Fifteen years ago, a doctor encouraged me to explore my genealogy for genetic reasons. Despite thinking this could be risky and a lot of work, I began to do the research and embarked on a historical journey that, to this day, I greatly treasure. While some discoveries thought to be forgotten and buried, the genealogical search gave me the story of a people that intersected at some point in time, became my family, my story, and my history. I have never regretted the work, to find the facts, the names, and the circumstances that now defines us as family.
Several years ago, I began to think in the same terms about our parish family here at my parish, St. John the Apostle Church in Minot, N.D.. I wondered about the “charter members” of this parish that generously offered time, talent and treasure to establish our parish family, develop it, sustain it, and to this very moment in our history, continue its growth and continue the stewardship way of life that launched us and continues to help us thrive. Just as in every family, seasons come and go, celebrations occur, gatherings happen, the care and repair any household requires has taken place throughout our history, we look to the future of our parish family with hope and enthusiasm. It didn’t take long for me to realize our “birth” as a stewardship parish occurred at the moment people became interested in establishing the parish. We owe a great deal to those “charter members.” They are a significant part of our history just as any genealogical story identifies the names of those who “intersected” with others for form any family.
It was tempting to identify the beginning of our stewardship efforts as the moment in our history when we began to call ourselves a “stewardship parish.” I used to think it began in 2005 when we voted and agreed to call ourselves a “stewardship parish.” But, in reality, St. John’s stewardship efforts began when the parish began, over 50 years ago. I suppose, if the term “stewardship” was used back then, most of the parishioners thought about fundraising to build a facility to house the newly formed parish. Today, when the term “stewardship” is used it refers to a spirituality, a way of life, that defines our parish family as disciples still using time, talent and treasure, not only in the parish setting, but at home, work, school and everywhere they go.
The history of your parish is also being written as you read this. There are ministries offered that many have volunteered for to be involved in the parish life. The prayer life of people continues to nurture the parish, the individual and the community. The stewardship way of life is more than just a part of the story of your parish. It should be the most “active” part of your spirituality.
When looking up the meaning of genealogy, the definition found in “Wikipedia” reminds us, “The pursuit of family history tends to be shaped by several motivations, including the desire to carve out a place for one’s family in the larger historical picture, a sense of responsibility to preserve the past for future generations, and a sense of self-satisfaction in accurate storytelling.”
Any stewardship parish is part of a larger picture that places us in a diocese, a country, a Universal Church. We have a responsibility to the future generations of the Church, especially our youth. Our story is not only accurate according to the Sacred Scriptures, but also inspires others when they hear it. As a stewardship parish, your “genealogy” hopefully will continue to serve your community and beyond, nurture your faith and inspire your future. Are you being a part of your parish genealogy and a part of your parish family?