BCCHS PASTORS DAY 2016
So you have probably heard it said that a “handshake used to be enough to make a contract.” But today we are in a litigation society where people need to have it all written down on a piece of paper signing the dotted line. People bemoan the fact that they are unable to simply shake a hand and get the job done. Unfortunately, many times people are not people of their word and it creates a society of suspicion that causes lawyers to get involved. But whenever you shake a hand you make a commitment that says that I am going to keep my word. Now here is the deal, each of you have already made that kind of commitment to St. Francis parish family.
I want you to recognize the honesty that we expect of you whenever we provide for you your catholic education. By now you should be well aware that this school is 100% provided by the Catholic family of the Diocese of Wichita. You may not be aware that we are the only diocese, literally in the entire world, that has the kind of program that allows your parish to be able to provide this education for you as its mission. The seats you are sitting in, the walls that are surrounding us, the the music that was played at Mass, the sports that you play, the teachers who are paid… all of this comes to you through the generosity of Catholic parish families.
The only way that that works is by the generous commitment of each of you. That is my point today, I am not talking to your mom and your dad, I am not talking to anybody else at St. Francis parish family, I am talking to you today. You yourself have made a commitment to make the Stewardship Way of Life work. If you are not keeping your commitment the ability for us to provide the mission of a Catholic education fails. Your participation in the stewardship way of life is the only way that we are able to make this work.
Recently the parish published it’s end-of-the-year report called “Portrait of a Christian Steward.” This document is a reminder of what it means to be an active member of the St. Francis parish family. Now you are either a person of your word or you are not and I am throwing it down on you today to stand up and be a person of your word. It is not possible for us to provide a Catholic education if all of us are not involved in the six characteristics of a portrait of a Christian steward.
On the front of the report is the face of Jesus Christ. This is a reminder that every Christian is supposed to be like Christ. One of the ways in which we imitate Jesus is to portray him is by living the stewardship way of life. Many of you may remember you signing a piece of paper called the Parish/Family Agreement, in which you promised to do six actions of stewardship. If you are not doing any one of these six things you are causing stewardship to fail in our parish. I say that explicitly because often times we can pass the buck to another person and it is easy to do in a parish our size. There are 250 of you inside this room, there are 8,500 souls at St. Francis parish, 2,700 families and last month we gained another 35 families just simply after Mass. We are a parish that is growing. And because we are a big parish it is easy for some to say “somebody else can take care of it”. I am telling you today, nobody else can take care of your word. I am asking you to be a person of your word. I am not asking your mom or your dad, I am not asking your brothers and your sisters, I am not asking the person setting next to you, I am asking each of you to be a person of your word. So let’s open up our book and look at these six things.
The first thing that you committed to was to be a lifelong steward. Now that lifelong stewardship means being a disciple of Jesus Christ. You see the first thing that we are asking of you is love Jesus Christ. You see your Catholic education is useless to you if you have not encountered, and come to know, Jesus Christ. Catholic education is not like some kind of automatic faith dispenser. And simply because you walk in the walls of Bishop Carroll does not mean you somehow “soak in” the gift of faith. Jesus Christ is a personal commitment. I am calling you to discipleship… to love the man who died for your sins... to love the man who saves your soul…. to conform your life to his.
When you do that you will naturally do the next thing, which is celebrate the Eucharist. I want you to understand the one thing that will allow me to disinvite you from Bishop Carroll is if I know you are not going to Sunday Mass. You need to realize that the Parish/Family agreement that you signed also has to be signed by me. This means that there is a cooperation between you and I to carry out the mission of the Catholic Church. What is the mission of the Catholic Church: To proclaim Jesus Christ to the glory of the Father by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is what we do. If you are not participating in Sunday Mass, you are telling me you are not participating in the mission of the Church. I am not telling your parents to go to Mass. I am not telling your brothers and sisters to go to Mass. I am saying this to you. If you are not waking yourself up or going on a Saturday night or Sunday morning to go to Mass, then we have a problem, and we need to correct that problem. Mass is the essential action of a Steward. This is why Fr. Sam’s challenge you to shake your priest’s hand after Mass is very important. This allow us to be a part of your faith life; but it also allows us to know that you are involved at St. Francis by worshiping the living God. This leads to the third aspect of the Portrait of a Christian Steward: talking about your faith.
One of the great things that I remember at Bishop Carroll as chaplain here, was the ability to pray at student events and share faith with one another. I am encouraging to do that. The fact that you can talk about your faith is a great gift because many people around the world are being martyred for the faith we can freely live. The ability for us to talk about our faith is a great gift of the American Catholic church and if we are not doing this, shame on us. The ability for us to be Christian out loud is such a blessing! So why would we silence ourselves? Then, whenever we are share our faith we are going to do the fourth aspect of the Portrait of the Christian Steward: keep learning.
