Stewardship is a word that I used to equate with other Christian faiths. But, the reality is that it is very much a part of our Catholic faith. God calls us to be active members of our community and being a good steward is part of being a member of the community.
Some people like to break up stewardship into three main categories ~ time, talent and treasure. We are called to be giving in all three areas, although there might be times when one seems to have more ‘activity’ than the others.
For now, I wanted to tackle the easiest of the three: time.
I say the easiest as so many of us are willing to spare a few minutes here and there to help out. However, there could be a season in your life when time is in short supply and it feels like more of a sacrifice to give it up.
Having lived in several different states where I have experienced a variety of parishes, this aspect of stewardship can look quite different. Anytime I joined a ministry (e.g. family life), I gave of my time to attend meetings or to help bring an event to fruition.
Spending my time at those meetings or as a helper at an event meant that I was giving up the opportunity to spend time in another fashion. Yet, I typically feel more fulfilled as a person by making this sacrifice. Balance is key, though, as there are still needs that need to be met within my own family. Volunteering in any capacity is a great example for your children to witness and if they are old enough they can join in the volunteer efforts, too.
The past two years have shown me just how important a gift of time can be to a parish. Alaska seems to be unique compared to other places where we’ve lived. Our parish is ‘church poor’ having built a structure that is probably the largest Catholic Church in the state with seating for just over 1000 people. The older cathedral in Anchorage seats only a fraction of that number. Whether building a large church was the best choice at the time is ancient history now. The parish is now laden with financial debt that has meant staffing is quite minimal for the size of the parish. Not counting our pastor, there is the equivalent of at most 2.5 full time staff members.
So how does our parish not only survive, but thrive as a beacon in the community?
Many of the parishioners have decided to be good stewards and step up to the plate. I see this most evident in the gift of time. Not only do we have several ministries that are run by volunteers, we have what would be considered paid staff positions being filled by volunteers.
When our pastor came to the parish, one of his former parishioners heard of the need for help and decided to come and fill multiple roles to lighten his burden. She assists as needed and has taken over a previously paid position to cover stewardship at the parish. Unlike our last two parishes, there is no paid music minister with four different individuals leading the four different choirs that cover our full Mass schedule.
The arena at our parish where I am amazed at how many people give of their time is in maintenance. We have no janitor or maintenance staff. Everything is cleaned by parishioners and when something breaks or acts up it is often a parishioner that fixes it. There are times when someone is called in to tackle a job, e.g. dumping gravel around the parking lot this winter to provide traction.
Several parishioners stepped up to take an hour of each week to be an adorer in the chapel so that the parish could finally have perpetual adoration. There is literally nothing beyond your gift of time when you commit to spending an hour each week with our Lord present in the Blessed Sacrament. I’d even say that the gift is usually returned to you multiplied through the graces received. Many a time I have gone and found inspiration or clarity for an issue in my life, even if it has been the message that I need to spend more quiet time with Him.
Check back later for more stewardship articles as I tackle talent and treasure, too.
Growing up as one of three sisters, Laura is continually challenged as she mothers four rambunctious boys. She shares her adventure as a Catholic homeschooling mother to four boys and life up in Alaska at the family blog, Day by Day in Our World. When she isn’t teaching the boys, trying to clean her house, on an adventure or blogging, you can find her hanging out on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.