Thank you, St. Thomas More
By Mila Glodava
From the bottom of my heart, “Thank You, St. Thomas More Parish,” for your generosity and for investing in the Philippine Church. Your investment to spread the message of stewardship in my native country is paying huge dividends (please see Father Andrew’s article "Philippine Mission" on the stewardship page) and is now blossoming. In fact, it’s bearing some seeds and planting them in neighboring countries in Asia (Myanmar) and Oceania (Guam).
Thank you also to Father Andrew, who believes in the Church’s teaching about solidarity with the poor, for his unwavering support of this mission, and to Jim O’Brien and the Stewardship Committee for seeing the value of this investment over the past 10 years.
When I first introduced stewardship to Bishop Julio X. Labayen, O.C.D., my initial thought was to share my personal experience on the topic only with my home diocese, the Prelature of Infanta. I had no grandiose plan to go beyond the prelature. For one thing, who am I to think I could do such an endeavor? I thought I would just share the message of stewardship as a way of life with my hometown of Infanta, and then return to the United States, and that would be all.
However, God had other plans. Bishop Labayen, who saw the Spirituality of Stewardship as a key to sustainability of the Church of the Poor, wanted to share it with other bishops and clergy. He remembered that during a gathering in February 1999, called, “An Encounter of the Pastor and the Flock towards a New Way of Being Church,” His Eminence Cardinal Ricardo Vidal suggested that they get together again to nurture the encounter. Bishop Labayen thought that the same group might be interested in hearing about the message of stewardship as a way of life to plant the seed of stewardship to a wider audience.
The following year Cardinal Vidal convened another gathering in Cebu with about 70 participants, including bishops, clergy and lay leaders, to “create a culture of stewardship” adopted in the reality of the Philippine Church. With the aid of Socio Pastoral Institute, under the leadership of Bishop Labayen and our mission partner, that supports dioceses in their implementation of the Church of the Poor, and with funding from St. Thomas More Parish, the 2003 conference committed to assimilate, translate and disseminate the message of stewardship in the Philippine Church. Thus, the mission partnership of St. Thomas More and the Philippine Church began and continues to this day, providing not only financial assistance but time and talent as well.
As Father Andrew stated in his article, he has traveled to the Philippines four times since 2003 for this effort, including a Day of Reflection with the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines in 2005. In addition, I have made follow-up visits to a number of dioceses and parishes that have embraced the stewardship lifestyle. Father Andrew also has inspired others who, at their own expense, have joined our mission and shared their practice of stewardship. In 2009, Stewardship Committee members Phil and Irene Lindemer saw in person how stewardship is beginning to spread in the Philippine Church. In 2013, Dr. Tim Gray, president of Augustine Institute; Rick Jeric, International Catholic Stewardship Council (ICSC) chairman of the board, and Sharon Hueckel (this was her second trip), former ICSC board member; and Terry Polakovic, executive director of ENDOW (Educating on the Nature and Dignity of Women) joined us in celebrating 10 years of stewardship in the Philippines. I also want to express my thanks and gratitude to others funders—Our Sunday Visitor, the Eleanore Mullen Weckbaugh Foundation and Cavan Corporation—for believing in our mission.
Finally, I want to thank God for leading my path and my faith journey here at St. Thomas More,which has been my faith family for nearly twenty-five years. What a blessing you have been to me and my family and to my native country.
Maraming Salamat Po!