This reflection was written by Leisa Anslinger, a nationally recognized speaker and resource on Stewardship. While Leisa wrote this article aimed mostly at ministry and team leaders of the parish, I thought it was valuable on a personal level as well.
I would also hope that, as you read through these thoughts, you can reflect on what is being offered to you as a parishioner of St. Mary, Star of the Sea. (Annual Covenant with God to help you on your faith journey, weekly Congregational Stewardship Prayer, weekly reflections on living Stewardship in your everyday life in the bulletin’s Barbie’s Corner, seasonal resource books.)
Our parish has an active Stewardship Team made up of members of our English-speaking and Spanish-speaking communities and we are always cognizant of the cultural differences when creating a new tool. If you feel that you have something to offer, you are most welcome to visit a Team Meeting.
Turning the page to a new year offers us the opportunity to review time that has passed and to look forward to newness of life and ministry in the year to come.
As individuals, we recognize our many blessings, give thanks for God’s merciful love, and re-commit ourselves to living as disciples and stewards, with resolutions to solidify our commitment to Christ and one another.
In our parish, we can do the same: look back on the year that has just passed while looking toward the one to come. While the reflection itself may lead to enhanced pastoral life, a more focused examination of past and current practice will be great fruit.
I suggest we do so by using the phrase Curt Liesveld coined in directing people’s reflection of and building upon their God-given talents: name it, claim it, aim it!
Name it: In what ways has your parish helped people to understand the meaning and spiritual underpinnings of stewardship as a way of life? What annual rhythm of stewardship education, lay witnesses, homily connections, and invitation to commitment has been established? How do you help people recognize stewardship as a disciple’s response, by pointing their attention to Christ’s way of self-giving love?
Claim it: List the practices you already have in place. Where is there room for growth? Are there aspects of your stewardship formation that have become stale or have never quite taken hold? What might you learn from effective practices, yours or someone else’s, in order to address these areas of potential growth?
Aim it: Gather your parish advisory group (committee, commission, task group) to reflect and discuss. Invite members to tell their stories of stewardship insights and challenges in living as a disciple and steward.
Together, give thanks to God for what has been, and ask for guidance, insight, blessing and strength as you discern future possibilities; celebrate the year that has been; acknowledge the gaps or areas in need of attention; plan new or enhanced strategies for calling people to grow as good stewards in the year that is just beginning. Our parish will grow in response to God’s grace and blessing and you and all with whom you minister will grow as servant leaders, stewards of the mysteries of God.