Stewardship at St. Vincent de Paul Parish adheres to a number of principles as follows:
- Stewardship is a way of life.
- It promotes tithing and the need to give before giving to a need.
- It has biblical foundation and is supported by the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote their best-selling 1992 pastoral letter, “Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response.”
- It is a means to an end, and that end is evangelization.
Stewardship is a way of life
Stewardship is not about money! Does it involve money? Sure it does! Money is an important fact of life. Even Jesus talked about money more than any other subject in the Bible. Rather, stewardship is a life of thanksgiving for all of God’s blessing by:
- Making time for God in prayer and worship
- Sharing our time and talent for the common good
- Nurturing our faith in order share it with others
- Giving of our treasure cheerfully
- Promoting vocations for the abundant harvest
- Preserving, and taking care of, the earth for our generation and the next.
Thus, at St. Vincent de Paul Parish we promote the following phases of stewardship to help parishioners embrace stewardship as a way of life:
- Stewardship of Time
- Stewardship of Talent
- Stewardship of Faith
- Stewardship of Treasure
- Stewardship of Vocations
- Stewardship of the Earth
Stewardship is a Spirituality
Father Andrew Kemberling often emphasizes that stewardship is a spirituality. He describes spirituality as doing versus thinking. It is not about dogmas or theology. Rather, stewardship is about a set of practices: what to do, when to do it, how to do it. To give depth to the common understanding of time, talent, and treasure, Father Andrew has developed his teaching on the four core values of stewardship–identity, trust, gratitude, and love.
Here’s a brief overview of Father Andrew’s four core values of stewardship.
- Identity: We are God’s children. That’s our identity. We know this from Genesis 1:27: “God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them.” The Catechism states: “man is created by God and for God, and God never ceases to draw man to himself.”
- Trust: If we are God’s children who are destined to return to God, we can trust that God will provide for all our needs. We need not worry about anything. Conversely, we also need to be trustworthy and honest in everything we do and entrusted to us. We need to be worthy of God’s trust. As St. Paul says, “Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they should be found trustworthy.” (1 Corinthians 4:1-2).
- Gratitude: God is the source of everything we are and have. We will not exist without Him. We need, therefore, to be grateful. “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his kindness endures forever.” (1 Chronicles 16:34). Jesus is our model of gratitude. He gave thanks always. Father Andrew suggests making a “thank-God” list. This way we think more of what we have and not what we do not have.
- Love: God loves us first. He created us in His image, then when we sinned, He sent us his only Son to redeem us, and the Holy Spirit to sanctify us so that we can return to Him and see Him face to face in heaven. That’s how much God loves us. Now we need to return His love by loving Him back. The act of love requires that we give. We express our love by giving of our time, talent and treasure.
Tithing means to give God the first and the best. In tithing we recognize that:
- God is the owner, and we are only the managers of his treasure.
- We give back ten percent –– a tithe –– the first and the best of what we have including our time, talent, and treasure.
- A tithe is not a leftover or table droppings.
- It is the best portion, the first portion.
- It is a sign of our love to give the first and the best to God.
Stewardship promotes the need to give before giving to a need
Father Andrew’s four core values of stewardship gives us reasons why we have a need to give. Our need to give comes from a meaningful relationship with God, borne from the fact that God who first loved us, created us and provides for us. In turn we love Him back and express our love by giving back our time, talent and treasure.
In fact, the need to give is a very human experience.
Let’s take the example of a child who depends a great deal on his or her parents — for food, shelter, and most of all, love. In turn, the child shows his or her love through simple expressions of affection –– blowing a kiss, bringing in a flower from the back yard, or a simple hug. In adulthood, however, we express our love of God by giving of our time, talent, and treasure.
I still remember one afternoon waiting for my son, Kevin, to come home from school. Stepping out of the school bus, Kevin noticed a bright yellow dandelion, and without hesitation, he picked it up and ran toward me with it. Then, stretching out his arms to offer his gift to me and giving me a hug, he said, “I love you, Mommy.”
Do I have a need for the dandelion? Of course not… although I have heard some people actually put them in salads! My son’s gesture is a prime example of the need to give. Kevin wanted to express his love for me by giving me a dandelion.
Stewardship has biblical foundation and is supported by the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Stewardship is a means to an end, and that end is evangelization.