For the past several weeks I have been speaking with you on the topic of: Stewardship. In short, I mentioned that when we practice stewardship we express our gratitude to God for His blessings to us and we show respect for our brothers and sisters in Christ. This week I continue speaking with you on that same topic by telling you a story...
A humanitarian group in Africa, noticing the filthy water, sewage, and disease, built clean water and sewage system for a village. Months later, they visited the village, but it was back to square one with filthy water, sewage and disease. The chief told the humanitarian workers: "And what did you expect? These people had been many years without clean water. Then you gave it to them for free in abundance. They took all they could use and more. The people did not work for those water stations. They do not own them, and they could not be persuaded to maintain them."
The humanitarians were silent. The chief had spoken truth. The great gift alone had not been enough and the reasons could be clearly observed. Perhaps it is human nature to abuse a gift. The humanitarians returned to their camp and thought long and hard about how they could help the villagers. The next day the humanitarians returned, determined to rebuild the water and sanitation systems with the following conditions:
1. The villagers would have to pay for water and sanitation. Not more than they could afford, but there would be no gift giving this time.
2. A group of villagers would work with the contractors to build the system and would be taught how to repair every aspect of it. These villagers would in turn train others so the system would never fall into disrepair.
With these new conditions in place, the water and sanitation systems were restored. This time the people had respect for the systems because they owned them. This time they were able to repair the system when it broke down. To this day the villagers have plenty of clean water and live free of filth and disease.
A lot can be said about the simple practice of ownership. We treat things differently when we take ownership of them, whether it is a bike, car, house or our appearance we begin looking at things in a whole new light. The same can be said of taking ownership of a parish. When we take ownership of our parish we no longer walk by trash left behind in a pew expecting someone else to clean it up on Monday morning. Instead we pick it up and dispose of it properly, because we want everything to be right for the next person. Ownership of a parish says that this is my parish, just as it were my house, and its appearance, the way it is presented, to other parishioners and visitors is important to me because it reflects who I am. I take pride in its appearance both inside and outside the church.
As we take ownership of our parish let us remember, "All that matters in any and every way Christ is being proclaimed.
P.S. We welcome Deacon Dave Osmack and his wife, Kristina, to our parish as Deacon Dave begins his new assignment in our parish. Welcome, Deacon Dave and Kristina! More details in next week's bulletin.
Monsignor William Mc Cumber