Here is the deal, graduation from a Catholic school is not graduation from your faith. If you think that by graduating from Bishop Carroll that somehow you stop growing in your faith, then you are not in love with Jesus Christ. No one gets married and then makes the decision on that day to stop learning about their wife. That would not be right. In the same way, when it comes to graduation many times people have the idea that we graduate out of learning about our faith or when we get Confirmed we get confirmed out of having extra classes about Jesus. That is not right either. Catholic education is falling in love with a man, Jesus Christ, who you will learn about for the rest of your life. It is about being committed to him personally for the rest of your life. Learning about him here in Catholic schools must not end whenever you leave Catholic schools. Rather it should begin your exciting adventure back to sharing your faith in the most difficult culture in the United States for faith: college. When you go to college you are walking into a jungle where it becomes difficult to protect your faith. But, at Bishop Carroll, you are being given great tools to protect your faith. Then, as you keep learning you are also going to do the fifth aspect of the portrait of a Christian steward: to share.
You yourself as high school students are able to do many things at St. Francis and I am encouraging you to do so: serving, lecturing, singing in the choir. There are many ways you can help St. Francis out. One particular way you can help is to babysit small children so adults can do faith formation programs like, becoming Catholic in RCIA, adult education programs or young adult groups. If you think that you can babysit then contact the office at St. Francis and sign up. Volunteering at St. Francis is a huge deal, we need your help in doing that.
When you commit to Jesus Christ, when you go to Sunday worship, when you talk about your faith, when you continue and to learn when you actively volunteer, the last aspect of the Prortrait of a Christian Steward is a no-brainer: to support financially the very thing that is supporting you. This is so important guys. I would love say that finances aren’t important. I would love to say “God is going to provide”, he will but he doesn’t provide money except through our generosity. We need to recognize that money is a serious commitment.
And I want you to recognize what you yourself are receiving so turn to the very back page.
(Turn to the page with the bar graph.) Catholic High School education last year 2016 cost St. Francis Parish 1.25 million dollars. That represents one quarter of the entire income of St. Francis Catholic parish. St. Francis pulls in about 4.6 million dollars a year. (we need to pull in 5.1 million dollars a year to be able to continue to fund what we are funding.) Each of you individual receives from St. Francis a “scholarship” of $5,000 a year to go to Bishop Carroll. That means that in four years you will receive a $20,000 educaiton. In return we ask you to live the Portrait of a Christian Steward: to go to Mass, to be grateful, to volunteer, play into the system. Without you the system fails! It can’t work any other way. Do not allow yourself to think that somebody else is going to do it. It is only by the generosity of committed men and women that this entire system works. I am inviting you to be a part of that system. You have to be a part of that system.
If you get an allowance or if you have a job I want to ask you, “Are you giving 10%?” Let’s pretend that all 250 of you give $1 a week. That is $1,000 a month or $12,000 a year. That means that if each of you gives just $1 a week to Bishop Carroll that would cover the cost of two students going to Bishop Carroll. Don’t think that a $1 is just a little thing; or that any amount of money is a small thing. Whatever you are able to give, give. Again, I am not talking to your parents. I am not talking to your brothers and sisters. I am not talking to somebody else. You are the ones who are going to have to do this. I am inviting you to do it.
Now last year I was a little bit more silly when I gave this presentation. This year I am a little bit more serious and I will tell you why: I feel the pressure at St. Francis of the need for generous stewardship. And the pressure is this: Unless you yourself are going to Mass we have a problem. Unless you yourself are volunteering, we have a problem. Unless you yourself are actively giving what you can to the school and to the church we have a problem. Why? Because we are the only ones who make stewardship work at St. Francis. We and no one else. You see we are called to be disciples of Jesus Christ, but that has a real commitment behind it and that real commitment really matters. You really matter.
Your grades also matter. I am going to throw down on you a little bit more as well. Did you know that I see every single one of your grades? Do you know that at the end of each quarter I get an entire list of every single grade that is in this room? I am able to go through that list and see how many people got straight A’s, B’s, C’s as well as the D’s and F’s. Those of you who are getting D’s and F’s, you and I may have a conversation in the future. If you are getting any kind of combination of three D’s or two F’s it will be possible that I will come to this school and you will come talk to me. We expect you to be putting in hard work for an education that people are putting in hard work to provide for you. Now I recognize that there could be learning disabilities. I am not trying to threaten people who just simply have a hard time studying, not a problem. All of us are at a different place whenever that comes to education. However, what I am saying is this: I am expecting all of you to work hard at your education if you are at this school because many people, by their own blood, sweat and tears, have provided the seats you are sitting in, the walls that are surrounding you, the music that you heard at Mass, and the school that you are going to.
We have got to appreciate that. We have got to know the value of that. If you do not know the value, you cannot be grateful. If I came up to you and gave you a $20,000 car you would just go berserk. Well guess what, we are giving you an education that allows you to become disciples of Jesus Christ and committed to the society around you. Please appreciate that and the number one way to appreciate that is by going to Mass; because Mass is where we worship the living God, the Father through Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Let us stand.
Oh my God we give you thanks for everything that you have done for us and we ask your blessings upon us, allow us to appreciate all that you bestowed upon us through the work and generosity of the parish that you placed us in. Allow us to participate in our way in the Stewardship Way of Life. Allow us to see it so that we can appreciate it and so that we can cooperate with it to the best of our abilities. We ask this through the intersession of Our Lady of Sorrows as we say, Hail Mary . . .
God Bless you. . .