When I first came to work for SS. Peter and Paul parish they had just established a Stewardship Committee. I was delighted to be a part of a parish that valued Stewardship. At our first meeting we began to talk about ways in which we could engage our parishioners to live stewardship as a way of life. Someone suggested that we offer a study group on what it means to be a true Steward of the gifts that God has given us. We discussed the concept of a formal pledge drive and “first fruits.” The enthusiasm and energy around the table was something to behold. One member began to talk about our Service Committee. There were people in the parish who had been giving of their time and talent to certain Service opportunities for years. Another member shared a story of a husband and wife team who chaired the Annual Parish Festival for many years. There was the story of the young mother who agreed to carve time out of her busy schedule to serve on Parish Council. As these stories began to pour forth, it became apparent that we had people in our parish who, even though they might not recognize it, were living as faithful stewards. They were beautiful examples of how we can share the gifts that God has entrusted to our care with one another! The Holy Spirit was definitely at work within our committee. We began to brainstorm ways in which we could share these stories with our parish and use them to demonstrate ways to live out one’s faith. After many meetings and much discussion we decided to honor these marvelous individuals in several ways;Once a year we would ask the parishioners to nominate a “STEWARD of the YEAR.” We created guidelines and a nomination form that would be included in the bulletin and on our website. The person who received the most nominations would be honored as “Steward of the Year.” Our first year was very interesting as the nominees were all terrific! In order to show appreciation to all individuals who were nominated we came up with another category – “Disciples of Christ.” This was similar to an “Honorable Mention” award. After our second year, we noticed that there were individuals in our parish community who showed a dedication to a particular ministry for many years. We wanted to honor them and came up with another award which we titled, “The Heart of Christ” award. All of these awards are now presented at our annual “Volunteer Appreciation “breakfast. This exercise in gratitude and recognition of service culminated in the creation of the “Lifetime Stewardship Award”, established to honor individuals who have given a lifetime of service to our parish, our neighborhood and if possible to the global community. Because this was such a special achievement we interview each recipient and then write up a “bio” of sorts to be read when the award is presented. This award is presented at our Annual Parish Feast Day celebration. A plaque memorializing the “Lifetime Stewardship” award recipients hangs in a prominent spot in our church gathering area. It is amazing how the Holy Spirit works! What started out to be a brainstorming session on ways in which we could encourage parishioners to live a stewardship life quickly morphed into a brain storming session on ways in which we could share the stories of these amazing people who were living a stewardship life!
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