Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

As we celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the Archdiocese, we look back… on July 21, 1934 when Father James J. Kane offered Madison's first Mass in Madison's Memorial Town Hall.
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Father Michael F.X. Hinkley

Each year, New England’s great array of foliage colors sets the stage for the coming of our wonderful holiday of Thanksgiving. As a national observance, Thanksgiving Day reminds us that our country is founded on the principle of rendering thanks to God. In this way, our one nation under God is most authentic when it turns to the Lord with gratitude for the abundance of blessings on this land!

Expressing gratitude to God is not only an American tradition, it is also the foundation for Catholic stewardship. Just as the Native Americans and Pilgrims found a common need to turn to God in thanksgiving, so too do mature Christian disciples. Along with the members of the parish I am pastor of, I have become profoundly aware that God is the source of all the time, talent and treasure that make up our lives. Thus, as disciples of Jesus, we are called to give thanks to God not just on one holiday a year, but through a lifestyle that demonstrates that we take seriously our stewardship of the time, talent and treasure God has blessed us with.

While Christian stewardship has been promoted in many parishes over the last number of years, it is often the case that Catholics don’t fully understand what exactly it is. Catholic stewardship is not a program, special retreat or fund-raiser – it is a way of life inspired by God’s goodness. In other words, stewardship is a lifestyle that puts God first in all things!

There are three basic stages to one’s maturation as a steward of God’s gifts. First, the Christian must become aware that he or she has received from God. We must find within ourselves the ability to realize that the time, talent and treasure we enjoy are from God. In this way, stewardship reveals how essential it is for us to acknowledge the generosity of God. Our Judeo-Christian tradition calls for us to count our blessings and then praise and thank the Lord! Unless we are fully aware of having received blessings from God, we can’t be thankful for them.

The second part of a mature spirit of stewardship is one’s response to God’s goodness and generosity. Just as is the case with a boy or girl receiving birthday gifts, the gift given by God isn’t properly received until the giver is thanked. Catholic stewardship entails an intentional and committed choice to live a life in thanksgiving as a follower Christ: What would Jesus ask you to do with your gifts, talents and resources?

Thirdly, by choosing to center your life in the Gospel, you become a mature disciple of Jesus and reveal God’s Kingdom in the here and now. In this way, you take on a lifestyle that joyfully reflects your faith in the spirit of gratitude! Without question, mature stewardship of God’s gifts requires Christian conversion in the deepest sense. Thus, stewardship invites us to a change of heart; we come to appreciate that our time, talent and treasure are gifts from God. In turn, as committed disciples, we freely return a portion of our gifts to help build up the Kingdom of God.

Once you make the choice to give back to God, you become a revelation of God’s kingdom in a practical way. You identify your gifts as having their source in God and they now become an expression of your faith in the Gospel as you return a portion of them to God. Catholic stewardship as a lifestyle is always practical. This is especially the case for our stewardship of our financial resources. Many Catholics in the Northeast shun the practice of tithing, viewing it as something foreign and more in keeping with the Protestant religious traditions.

Properly understood, tithing is a religious practice with its origins in the Old Testament (Malachi 3:10). Tithing was also asked of the New Testament disciples of Jesus (1 Corinthians 16:1-2; Matthew 6:31-33). It calls for the believer to appreciate that all good gifts have God as their origin. With this understanding, the believer returns 10 percent of his or her gross income to God. Our Catholic tradition of tithing calls for 5-7 percent to be given to the local parish, 1-2 percent to archdiocesan causes and the remaining 2-4 percent to be divided among other charities of the believer’s choice.

When you speak to people in New England parishes about tithing and Catholic stewardship, they often look at you as if you just smashed an egg into your forehead. For some odd reason, tithing doesn’t seem to make sense to Catholics of our region. Why is this the case? Do we not owe gratitude to the Lord for the financial advantages we know as Americans? Every Thanksgiving Day echoes this very same appreciation for the many advantages we know as Americans. Remember that Catholic stewardship is not a fund-raiser; it is a lifestyle based on giving thanks for what God has provided! Thus, we are to support our parishes and schools for no other reason than gratitude for God’s goodness.

As we anticipate our national observance of Thanksgiving Day, let us renew our commitment to being good stewards of the gifts God has given. In this way, we grow stronger in our faith and reveal evermore the greatness of our good God!

Father Hinkley is the Pastor of Blessed Sacrament Church and School and the Shrine of St. Anne for All Mothers, both in Waterbury. He holds a doctorate in moral theology and advanced degrees in spiritual theology and marriage and family studies.

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.