Stewardship Lay Witness: Dan & Lori Hamel

Berry Family

The following is from the testimony the Hamels gave during Mass as part of our parish's annual Stewardship Renewal in November 2021.

Lori: We have been St. Francis parishioners since 1985 (36 years). We have two sons, Alex and Andrew, who are both engaged to be married in 2022. They attended St. Francis and Bishop Carroll schools.

I grew up in Spearville, east of Dodge City, in a traditional Catholic family. With seven children, my parents had their hands full raising kids on a dairy farm. It was a happy childhood surrounded by friends and family. Spearville was 95% Catholic; our life was centered around church, community soup suppers, and sports. It wasn't until junior high that my view of the world broadened when I realized there were other religions.

My parent's view of the Stewardship Way of Life was different than what I experienced when I began attending St. Francis of Assisi after college. When Dan and I were dating we attended Mass at St. Francis and heard Msgr. McGread's wonderful sermons of why stewardship was important.

Dan: I grew up in the Salina Diocese in the Hays/Plainville area. Stewardship was a word I heard back then, but I didn't associate it with church. My parents and grandparents taught us the definition of stewardship by example, how they cared for their families, farms, community, and their church. They also showed us by example how to put faith and trust at the center of our lives.

After college I moved to Wichita and attended All Saints. At All Saints, I met Msgr. Hurtle who provided me my first lesson in stewardship. He explained it was three T's: time, talent and treasure. He recommended starting small and build on it through life. Regarding treasure, he encouraged me to come up with an amount I was comfortable with and try it for a year. Then each year increase my Stewardship gift until I reached the recommended 8% to 10% and the other T's would follow. We have consistently followed this advice.

Lori and I were married in her home parish in Spearville. Growing up I had a spiritual mentor, family friend Fr. Basil Pennington, a priest and Trappist Monk. Fr. Basil traveled from China to Spearville to marry us; this was a huge blessing to both of us. As a married couple, we settled on the west side of Wichita, and I joined Lori at St. Francis.

Lori: We wanted a Catholic education for our boys. When they started school at St. Francis and through their years at Bishop Carroll, we really started to see the Stewardship Way of Life in action. We began to understand what it meant to our church family and friends.

Each year when the Stewardship forms arrived, we would review them and find ways to get involved, individually and as a family such as Offertory Gifts, Greeters and Elijah Cup. Each year, we tried to add one new item to get involved. With the boys in school there were plenty of opportunities to get involved with time and talent.

After the boys graduated from Bishop Carroll, Dan and I decided to push ourselves to do something as a couple. We choose the Sunday Morning Adult Bible Study since it fit our 8:30 am Mass routine. Three years later, we are still involved and now coordinate this activity. In 2020 we were asked to be on the Stewardship Committee to assist with the Stewardship message for the parish.

Dan: I started Perpetual Adoration when we were expecting our oldest and have continued for 29 years. My hour is Friday night at 9. It is my transitional hour from the work week to the weekend. Being part of the Adult Bible Study has helped us be more comfortable with reading and understanding the Bible. It has been a positive way to meet new people and explore our faith.

We think stewardship and life go hand and hand. Both are built on another "T" word: "trust." To trust, you must have faith. During our 33 years of marriage, we have experienced life's challenges. Almost without fail when life deals us a challenging blow, God sends us a reminder he is with us. That message is the song "Be Not Afraid"; it shows up at the right time and helps us focus.

Lori: The song "Be Not Afraid" speaks to us in that God will always be there and to trust in him. We have experienced this over and over in our lives. We have received so many blessings and trusted in God in making major decisions for our family. I believe that is the Stewardship message.

During the past two years "Be Not Afraid" and putting your faith and trust into God has really hit home. First it was the pandemic that turned our lives into a roller coaster. Then on the personal side, we have lost seven family members in the past 14 months. Multiple times as we dealt with end-of-life issues with these family members, we would hear "Be Not Afraid," and it reminded us to put our trust in our faith to make decisions.

We ask you prayerfully consider and challenge yourself to one new stewardship activity this year. If you are unsure, start with something small that will push you in a new direction. Approach your new challenge with an open mind. Don't overlook your importance to our church community. Participating in events, smiling and greeting the person next to you, and being in the pew every weekend supports the entire community with our shared faith.

Dan: We will close by asking you to do these five things:

  1. Have faith and trust in God.
  2. Be receptive to offer your time, talent and treasure to St. Francis.
  3. If you aren't tithing, start with a percentage amount you are comfortable with, give consistently, and increase it each year moving toward a goal of 8%
  4. Turn in your stewardship forms.
  5. When you get nervous or unsure about your commitment, listen to the song "Be Not Afraid," put your trust in God, and take that leap of faith.

Thank you for letting us share our stewardship story with you. See you in Mass!