This weekend is Stewardship Sunday, a chance to consider all the gifts we have and how we may use them to help our parish and one another. In our Festival of Ministries we have the opportunity to consider new ways of being active in the parish that we hadn’t before, but it also gives us the opportunity to get to know a different group of people then we may have before, and also realize we are taking the risk of being identified and recognized in the parish in a different way. I can speak a bit from my own experience at a parish before entering the seminary.
I owned a house in a parish with a school and started getting active in the parish when we were having a new church built and gutting the old church building to be a parish hall and classrooms. Gutting the old church started with simple things like pulling out all the pews, and then pulling up the floor tiling. A few of the nights we had a good number of people working on it, others we just had three or four of us who I got to know pretty well. One of them ended up getting me to go on a retreat one weekend with a group of other men from the parish that went the same weekend every year. I have to admit being in my 20’s at the time I brought the average age of that group down a bit, but they didn’t hold it against me. In addition to the benefits of the retreat, that I continued going on with them for many years, I also got to know a variety of people from the parish. Working on the church building I also got to know the associate priest there at the time because he would often come around and see how we were doing.
Eventually one of those I had gotten to know convinced me to be an usher with him on Sundays. Since I normally went to that Mass anyway this was a lot less time and work commitment than the rehab work I was involved with in the parish, but it was also a lot more public. I began to recognize more people in the parish, and they began to recognize me too. I have to admit many would ask who were my kids and where was my wife, figuring that I must be married with kids in the school if I was active in the parish. As I taught them and have seen from many in all the parishes I have been at, that isn’t always the case, and we each have individual histories and situations that have brought us to where we are.
I have to admit, I started getting asked to be involved in numerous other things. Some I did, others I passed on, but I knew that not only was I helping at the parish, but I also felt I was a real part of the parish and the Church in a way that I hadn’t been before, in a way that I was missing before. Consider some of the different ministries here at St. Joe’s, who knows how you can help, and how it can help you.