This is a partial transcript of Dan & Sam’s stewardship testimony given at a Mass during Stewardship Renewal weekend in November 2021.
Dan: Good morning. My name is Dan Berry, and this is my wife, Sam. I have been a parishioner at St. Francis since I was born. I went to school here and then moved on to Bishop Carroll. My wife was born in Lyons and moved to Wichita for college. We met at Wichita State and were married here at St. Francis in 2006. We currently have three kids at St. Francis and one at Bishop Carroll. Collin (9th), Ronan (7th), Dylan (6th), and Rylee(3rd).
We are here today to talk to you about stewardship – the grateful response of a Christian disciple who recognizes and receives God’s gifts, and who shares these gifts in love of God and neighbor. The theme for this year is "gifted to serve."
Growing up here I always remember stewardship being talked about at Mass, and my two brothers and I fighting over who got to put the envelope in the basket every week. I know my parents were active but I did not understand how special stewardship and St. Francis were. I started my personal stewardship journey as an altar server.
This was followed by ushering at the youth mass on Sundays when I had the chance. As I got older and I was in college I still attended St. Francis but was not as active in the stewardship way of life. That started to change when my wife and I got married. We began tithing on a regular basis but to 23-year-old me, it was a bill that needed to be paid so our kids could receive a great education at St. Francis someday. Outside of tithing and attending weekly Mass, I was not very active in the church.
It was when our kids started school that our stewardship way of life turned into what is today. The fact that our kids could receive a Catholic education is one of the best gifts we could ever receive and has opened so many other gifts that the parish has to offer. At St. Francis we have so many ways to serve and show our gratitude for all the great gifts we have been given.
Through the years I have been active in many ways from ushering at Sunday masses to coaching middle school basketball to attending Kapaun’s Men during Lent. I love how much there is to do at St. Francis and how many ways there are to serve, be involved, and to grow in our faith. The way we have tithed has also changed over the years. I no longer see it as a bill. I have realized how truly blessed I have been and even though I still don’t feel like we give enough, I know that we will keep trying and stretching ourselves to show our gratitude to God for all the good things that he has given to us.
Sam: As my husband said, I grew up in the small town of Lyons. Stewardship looked a lot different than it does here at St. Francis. My family tithed regularly at our parish, and like Dan I remember my sisters and I fighting over who got to put the money in the basket each time. I recall sermons about giving money, but not about time and talent. That was all I knew about stewardship until I came to St. Francis. After joining St. Francis 16 years ago, I learned that stewardship is so much more than a check that you write, and that getting involved is important.
In the beginning I was scared to get involved. Scared because I didn’t know anyone, and scared that I didn’t really have anything to offer. It wasn’t until our oldest started school that we finally started to do more. At the time I was a stay-at-home mom, so when Collin was in kindergarten I helped out with class parties at every chance I had, but by the end of that year I decided it was time to do more.
When I signed up for our Home and School Association, I thought I was just volunteering to bring food for the teachers now and then, but was quickly asked to join the team and attend monthly meetings. I didn’t want to, but I said yes. And I have to say, this was the best decision.
I walked into that first meeting not knowing anyone, but I quickly felt like part of the group. I was greeted with smiles and introductions and people who made me feel like my presence was not only welcome, but needed. During my two years on the committee, I met many people and made a lot of lasting friendships. St. Francis started to not feel so big and overwhelming. It started to feel like home.
After my time on Home and School, I continued to help in the classrooms, I took pictures for the Vernacular, and I joined the School Council. As a family we have been greeters and taken up the offertory. Our two oldest are altar servers, and our third will be trained as a server later this year. As our kids grow and their involvement in various activities has changed, our stewardship has changed as well. Now that I’m working part time, sometimes in the evenings, I no longer have the time to attend every function and take photos, and my time on the School Council has come to an end, but I still make sure to help at the school whenever I can. Not only are volunteers what keep the school running, and help keep the teachers sane, I know that my presence is setting an example for my children.
As I said, St. Francis is like home now. We are a family. In our own home, we expect everyone to help, because that’s what family does. We are there for one another, and we help so that everything doesn’t fall on the shoulders of one person. Our church family is no different. We need each and every member of this family to share the load.
Dan: When you fill out your stewardship renewal packets, we ask that you prayerfully consider getting involved, and making a commitment to your parish family through hospitality, prayer, formation, and service.
Stewardship should not be looked at as another bill to pay, or a chore to check off of your list. It is a way to give back to God what he has so graciously given to us. God has created each and every one of us with unique gifts and our parish needs each and every one of those gifts to continue to thrive and grow.
Without the stewardship way of life, our children would not be able to attend SFA. Tuition-based Catholic schools cost thousands of dollars a year that we simply would not be able to afford. But because of the generous giving of our parish family, our kids get to learn about God in the same place that they learn to read and write, and that is a beautiful gift. So thank you. Thank you for your stewardship commitment that has made it possible for our children and so many others to attend our amazing school.