As Christians, we have a purpose and mission in our lives. Jesus Christ Himself gave us our mission, which is succinctly embodied in the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. Much of it can be described in two thoughts:
Make all persons disciples of Jesus.
Help each other become better disciples.
Our Catholic Christian faith teaches us that there are four primary aspects of discipleship, the most important of which is Stewardship. On the path to full discipleship, Jesus exhorts us to be good stewards of all that God has given us.
What is Stewardship? Many of us associate this word with money, but this is far too narrow and misleading a view of it. Our Stewardship Council at St. Bridget has chosen to adopt the following definition, together with five important characteristics which emphasize both the personal and communal aspects of Stewardship:
Stewardship is the grateful response of a Christian disciple who recognizes and receives God’s gifts and shares these gifts in love of God and neighbor.
Characteristics of Good Stewardship:
Gratitude: Stewardship is living a life of gratitude – taking the time every day to recognize the gifts that God has given and to be grateful for them.
Transformation: Stewardship is transformative. Once we embrace the stewardship message it changes the way we look at every decision we make. Stewardship becomes a total way of life.
Sharing Talent: Stewardship involves sharing talent. Recognizing that God has given each individual unique skills and talents so that together we can do the work of Our Lord, we strive to share our own talents and to encourage and welcome others to also use their talents to carry out the mission and ministry of the Church.
Trust in God: Stewardship is trusting God. We believe that our generous God will always provide for us. None of us will ever have all that we want, but we will always have all that we need.
Accountability: Stewardship calls us to recognize that just as in the Parable of the Talents, each of us will someday be asked by God to give an accounting of all that we have done with the gifts that have been given to us. Likewise, parish communities that embrace stewardship must be accountable to the community for the way in which the parish uses the gifts entrusted to it.
"As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God's varied grace." 1 Peter 4:10
To assist each person and organization in our parish to become better Stewards, our Stewardship Council has adopted the following mission statement, which is also an action plan:
STEWARDSHIP COUNCIL MISSION STATEMENT
To help the Catholic community of St. Bridget grow as disciples of Christ, the Stewardship Council will:
Educate parishioners to practice Stewardship as a way of life.
Promote the importance of joyfully sharing our time, talent and treasure.
Help develop a sense of ownership and community in the parish.
Encourage parishioners to share their gifts joyfully with all of God's people
If you are a baptized Christian, we invite you to join us in becoming better disciples by becoming dedicated Stewards; if you are not yet baptized, we invite you to consider taking that step and joining us on the journey to becoming better disciples of Jesus Christ through the practice of Stewardship.
How do we become better Stewards?
To become good stewards, we need to start by assessing our own priorities in life in view of our call to discipleship.
Traditionally, the practice of stewardship has been broken down into three major subcategories:
Stewardship of TIME
Stewardship of TALENT
Stewardship of TREASURE
The “Time” God gives us on earth is limited, unpredictable, and fleeting. Good caretakers recognize time as a blessing from God, are grateful for their very precious gift, and with their open hearts willingly share part of these limited moments with others and in thankful prayer.
“Talent” embraces those natural gifts we inherit at birth but also all the formation, training and experience we bring to the present moment. Sharing them with others through worship, ministry and evangelization understandably requires a donation of our time, but the emphasis on talent adds a unique dimension to this aspect of good caretaking. Study the list of St. Bridget ministries and organizations and discern where your unique talents fit in, but be sure to follow through in some of these areas because true stewardship requires doing.
“Treasure” refers to the financial resources we have at our disposal, from whatever source. Good caretakers have open hearts willing to give a sacrificial part of their income for building up the church and helping the poor. Stewardship is based on an individual’s need to give, not on the Church’s need to receive.
The Second Vatican Council, in its 1965 Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, held that “It is for Christians a duty and an honor to give back to God a portion of the goods they have received from Him.” Good stewards possess faith, gratitude and an openness of heart, an openness which shares a portion of their time, talent and treasure for building up the church and making this a better world.
Faithful and fruitful individuals and organizations not only focus on becoming good stewards, but also recognize and reinforce when they are doing so.