Time & Talent Weekend - October 30th & 31st

     When I first came to St. Andrew the Apostle Parish eleven years ago, I spent my entire first summer meeting with parishioners who led a ministry or a particular project at St. Andrew the Apostle Parish. I began my ministry this way because my academic background in administration taught me to be a systems thinker: looking at and understanding the entire organization’s culture and how it operates within the larger context. An influential Pastor learns the parish’s culture he serves, listens attentively to those engaged in ministry, and leads using the model of Servant Leadership (one who leads by serving rather than being served).

     Eleven years seems to have flown by quickly. During that first summer, I learned many things about our parish that I attempted to implement. One of the essential needs identified was engaging the parishioners to actively participate in helping our parish be vibrant and dynamic, engaging the parishioners to put the Gospel into action, and sharing the responsibility of building God’s Kingdom. After prayerful thought and reflection, and through the course of wise counsel, I launched a challenge to our parishioners. The challenge was for St. Andrew the Apostle Parish to become a “Total Stewardship Parish.” That meant to take seriously our commitment to building the Kingdom of God by inviting all parishioners to make time to serve the Lord and to do so by sharing the gifts that God has given them; and to strive toward stewardship of time, talent, and treasure as a way of life. Since that time, our parish has grown to be one of the most vibrant parishes in the diocese, but only because the parishioners have responded to the challenge to build God’s Church.

     On October 30th & 31st, we will once again celebrate Stewardship of Time and Talent Sunday. I would like to help our parishioners understand why living your life this way is so important. First and foremost, our Holy Father has called everyone in the church to live as “Missionary Disciples,” and living your life as a Christian Steward is a disciple’s response in gratitude to the gifts lavishly poured upon us by our loving God. It would do well for us to understand what Stewardship of Time and Talent truly means.

     There are two ways God wants you to use your Talents. First, God wants you to enjoy what He has given you. He did not gift you with talents just for your benefit. He grants them to us with a requirement that we share them in justice and charity in the world around us. So how exactly does God want us to use our talents for Him?

     Might we understand this concept by reflecting on this question? What am I good at doing? Painting? Counseling? Maybe you’ve never met a car problem you could not repair, or you are a fantastic chef. Perhaps you find opportunities to help people wherever you go. Whatever your talent or skill is, know this…. God is behind it! But He did not bless any of us with a talent or skill so we could look awesome or use it for our own needs and pleasure.

     God wants us to steward those gifts for Him! Maybe you thought stewardship was just for your money (treasure). While Stewardship of Treasure is significantly essential, Stewardship of Time and Talent is extremely important as well. Stewardship is about everything in our lives—and that includes our talents. If we want to please God— if we want to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” when we meet Him in heaven—then we must faithfully use our talents the way God wants us to.

     St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians (3:23–24) tells us that everything we do should be for Christ: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”

     So how exactly does God want us to use our talents for Him? I believe the answer is quite simple: First, bless others with your gifts/talents, and second, use those gifts to build His Kingdom.

     In 1 Peter 4:10, we are called to use our gifts to serve others as faithful stewards of God’s grace. Now, in that context, Peter was explicitly talking about spiritual gifts like prophecy and healing. Those are supernatural abilities God gives each Christ follower, but the general idea of blessing others also carries over to talents. God doesn’t provide us with anything just for our benefit. After all, we are blessed to be a blessing to others (Genesis 12:2)!

     Just as with spiritual gifts, God wants us to use our talents and skills to benefit others. How can you put that into practice? Maybe there’s a ministry that uses your skill or talent to help others. If you love working on cars, volunteer to repair single moms’ cars for free. Or, if you paint, hold art classes 4 From the Pastor’s Desk for our Senior or youth ministries. If you have clerical skills, consider volunteering in our offices (Religious Education, Parish Office, Little Angels, or Spiritual Life). If you are mechanically inclined, share your talents fixing God’s house. If you look in our community, you are sure to find a need you can meet with the talents God has given to you.

     God made us all different because together, all of us make up the kingdom. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul compares the body of Christ to a human body: Each of us is unique, but together we make the body complete. And Christ is the head of the body (Ephesians 5:23), so everything we do points back to Him. God directs it all!

     God wants you to use your unique role in the body of Christ to glorify Him. So, if God made you a fantastic singer, sing for Him. If your talent is a little less conventional—maybe you’re good with numbers or with computer technology—then translate that into a way to help the church with social media. Use your God-given abilities to work for the Lord, who gave you the talent that you have. Jesus gives us two commandments: to love the Lord and to love others as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:37–40). And when we steward our talents to honor Him and bless others, we are doing just that.

     Therefore, to steward your Time and your Talent, I am asking you to do the following. First, I invite you to trust God. As you know, we have been rebuilding our parish since the Pandemic. Several parishioners can still not return to church because of underlying health conditions. Some parishioners who were previously actively involved in ministry have taken a break in fear of the Pandemic. Let us trust God. He always provides for our needs, and I am doing everything possible to keep our church and parish complex safe for everyone.

     Second, in the next few weeks, you will receive our 2022 Parish Ministry Directory. I ask everyone to prayerfully review the Directory and select one ministry that reflects your God-given talent. The parish needs your help to rebuild. The Lord needs your heart and hands to build His church. Please collaborate with me in ministry. Every person has something to offer. If you are struggling with using your gift or choosing a ministry that seems appropriate in your circumstances, please make an appointment (Zoom or otherwise) to see me, Fr. Victorino, Msgr. Frey, Sr. Guia, Deacon Craig, Deacon Aaron, Deacon Christopher, or Jane Palandro in the Parish Office. We will help you to discern what is right in your circumstances before Almighty God. After all, no matter how small or insignificant your gift or talent might appear to be… it is always much in the Lord’s hands.

With a loving and grateful heart,

Msgr. Marucci, D.Min. VF