Monday, February 2, 2009
This article from the January electornic newsletter of the Stewardship Office of the Cleveland Dicoese fetures Melissa Keegan, pastoral associate at Inmmaculate Conception parish in Kenmore,
Melissa Keegan, certified in 2000 as a Lay Ecclesial Minister for the Diocese of Cleveland, is in her 28th year of ministry as the Pastoral Associate at Immaculate Conception Parish in Akron. Working collaboratively with pastor, Fr. Michael B. Smith she is an example of stewardship in action.
A stewardship workshop several years ago made a tremendous impact on her life and ministry as she began to understand and embrace the concept of stewardship as a way of life. Seeing how it could make a positive impact on the life of the parish, she worked to implement stewardship at Immaculate Conception and is proud of the parish's efforts. She understands that stewardship is about giving your life in service to God and others and she tries to live that out in all she does. Personally, she shares her stewardship of time and talent and treasure with the parish, the diocese, several community organizations and beyond. She openly acknowledges that stewardship of personal time is a challenge, but remembers the words of Fr. J-Glenn Murray, S.J., "It's better to be a geyser than a mud puddle."
Melissa's "geyser" has erupted in some interesting ways as she has come to understand that everything she has, is or does is gift from God. She feels extremely blessed and, in gratitude, knows that those blessings must be shared. As a steward of the modest treasure with which she has been blessed she chooses to use it to impact the lives of those less fortunate. "God is faithful. I've never been unable to pay my bills. I've always had shelter, food and clothing. There's always been just enough."
She knows that even if we have a just a little, we should be good stewards of this 'little,' and share it with those who have nothing. For Melissa, that means sharing it with "her boys," Eneza from Tanzania, Kevin from El Salvador, and Renzo from Peru. Her sponsorship of these young people allows them to go to school and receive food and medicine. "By sponsoring these children, they have the opportunity to grow, receive an education and be all that God created them to be. Through letters, pictures, and prayer we've bonded and become part of one another's lives." She and her parish are also involved with the Diocesan Global Solidarity Water for Life Project which is working to build a water transport system to provide safe drinking water to the Narumu Secondary and Usari Primary Catholic School complex in the Diocese of Moshi, Tanzania.
How do you become a good steward? According to Melissa it's basically this: Remember that it's not about you. Realize your blessings. Develop a heart for God and others and allow God to use you according to His plan. Don't worry so much about being adequate. Open your heart and make yourself available to God."