Editor’s Note: Today we welcome a new contributor to The Catholic Steward, Fr. Jim Golka. Fr. Jim is the pastor of St Patrick’s Catholic Church in North Platte, Neb., and has been committed to developing stewardship there since 2006. Ordained for the Diocese of Grand Island in 1994, Fr. Jim has served as an associate pastor and pastor, becoming pastor of St. Patrick’s in 2006. A highlighted speaker at the Msgr. McGread Stewardship Conference in Wichita, Kan., multiple times, Fr. Jim has a wealth of practical experience and insight in deepening the spirituality of parishioners through stewardship.
A few years ago at my parish, St. Patrick’s in North Platte, Neb., we dedicated a new stained glass window in our church. To find the window, you need to go to the staircase leading up to our choir loft. The window depicts a legend from the life of St. Patrick. When Patrick was a new bishop, he went to Armagh, Ireland, to lay out the design for a new church. When he approached the site, he encountered a doe with her fawn. Patrick’s companions wanted to kill the animals for food. Patrick carried the animals to a neighboring hillside and let them go free. Patrick proclaimed that future glory to God would be given on that site. In 1904, the present Cathedral of Armagh was constructed upon that very site thus bearing forth Patrick’s prediction. Our stained glass window depicts a doe sitting in a church to remember this story.
The window came to us because of a simple act by one of our parishioners. A woman approached me and told me that there was a need in the church that she could help with. She informed me that one of our windows was lacking a stained glass image. She told me that her family would pay for the window if we found a suitable image. I joked back to her that she would be spending her family’s inheritance. She told me that the church was part of her family.
Stewardship is a verb more than it is a noun
This parishioner’s actions reminded me of another family from our parish whose mother passed away. The deceased mother had many children. When I met with the family to plan the funeral, I heard a wonderful story. Years before, when the parents made up their last will and testament, they decided to count their parish as one of their children. They decided to divide their inheritance equally between all of their children — including the parish. In fact, whenever one of the children got in trouble, the parents would threaten to give their share to the church! One month after the funeral, the family proudly carried a check into the church offices. There was great joy in their giving.
Stewardship is a way of living – not just believing
Not long ago, another woman came to me with an offer. She told me that she was not able to give any money to the collection basket because of her own financial troubles. She then smiled and told me that even though she did not have money, she did have time and talent. She told me that she had heard we needed help in cleaning the Youth Center. She offered to clean the building weekly so that it would be suitable for our Religious Education classes. This would be her contribution.
Stewardship must be lived out in specific actions.
What can you do?