Good evening/morning! My name is Jennifer Riter. While I am no longer a parishioner of Blessed Sacrament, I have long considered this parish home. Growing up in this Stewardship way of life. One hears a lot of buzz words about what Stewardship is. Rarely do we hear what it is not. Stewardship is not a capital campaign, nor is it a resume builder.
In leaving this Parish Community I have been graced with an outsider’s perspective. This has allowed me to refine my own personal definition of Stewardship. Stewardship is the conscious recognition that we have been immeasurably and undeservedly blessed. Having grown up in Wichita. I assumed that Stewardship was the way of life of ALL Catholics. That ALL Catholic schools were rigorously focused on the formation of Disciples. That ALL Catholic parishes were vibrantly communal. I made the assumption that ALL Catholic communities were deeply rooted in prayer as evidenced by perpetual Adoration Chapels.
Yet, what is true here; is not true elsewhere. Since graduating from Kapaun Mt. Carmel in 2005, I have belonged to 4 different parishes in 3 different cities. Not one was a Stewardship parish. No Diocese offered perpetual adoration. Not a single school was tithing based. This is when I came to the realization that Stewardship itself is the gift.
I stand before you to today to personally thank you for that gift that you – the parishioners of Blessed Sacrament Parish – have bestowed on me. You gave me the opportunity to attend challenging schools. For free. I received this at no cost to my family. At no cost to myself. Simply your great generosity set the stage for my collegiate, post-graduate, and now professional success. I thank you for that.
I am even more grateful, however, for the fact that this education was truly a Catholic education. One that offered consistent prayer and formation in the way, mission, and purpose of Christ Jesus. And with this foundation how could I not serve His fellow children?
A year before I received my Kapaun diploma. I received the Sacrament of Confirmation from Bishop Olmstead at that communion rail. In second grade, I said my first confession to Father Eck in that confessional. Short weeks later I received my first Communion. Steps from where I stand now. And at my Kindergarten graduation my parents watched from these pews as I sang these words, “I heard that where your treasure is that’s where your heart will be. I don’t know much about hearts and things, but I’m glad you treasure me.”
I have received grace upon grace in these walls. I received that grace for the first time, on June 19, 1988. When I was baptized in that baptismal font. On that day, I received my baptismal call to cultivate Christ’s Kingdom. To take Him wherever it is that I might go.
I hope you are starting to gather from my story that Stewardship is not one of giving at all. Rather, Stewardship is a story of receiving. Receiving His gifts gratefully and gracefully. And recognizing that it is through sharing these great gifts that we participate in the Kingdom of Heaven here on Earth. As with any gift, over time, we become accustomed to it. But the exemplary gift of Stewardship is THE way OF eternal life. Whenever we are tempted to accept Stewardship as commonplace let us challenge those viewpoints. Let us remember that it is something much deeper - it is people loving people regardless of the cost. This is a glimpse into the Kingdom of Heaven.
I ask you during this Stewardship Renewal season to prayerfully ask God to show you your unique gifts. Welcome Him into this conversation regarding your personal talents, familial finances, and how you are spending the precious gift of time. Ask Him also for the confidence to act in service.
Christ came with a mission. He left us here to continue on in that mission. Christ has no body now on earth but yours. He has no hands on earth, but ours. No tongue to share the good news. The task is ours to bring about His kingdom. For on Earth as it is in Heaven.
Thank you for always welcoming me home with open arms. It is a gift to be received so hospitably.
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