by Lesle Knop
Special to The Leaven
My parents were Catholic as were my grandparents and their parents. I am fortunate to have been given the gift of my faith and the many blessings that the Lord has provided.
My husband is a convert. Seeing the church through his eyes has given me an even greater appreciation for the depth and breadth of our Catholic traditions and the inspired wisdom of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. My love for Jesus grows greater each day because I am surrounded and supported by a community of faith-filled believers.
As the executive director of the office of stewardship and development for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, with the leadership of Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, I hope to encourage you to pray about what the Lord has given you and, when you wonder when you should give thanks, to realize that now might be a good time.
Stewardship, as we have learned in our maturity as Catholics, is a “disciple’s response,” a way to show gratitude for our many blessings. I feel it is our obligation as children of God to show this expression of our grateful hearts by giving to support our beautiful mother, the church.
Financial stewardship allows parishes to provide excellent liturgies, Catholic education, youth ministries, evangelical outreach, compassion to those less fortunate, and more. In these challenging economic times, tithing is very important. The average gift made to our parishes last year was approximately $840 per household or about $70 per month. I am confident that most of our families can examine their priorities and give from the first fruits to what is clearly the most important need in our society.
As we embark on an effort to renew the church in northeast Kansas, I ask everyone to prayerfully consider increasing your pledge to your parish by a meaningful amount. Your stewardship is demonstrated also by getting involved with various liturgical and ministerial activities within your parish that allow for learning, growing in your faith and friendships with other Catholics. You will also meet a lot of wonderful, caring people as well. If you are not a volunteer, call the parish office to learn about the many opportunities for giving back. As St. Francis of Assisi says in his beautiful prayer, it is in giving that we receive.
If you hear a stewardship messages this year from your priest and if you receive a pledge card in support of your parish, I ask that you return the card as soon as possible so that your parish can plan how to better meet its obligations for the coming year.
When you receive a pledge card for the Archbishop’s Call to Share, which funds more than 42 important ministries of the church in northeast Kansas that benefit each and every parish in our archdiocese, I ask that you please give generously. Last year, the average gift in support of the Archbishop’s Call to Share was $242 per family. Thirty-five percent of all parish households stepped up to support the local church. I pray for those who can and should do better, and for those generous families who continue to give despite their own hardships.
Our support of our parishes and our local church is a demonstration of faith. My ancestors who struggled against religious persecution and endured hardship on the plains of Kansas helped to establish parishes, where people came together in faith communities. As a fifth generation Kansan, I am humbled that my Kansas ancestors, homesteading on the plains, were blessed by a priest traveling on horseback, when weather permitted, to celebrate Mass.
They gave because of their great faith from their meagerness. I have confidence that we can do much more from our abundance through and with the grace of God.