As Father mentioned I am Kathy Buche and this is my husband Mark Buche. I would like to thank Fr. McKinney for inviting us here today to share the story of our stewardship journey.
Stewardship is believing everything we have comes from God and as faithful stewards, we give back to God out of gratitude for the gifts God has generously given. Being a steward is making a lifestyle conversion and a prioritized way of living our Catholic faith. Being a steward is living our baptismal call to be a visible expression of the Body of Christ.
Mark and I have been married for 38 years and were both raised in the Catholic church. We have four grown children and eight grandchildren. We have been members of St. Mary’s Cathedral in Lafayette for the past 30 years. We had perfect examples from our parents of what it meant to be good stewards. Our parents lived their faith in their everyday lives and instilled in us the importance of our Catholic Faith and giving or tithing to the church every Sunday. When we were married and our children were young, we were sporadic about our attendance at church. But when we did go we always made sure we had our envelope to put in the basket. It wasn’t until our children started school and we made the decision to put them in the Catholic School system that we realized we were not living our baptismal call and being a visible expression of the Body of Christ. We were not being good examples for our children.
We made a commitment to attend church weekly, we made a commitment to make the financial sacrifice to give our children the same Catholic education our parents gave us and we committed to tithing on a weekly basis. We owned our own business and financially we were doing okay. We were still growing our business and so our income was more about what we needed to make ends meet. When it came to tithing at this point in our life, it wasn’t about giving of our first fruits it was about what was left over. In our minds we were giving something to our parish every week along with our monthly tuition payment.
Several years later we had two children in Junior High and two still in grade school. We had made some bad decisions with the expansion of our business and found ourselves in financial trouble. We were behind on our school tuition; we were looking at filing for bankruptcy and losing everything we had. We had never qualified for tuition assistance. Our pastor at the time, approached Mark and said he knew we were having some financial troubles and offered to assist us financially with our tuition. We just needed to come in and talk with him. Mark and I talked and did a lot of praying about the situation we were in. We had given up so much already for our business. We decided with some legal and financial advice we were going to try and dig our way out of the mess without filling bankruptcy. We also decided we were going to find a way to handle our tuition on our own. I struggled with the thought of our parish having to assist us financially with the fruits of others gifts. Wasn’t it I who was to be giving to my church? Isn’t this what God called me to do? We were very humbled to realize our parish family wanted to help us in our time of need. Through prayer and a lot of communication and sacrifice between Mark and I and our children we were able to get our tuition caught up before the end of the beginning of the next school year and stayed on track with our payments. Without our strong faith, we would not have made it through this time in our marriage. We realized that making our tuition payments was about all we could do to meet our tithing commitment. How else could we give back to our parish and be good stewards? God had gifted Mark with a beautiful voice. Mark became involved with the choir at St. Mary’s and started cantering and singing in the choir. I became more involved with volunteering at the schools. We couldn’t give what we wanted to financially but we could make up for it with our time and talent.
At this point in our lives, we still did not grasp the whole concept of stewardship as a way of life. It wasn’t until we had a couple from Carmel come talk to our parish about stewardship as a way of life. They encouraged us to spend equal time focusing on our prayer life, time and talent and sharing of our treasure. We thought the talk was going to try and encourage us to give more money. But, they shared the concept of praying for each other and our parish as a whole and for the success of our ministries and the health of the pope, bishops and priest as being good stewards. They encouraged us to make this a part of our daily lives. The second phase of stewardship is giving of your time and talent with our brothers and sisters of our parish. Praying with them. Get involved. Our parish is only what we put into it. I myself realized I had been wearing blinders at church, when I attended a CRHP retreat and only knew two ladies on the retreat weekend. After getting to know the ladies on this retreat, I realized most of them attended the same 11o’clock Mass I attended and I had not even noticed them in church. I was not being a good steward or disciple of God, if I wasn’t reaching out to the people around me. As Mark and I got more involved in our parish and were praying more for the people of our parish, we wanted to give more to our parish. Our parish was no longer about going to church every Sunday and putting our envelope in the basket. It was about living our faith on a daily basis and giving back in prayer, time, talent, and treasure.
Yes, that day when the couple from Carmel came to talk to our parish, they did touch on the stewardship of treasure. They spoke of giving of your first fruits and not of what is left over. Mark and I realized it was time to evaluate what we were giving to our church.
Stewardship is a way of life and it can be a very rewarding way of life. As with anything in life, we can also become comfortable with the way we are doing things. Mark and I have found we sometimes need reminders like today’s talk to re-evaluate where we are in our stewardship journey. Are we giving of our first fruits; are we giving of our time and talents; are we praying like we need to? Last week Heather and Eric Dexter from your parish came and talked to the parishioners at St. Mary’s Cathedral about their stewardship journey. Their talk and preparing for this talk today has made Mark and I realize it is time for us to discuss and re-evaluate where we are on our stewardship journey. Are we doing what God has called us to do? Are we doing what is needed to make our parish what we want it to be?
Thank you for inviting us here today to share our stewardship journey with you. In closing, we want to leave you with a Stewardship Prayer we feel sums up our feeling about stewardship. This prayer came from a parish in Louisville, Kentucky.
Our parish is composed of people like me. I help make it what it is.
It will be friendly if I am, It will be Holy if I am.
Its pews will be filled if I help fill them. It will be prayerful if I pray.
It will make generous gifts to many causes if I am a generous giver. It will bring others into its worship if I invite and bring them.
It will be a parish of loyalty and love, of fearlessness and faith, of compassion, charity and mercy, if I, who make it what it is, am filled with these same things.
Therefore, with the help of God, I shall dedicate myself to the task of being all the things that I want our parish to be. Amen