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Stewardship Lay Witness: Nuessen Family

Nuessen Family

This is a partial transcript of Ron & Cathy’s stewardship talk given at a Mass during Stewardship Renewal weekend in November 2020.

Ron: Good morning, my name is Ron Nuessen and this is my wife Cathy. We have been parishioners as a family since 2000. We have two children. Bryer is a freshman at Bishop Carroll, and Sydney is a 5th grader at SFA. We feel truly blessed to be members of this great parish.

This year’s stewardship theme is “Fiat.” This is Mary’s yes to the Lord. Mary’s yes is a response to God, just as God is calling us to say yes to His will for our lives. Similar in a way is stewardship, which is defined as 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. For us, living the stewardship way of life merged from two very different paths.

I grew up in a loving non-religious family in El Dorado. I attended public school. I did not attend church, and I had no formal religious education. Though I always felt a connection with God, I really had no understanding of the Catholic faith or any other religion. It wasn’t until I met Cathy that I started attending Mass here at SFA and began the journey that led me here in front of you today.

Cathy: I was born and raised in a loving, faith-devoted Catholic family. I attended public schools and CCD (now called Parish School of Religion), but I never felt any different or deprived in my faith formation as my parents were the first and foremost teachers of my Catholic faith. My mom and dad taught and showed their four children daily that God came first, others second, and ourselves last. We prayed as a family, never missed Sunday Mass no matter where we were, went to confession on weekends, and money always went into the basket, but I never associated this to stewardship. I had a general idea of stewardship, but it wasn’t until later that I truly understood.

My stewardship journey was a leap of faith that I needed to discover for myself. Upon college graduation, I began teaching fourth grade at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and began sharing more of my time, talents and treasure. Growing up here at SFA, I recall Fr. McGread’s stewardship when he said, “You will never find a U-Haul behind a hearse,” but one of his other statements that really stood out over the years was that if you were worse off after you had tithed, he would personally go and write a check to reimburse you. As our stewardship has increased, God has provided, and I have never felt the need for one of those checks as we put our faith in God.

Ron: As my love for Cathy and our relationship grew, we attended Catholic Engaged Encounter. Fr. Lanzrath led the wonderful marriage preparation program where couples prepare to receive the sacrament of marriage. It was here that I began to learn more about the Catholic faith. It was at this time that I first said yes to the Lord and I made the decision to begin the Right of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) process. I was confirmed into the Catholic Faith in 2002. Cathy and I were married, and as my faith grew in the Catholic Church, so did our thoughts on stewardship.

Cathy: Our most intense feelings and thoughts on the stewardship way of life can’t really be explained unless we tell you of our family history of parish life. When we were first married and our careers began to flourish, our stewardship of sharing our time, talent and treasure seemed a bit uninspired and mechanical. That was until our family began to grow. As our family grew, I felt a calling to step away from my teaching career and focus more of my attention to raising our children. Though taking a hit in income, Ron and I were able to maintain our annual tithing to the church. As the children grew, I was able to more regularly volunteer my time and talent to SFA. With Ron’s busy work schedule, he still found time to volunteer to coach our kid’s various sports teams, became a den leader in Cub Scouts, currently participates in Boy Scouts, and enjoys the fellowship of playing basketball with fellow parishioners.

As our kids got older, I found myself getting more and more involved. I served on the Home & School Parent Teacher Organization, where I have met and made many wonderful friends. We gladly help the administration, teachers and staff in any way when called upon, including helping construct our awesome playground and painting multiplication facts on the stairs in our school. I find true joy and peace knowing that no matter how big or small, our participation matters. But more importantly, stewardship isn’t what you do but who you are as a disciple of Christ.

Ron: We truly value our SFA parish family. When one of our children developed a serious health issue and with the recent loss of my father, we received an outpouring of love, kindness and support from this wonderful parish. Fr. Jarrod stated in a recent pastoral address that you invest in what you value, and we are here to tell you that the Nuessens value our SFA Parish Family.

Each year we evaluate our stewardship of sharing our time, talent and treasure, and challenge ourselves to match or increase at least one of these in some small way. We encourage each of you to prayerfully consider how the Lord has blessed you and your families and where the Lord is calling you to serve. We pray that you make your own grateful response to God no matter how big or small. Every gift matters to our parish.

Thank you and God bless.