by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann
At last Sunday’s Mass for the members of the Crosier Society (individuals and families who give either a minimum of $1,000 or 1 percent of their annual income to the Call To Share annual archdiocesan appeal), I related the following story:
A 10-year-old boy named Tommy, before leaving for school one morning, left a note on the kitchen table for his mother. It read:
For raking the leaves: $5
For taking out the trash: $3
For washing the dishes: $2
Total charges for services rendered:
When Tommy came home from school that afternoon, he found on his bed the following note with a $10 bill attached:
For driving you to football practice: No charge
For caring for you when you were sick: No charge
For providing and preparing meals: No charge
For giving you life: No charge
Attached is $10 to pay in full for the services you rendered.
Tommy went to his mother and gave her the $10 bill back and simply said: “Mom, I want to learn to love as you love.”
One of my major pastoral priorities in the archdiocese is to cultivate the spirituality of stewardship. The spirituality of stewardship begins with a profound gratitude inspired by the realization that everything that we have is God’s gift. Our life, our health, our talents and abilities, our educational and career opportunities, our friends and families — ultimately all come from God.
Once we realize the truth that everything is God’s gift and everything that we think we possess has been given to us through God’s grace, then our natural response is to want to give expression to our gratitude. We want to attempt to give back to God in some way the gifts that he has entrusted to us.
As archbishop, I have the opportunity to see so many people in the archdiocese living out this spirituality of stewardship. Allow me to share with you just a few recent examples:
• Earlier in November, I spent a morning in prayer and reflection with the St. Lawrence Volunteers. These are four recent graduates of the University of Kansas who have chosen to give a year of service to the St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center in Lawrence.
• Last Friday, I celebrated the funeral Mass for Mike Farmer, the executive director for the Kansas Catholic Conference. Some years ago, Mike resigned his seat in the House of Representatives in the Kansas Legislature to serve the church by leading the Kansas Catholic Conference. At the time, I am told that he was considered the likely candidate to become the next Speaker of the House.
• This past Sunday, I celebrated Mass at Sacred Heart Church in Mound City and gave the annual St. Rose Philippine Duchesne Award to Betty Booker, who has taught first grade at St. Agnes School in Roeland Park for more than 10 years. Betty is loved by her students, respected by her fellow faculty members and an excellent example of the dedication of our Catholic school teachers.
• This past Saturday, I had the privilege of ordaining Shawn Tunink to the diaconate. In the spring, God willing, I will ordain Shawn a priest for the archdiocese. Vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life as religious Sisters or Brothers are the fruit of the spirituality of stewardship. Shawn and our other seminarians want to give all of their lives to the Lord in service of his people.
During this special time in our society when we pause to give thanks, may we remember that, as Christians, we are called not just for one day of the year but always and everywhere to give thanks! Let us ask the Lord to give us the gift of a grateful heart, desiring more and more to learn how to love as he loves.
P.S. Bishop Robert Finn (of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph) and I have entered into a friendly wager on the “big game” between KU and Mizzou. In the unlikely event that Missouri should win, I will be participating in a gathering of young adults on the Missouri side wearing a Tiger jersey. In the much more likely scenario that KU remains undefeated, Bishop Finn will come to the St. Lawrence Center to meet with KU students wearing a Jayhawk jersey.
I think Bishop Finn will look very good in blue and red! Go Jayhawks!