This is my fourth year as Pastor and fourth Fall Festival at St. Anthony Catholic Church and School and I thank you, Christ’s Faithful, for your commitment and generous contribution to the Church. We have a great school community and our parental involvement directly benefits our children and the entire community of St. Anthony Parish, Columbus. In fact, I can say with strong conviction, that many parishioners of St. Anthony Catholic Church have embraced the message of stewardship released in a pastoral letter by U.S. Catholic Bishops in 1992 entitled “Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response.” The Bishops described a Christian steward as one who:
-Receives God’s gift gratefully
-Cherishes and tends those gifts responsibly
-Shares their gifts in justice and love
-And returns those gifts to God.
Sharing our gifts and returning them to God means giving generously of our time, talents and treasure. We give to God by sharing with our church and with those in need. Time and talent can be shared by becoming involved in parish life, volunteering and offering a helping hand. Your treasure can be shared by making a conscience effort to make a financial gift to God first, before we pay the bills and buy the things we want. When we give to God only after all of our personal spending is done, we end up throwing Him the loose change or having nothing left at all to give. When we give to God first, we are making a gift of faith, trusting that God will provide for our needs. We are truly giving God the “first fruits” just as God asked us to do in the Bible.
Stewardship is often a foreign concept in our consumer-oriented society. However, it was through stewardship that our forefathers built up the St. Anthony Church and School that we have today.
In fact, many parishioners of St. Anthony Catholic Church have accepted the message of stewardship as a way of life. Centered on the Sunday Eucharist, they spend time in prayer thanking God for the blessings bestowed on them. Committed to parish life, they give a portion of their time and talent in service to the parish community. Trusting that God will provide their needs, they share a generous portion of their treasure, providing financial means for the parish to carry out its mission. Because of stewardship, St. Anthony can offer a wide variety of services, including a Catholic elementary school in Columbus, Texas, CCE, a High School Youth Program, English classes for Spanish speaking parents, Bible studies, and much more.
At this juncture, one may ask, “How is the Church built up?” In a sense, there are as many answers to that question as there are individual members with individual vocations. But the overarching answer for all is this: through personal participation in and support of the church’s mission of proclaiming and teaching, serving and sanctifying.
This participation takes different forms according to people’s different gifts and offices, but there is a fundamental obligation arising from the sacrament of Baptism (cf. Pope John Paul II, Christifideles Laici, no. 15): that people place their gifts, their resources, their selves at God’s service in and through the Church. Here, also, Jesus is the model. Even though His perfect self-emptying is unique, it is within the power of disciples, and a duty, that they be generous stewards of the Church, giving freely of their time, talent and treasure. Consider this: Paul says addressing not only the Christians of Corinth, but all of us: “Whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully . . . God loves a cheerful giver,” (2 Cor 9: 6-7).
Thank you for your generous giving and for the success of our Parish Picnic, 2014.
Fr. Augustine Asante
(Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response, A Pastoral Letter on Stewarship; United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2002
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