Envisioning Our Future — By Fr. Rich, O.P.

FrRichWebOver the past year, this idea of “visioning the future” has been very much a part of my present. The Holy Spirit, in a rare show of humor, has arranged for this process to take place, not only in our parish community, but also at the level of our diocese and our Dominican province. With respect to our parish and diocese, the interests are entwined. We’ve been tasked with examining our facility, our ministries, our liturgies, our relationships with each other, how/what we study. We’d already begun the revitalization of our parish council. It is a process that communities that wish to remain vital and engaged undergo on a regular basis. It’s a healthy, exciting, and challenging exercise as we find ways to use our time and talent to offer praise and live out our Gospel call.

People ask me if I have a vision, a plan for where I see St. Thomas More. My response has been, continues to be, “I want Newman to become a force to be reckoned with, on Campus and in Columbia!” We are already, in some ways, there. St. Thomas More is the largest Catholic Campus ministry in the region, supported by a parish that is committed to its support. Together, we’ve coordinated over 3,000 hours of service to mentoring young people, visiting the elderly, donating blood, volunteering at Loaves and Fishes and the Food Bank. The list continues; committed to education, we offer Children’s Liturgy of the Word, religious education classes, adult education, small groups and Bible study groups for our students and adults.

Everything that has gone before is what stewardship looks like: offering our gifts to our community in such a way as to lift up our members for better worship, better understanding of Scripture or our Faith, sharing our joys and our sadnesses. We have a safe place to come to in a world that can be challenging or threatening. Our people share their strengths and gifts and their time and energy freely, graciously, and joyously.

There are, however, those among us who find themselves on the sidelines. Overwhelmed by choices, undecided about how best to nurture our faith, unwilling to risk being involved; sometimes we find ourselves uncommitted. To these members of our community — I seek your openness, I seek your support, I seek your trust.

I’m inviting you to take a first step, to be open to the options that are before you whether they be in the sharing your time, your talents, and yes, your treasure. Good stewardship requires that all the elements work in concert; their interplay is essential to strong, vibrant programs of ministry, prayer, community outreach, or study.

The challenge that I want to offer is actually very specific. Over the next couple of weeks, we will be participating in an exercise to increase our offertory collection. It is not directed only at those of you who have been sharing of your treasure and continue to do so. We are also inviting those in our community who have not begun to participate in supporting our parish community.

Our community has been and continues to be consistently generous. When requests have gone out to support disaster relief or for contributions for a variety of causes from the bishop or the national Church, our community has responded without reservation. I am proud of the responses we have made to each request. But this request focuses on our own home, our own needs and goals.

I ask that you be attentive to the messages over the next couple of weeks, attentive and contemplative, and examine where you are in the stewardship of our community. And I ask that you consider how and where it is possible to commit to working to help our community to “be a force to be reckoned with.”