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Stewardship Saint
Saint Margaret of Cortona, February 2018 Stewardship Saint

Margaret of Cortona

Margaret of Cortona is the patron saint of single mothers and the homeless. Her story begins in 1247 in Laviano, Tuscany, where she was born into a farming family. Her mother died when Margaret was seven years old and life with her stepmother was very difficult. At age seventeen, Margaret met a young Tuscan nobleman of Cortona, moved out of the family home, and into the young man’s castle.

Margaret lived as a mistress to the cavalier, who for nine years promised to marry her but never did. In the meantime she gave birth to his son. During this period, Margaret revealed a deep compassion for the poor, and sought out quiet places to pray and ask for the Lord’s guidance to change her station in life.

One day the young cavalier was discovered murdered in a nearby forest. It was an event that shocked Margaret so badly that she left her companion’s castle, gave his gifts and heirlooms to his family and returned to Laviano with her young son.

When Margaret discovered that she was unwelcome in her hometown, she returned to Cortona to seek shelter. She was desperate for herself and her son, and fought the temptation to trade her beauty for a meal and place to stay. She prayed not to give in.

Two women in Cortona, noticing that she was homeless, took her home with them. They introduced her to the Franciscan friars at the Church of San Francesco. Margaret found spiritual solace in the Franciscan way of life. She embraced this life of simplicity, prayer, penance and self-denial. Her devotion to the Eucharist increased as well.

Under the guidance of a Franciscan spiritual director, she established a hospital for the poor and the homeless.

In 1277, three years after her return to Cortona, Margaret became a Franciscan tertiary. She established a congregation of tertiary sisters from which she recruited nurses for the hospital. Her commitment to prayer and her devotions fueled her growing ministry and drew people to her for advice and inspiration.

Margaret’s son would become a Franciscan friar, and Margaret herself would remain in Cortona for the rest of her life, providing hospitality to the homeless and caring for the sick and impoverished. She passed away when she was 50 years old in Cortona, on February 22, 1297. Her feast day is February 22.



If we truly believe, as the New Testament states that “all good giving and every perfect gift” is given to us by our Creator (James 1:17), then everything we have in life—our job, our life, and our bank account is all from God. When we give to our church or to people in need, we are not giving “our money,” we are giving back to God what is his to begin with. Giving then becomes an act of faith because we believe that God will provide for all of our needs. Recurring giving becomes a continual act of faith and worship. All giving draws us closer to God and helps align our hearts to the idea that he is in control of all things and everything is in his hands.



As parishioners make the decision to give to the church, they begin to feel more invested in the direction and spiritual health of the parish. And as they give more frequently and consistently, the act of giving actually becomes an act of worship, putting God first in their lives as they fulfill his mission in their parish. The Book of Matthew tells us that “’where your treasure is, there also will your heart be,’ (Mat 6:21)” and there is no better place for parishioners’ hearts to be than focused on God and the mission of His church. An online giving program not only provides offertory and other giving opportunities, but it will also support event management, i.e, online registration for events/religious education as well as online ticket sales.



Online giving also makes giving convenient and easy for parishioners. Parishioners won’t have to worry about looking for their envelope or checkbook before Mass.

  • Easy as 1, 2, 3 account set-up
  • Flexible giving and recurring donation options
  • Receive convenient parish email communications


Everybody loves a good story. Stories of faith engage listeners differently than a list of facts or good ideas. When people share their faith journey with others, it offers powerful encouragement to both the storyteller and the recipient. I’ve been there too. We’re in this together. Parishes that limit their stewardship discussions to theological discussion and ignore the personal connection will have a difficult time fully engaging everyone. Finding and telling the right story is possible for every parish.


If you ask various parish leaders, good candidates for such a task will usually be clear. Some will jump at the chance! Others will be apprehensive and need encouragement. Some will express fear and should be given more time before sharing publicly. The sharing of one’s faith journey should be an uplifting exercise for the writer and an encouragement to the reader. Anyone who doesn’t agree freely to write about himself or herself should be respected.


Once you’ve determined who will write, make sure you’re asking the right questions. Invite the writers to share how parish events or ministries have affected their lives in a specific way. For example:

  • How did the parish retreat help you grow in your faith?
  • You’ve been volunteering for the soup kitchen for a long time. What effect has that had on you?
  • How have you changed over the years as a result of being a lector at Mass?

If the crux of someone’s story lies outside of parish life, ask them to hone in on the main story. For example:

  • How has battling cancer tested and strengthened your faith?
  • How has your relationship with God changed as a result of your time in the military?
  • What have you learned about your family through the experience of adoption?


When it comes to the actual writing, the key to an effective testimony is economy of words. A piece that offers too much information takes too long to read. A writer over-sharing can have the opposite of the desired effect.

Because testimonies can be so powerful and moving, caution must be exercised. A person’s story must be respected, but a good editor has the responsibility to edit something that might be hurtful or offensive to others. The audience for testimonials can be very diverse. All possibilities of negative reaction should be taken into account. This is usually not a problem, but sometimes a person will say something that does not enrich the community and can have a negative effect.

Any stewardship campaign or process of increasing engagement can be enriched by the story of a lay witness. Offering these testimonies in your bulletin or parish newsletter can reach everyone on your mailing list, including those who are homebound or those who have drifted away from regular Mass attendance. Personal testimonies invite everyone to discover faithful stewardship as a matter that relates not to their wallet, but to their hearts.

“Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.” (Pope Paul VI, Evangelization in the Modern World 41)