Solon parish promotes stewardship

Catholics at a music ministry table participate in a Stewardship Fair at St. Mary Parish in Solon earlier this fall.

SOLON – The role of stewardship took on many faces this fall, leading up to the first Stewardship Fair Oct. 20-21 at St. Mary Catholic Church.
Parishioners could stop by the parish nurse’s booth and have their blood pressure checked. They could pause at the Knights of Columbus table and learn about service opportunities and projects offered. Helping Hands, Finance Council, Justice & Peace and a dozen other commissions and programs offered a glimpse of themselves, so parishioners could determine their “fit” in the parish — how to become stewards in faith.
When first asked to lead the Stewardship Team, Bill Christensen thought, “I really don’t know anything about stewardship.” Once involved, though, it became obvious.
“Stewardship is totally about giving back to God what he has so generously given to us. We have an inherent need to give,” he says. “The impetus is to lay an initial foundation for a stewardship way of life.”
That outreach was many-faceted. Notices went into the weekly bulletin with a focus on ecology, accountability and legacy. Father James Vrba, St. Mary’s pastor, offered verbal reminders each week at Mass. Home mailings — with time and talent brochures — invited parishioners to walk through the fair after weekend Masses.
Another approach sent parishioners to the pulpit to share personal stories about what stewardship means to them and to ask friends and neighbors to get involved, too. “It was uncomfortable in a way because I was laying out my personal beliefs (about the environment); not just reading what was written on paper for me,” admitted Stewardship Team member Joe Wilkinson. “But as I worked on my presentation, I realized the environment IS something the Bible urges us to protect and pass along to future generations. That is my form of stewardship.”
After Masses that weekend, parishioners were pointed toward the Parish Hall for a taste of stewardship. Knights of Columbus served pancakes and sausage to entice attendance and offer an opportunity for people to talk with volunteers and look over the dozen booths around the room.
Coming out of the stewardship weekend, the committee had in hand time and talent forms from 10 percent of St. Mary’s parishioners. People tending reminder tables over the next couple weeks hoped to push that up to 20 percent. “Overall, our goal is to get a response from each individual in the parish,” Christensen explains. “It’s a lofty goal, but we need the entire parish involved. Yes, there are people doing things for the parish. However, we really need more involvement.”
What to avoid? “People who think they have things covered, who just say, ‘I don’t have anything more to offer.’ Everyone can offer something back to their church family. Even a time commitment of 15 minutes of daily prayer or reading God’s Word will make a major impact,” Christensen challenges. “Don’t just say you will. Fill out a commitment form. Offer it to God — and then keep your commitment.”
The stewardship team hopes people will realize they have been gifted by God to do great things. From there, the team will try to match each member’s time, talents and treasure to enhance the needs of the parish.
A successful end to the stewardship campaign will actually be a new beginning. As one of the bulletins stressed, “Perhaps we begin to see stewardship as a way of life, rather than just a word.”

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