Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Last Sunday on your behalf I was proud to receive the Murphy Award from the International Catholic Stewardship Conference (ICSC) for being an outstanding parish dedicated to the formation of stewardship. Below are the remarks with which I accepted this award on your behalf – all of you who are good and faithful stewards of St. Francis of Assisi who have embraced stewardship as a way of life.
It is an honor to accept the Murphy Award on behalf of the parishioners of The Catholic Community of St. Francis of Assisi, those faithful men and women, who receive God’s gifts graciously, nurture them responsibly, share them in love and justice and stand accountable before the Lord. Many, many parishioners have been tilling the soil in which the seeds of stewardship were planted long ago by my predecessors, pastors David McBriar and Dan Kenna. This award is a testament to the leadership of them and especially our pastoral staff, Ben Whitehouse and Sue Mathys for their leadership of our stewardship committee, and for all the members of our stewardship committee over the years especially those present including Marybeth Caulfield, Steve Monti, and Diogenes Ruiz.
We are here because our hearts are on fire with Jesus and our disciple’s response is stewardship. What Jesus asks of us and what I believe it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ is to respond to the single most important challenge of discipleship as Jesus exhorts us: “What you receive as a gift, give as a gift.” That’s the heart of stewardship. As disciples we are called to convey the message and in conveying the message, we convey the messenger. And the message is pure gift – the abundance, the incredible generosity, the perfect outpouring of unconditional love that is embodied in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. That’s the message. That’s the messenger. To proclaim the gift we’ve got to be the gift. What we receive as a gift, give as a gift. In that profound truth, that profound insight into the meaning of life, to give is the only way to receive. If we want to find ourselves, give ourselves away.
If we want to receive this gift, give it.
If we want to hear the Gospel, preach it.
If we want to have the kingdom, extend it. The only way we’ll ever hear the Gospel is if we hear it in our own voice. If we want to enter into the kingdom, we’ve got to bring others into the kingdom. If we want the kingdom to break into our life, we’ve got to be the means by which the kingdom breaks into somebody else’s life. What we receive as a gift, give as a gift.
Thank you to the International Catholic Stewardship Conference for this recognition. To all of you who are tilling the soil in your parishes to lead the efforts of stewardship, keep giving the gift away and when the going gets tough, some words of hope from Blessed John XXIII as we prepare to celebrate a Year of Faith on the joint occasion of our (ICSC) 50th anniversary and the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. “Consult not your fears, but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential.
Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.”
In the peace of Christ,