and in actuality expresses God’s place in your life. Most of us find this the most challenging part of stewardship, because although we know it to be true, it can be hard to live. At St. Mary’s, families are asked to work toward giving eight percent of their income to the parish. Stewardship challenges us to build our parish, so we might build the kingdom of God.
In conclusion, Stewardship is a completely different way of life for many people, but here at St. Mary on the Hill Church, Stewardship is Discipleship, living out the Gospel the way Jesus encouraged us to do.