From the Gospel of Mark :
And Jesus sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.”
Doing God’s work is not for the faint of heart. Look at the outcome for Jesus’ apostles. All but one were martyred.
James was killed by the sword of Herod; Peter, Andrew, and Bartholomew were all crucified; Philip was tortured and then crucified; Thomas was speared and then burned alive; Matthew was beheaded.
When we registered at our parishes and chose to engage in the ministry offered by our Catholic schools, as employees and/or parents, we signed up for a life of self-sacrifice through stewardship, and that looks different for each one of us. We do not worry about being crucified, burned alive, or beheaded because we are advancing God's Kingdom on earth. We are fortunate to live in a country that allows us to express our faith without fear of death, so let’s count our blessings that we live in the time that we do and recognize that it is hard work.
Much like the analogy of holding a glass of water—if we hold it for just a short time, it is not a problem. If we hold it for an hour, it causes an ache; if we hold it for a day, it is extremely painful. Living a life of self-sacrifice and stewardship is hard because it never ends. At the end of our journey here on earth, we will be judged by God. In Jean Ross’ wisdom she said, “When God measures a person, He puts the tape around his heart, not his head or purse.” As the Gospel reading explained, it isn’t about the amount as much as it is the attitude and personal sacrifice.
I bring this all up because I have been involved in a number of conversations revolving around the demands stewardship puts on parents. Stewardship fundraising is tough—we need ongoing donations for projects, food, gifts of time preparing, serving, cleaning, and tear down…we ask for time and energy organizing, planning, and leading...we ask you to sell and deliver items...we ask you to reach out to your family members for support...not to mention the money we spend to support the events. The outcome of all of this is much greater than the dollar figure by which we often measure it.
We build our school and faith community through the fellowship of our school events. We invite guests into our building and through this hospitality we evangelize and spread our faith. We create experiences for our children that provide positive and happy memories of their elementary school experience. We support the mission of our school to educate children in their faith to be "Christ to One Another," and we provide an exceptional academic program. As a school built on stewardship we do not have to charge the $4500 per student per year in tuition. By all of us coming together as stewards we make the ministry of our Catholic school an option regardless of the financial means of the students and their families.
Stewardship is not easy, but we believe it is better. We could go to a tuition model, but that is not the direction we want to go. We lose out on the fellowship of stewards in our community of faith.
As a parishioner, parent, staff member, and administrator, I get it! We are tapped out by the time we get finished with the big fundraising events and at the end of the school year, and all the steps leading up to it, but when I look at what I get as a parent for my efforts—my kids’ faith-based outstanding education—it is worth the effort. It is a lot easier than paying $450 per child per month for 10 months. It should also be noted that this cost is minimized because of your gifts of time and talent. Those gifts help us keep the cost of education down. Do not underestimate those gifts of time and talent organizing and serving day in and day out.
I want you to all know how much I appreciate your efforts—parents and staff alike. If I have said it once, I have said it a hundred times since I came to Holy Family in 2012, our parents and staff are second to none, and I mean that with all sincerity. You all truly believe in the mission that we are trying to accomplish at Holy Family, and with all of us working together, we can’t fail. Your efforts are much greater than the sum of the individual parts. We often judge the success of our efforts by the bottom line, the dollar amount—whether it is more or less than the previous year.
Each year our goals are set a little higher than previous years and they are harder to attain, especially when our economy is unstable. As an administrator, it is my job to see the bigger picture. I listen to many of you share your concerns, ideas, and suggestions, and I have to look at the picture as a whole. What often looks like a simple fix in one area has a ripple effect to other areas that others are not aware. I often describe this as keeping ‘all the plates spinning.’
I so appreciate all the passion to meet the goal established by the budget line items. We are not like a normal school--the fundraising is not surplus for extra projects. This is how we make ends meet. Here is the bottom line, if we do not make the established goals, it is my problem to deal with along with all of my trusted advisers—my leadership team, school advisory council, finance and development council, and school pastor. Because we are a stewardship school, I believe wholeheartedly in God’s Divine Providence for our school He bestows blessings on us daily through all of staff, parents and supporters! If we are short in one area, it will be made up somewhere else. This doesn’t mean that I just sit back and wait, I actively work toward it, but all will come in God’s good timing.
As one can see, doing God’s work is not for the faint of heart. It requires ongoing self-sacrifice and absolute faith and trust in God’s Will for our school. These are not qualities that are highly revered in our culture of control and self-centeredness. It goes against everything that we are bombarded with each day. In the end, we are advancing His kingdom through our efforts, and there is no greater reason for what we do. So, thank you, from the bottom of my heart for the gifts of time, talent, and treasure offered by all our school supporters throughout the school year.