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...recognizing our gifts of time, talent and treasure

Summer 2011

reflections... a newsletter from the Stewardship and Development Office

. . . a Reflection on Seminary Life by Greg Gerhart

I have come so that they may have life, and have it to the full. –Jn 10:10 We, the Diocese of Austin, the Catholic Church of Central Texas through the Word and Eucharist, prayer, formation and education, social ministries and advocacy, embrace diverse cultures throughout the diocese so that together, as the Catholic Church, we may continue the mission of Christ in the world today.

Stewardship and Development Office Diocese of Austin 6225 Highway 290 E. Austin, TX 78723 (512) 949-2400

Most Rev. Joe S. Vásquez Bishop of Austin

Scott Whitaker Director of Stewardship and Development

Bob Vallilee

Life in the seminary is far from ordinary. As a second-year Pre-Theology student at St. Joseph Seminary College in Covington, LA, I wish everyone had the opportunity to experience the abundant life of a seminarian. It is with joy that I describe a “typical” day in the life of a seminarian, if such a thing exists! Seminary formation is unique for every man who attends. The students at St. Joseph’s are just as diverse as any 75 men, but we are united in our call to holiness, which has led us to discern the priesthood. I began thinking of the priesthood when I was nine years old, and I remained open to the call throughout high school and college. It wasn’t until a meeting with my spiritual director during my senior year of college that I admitted, “When I think of growing in holiness, and when I think of picking up my cross and following Christ, I think of the priesthood.” At that moment, the Holy Spirit came over me and, in an overwhelming experience of joy and peace, took away all my fears and instilled in me a great excitement for the priesthood. I applied to St. Joseph’s soon after, and my experience of seminary has been even greater than I imagined at that moment.

Associate Director of Stewardship and Development

Ginger Davenport Director of School Development

Emily Powers Ender Executive Assistant

The Catholic Diocese of Austin

A typical day in my life as a seminarian begins with an hour of personal prayer. Community activities include Morning and Evening Prayer, meals, and Mass with the Benedictine monks who administer our seminary. As a full-time undergraduate student, I am also taking 15 hours of academic classes, ranging from Metaphysics to Catholic Social Doctrine, as well as formation classes with topics such as Theology of the Body and Pastoral Charity. In addition, I have had the opportunity to practice what I am learning by volunteering at a retirement home, taking a mission immersion trip to Guatemala, {continued on page 2}


{continued from page 1} and helping coordinate Abbey Youth Fest — a vocations-centered youth rally hosted by our seminary. My academic responsibilities are more than enough to keep me busy when I’m not in meetings, class, or prayer, but I do find time for physical exercise and developing fraternal bonds with my brother seminarians as well. I answer jokingly to friends and family that seminary life amounts to nothing more than praying, studying, eating, and sleeping. It doesn’t seem very exciting according to the world’s standards, but the rhythm of life as a seminarian has brought me greater joy than I have ever known, as well as the greatest trials I’ve ever endured. I am convinced that trials and joys are opposite sides of the same coin of God’s love. The trials of seminary life have given me the joy of gaining a wealth of self-knowledge, developing a true love for learning, and most important, growing in a genuine, authentic relationship with the Lord. After graduation from St. Joseph’s this May, I will move on to study theology in the fall, and God willing, I will be ordained to the priesthood in five years! Please keep me in your prayers and know that you are in mine. Thank you for your prayerful and financial support, without which I could not pursue my vocation. God bless you! Greg Gerhart is a seminarian for the Diocese of Austin.

T H A N K YOU . . . for your ongoing support and generosity to the Our Faith ~ Our Legacy campaign. Your contributions to this effort have allowed the Diocese of Austin to: • Build a retirement center for priests in Georgetown • Fund an endowment for Catholic Campus Ministry at our colleges and universities in Central Texas • Provide much-needed financial support directly to our parishes

Why do we celebrate Easter with Easter eggs? One tradition holds that the Easter egg originates with St. Mary Magdalene, who was among the first to encounter the risen Christ. When she later met the Roman emperor at a dinner party, she greeted him with the Easter message, “Christ is risen!” The emperor replied, “Your Christ could no more rise from the dead than the egg in your hand could turn red.” Immediately, the egg turned bright red. Mary Magdalene was a first-century woman who followed Jesus, supporting his community of disciples out of her private means. Cured of possession, she was devoted to Jesus and was present at His crucifixion. On Easter morning, she went to the garden where Jesus’ tomb was located in order to anoint His body. There she encountered the risen Lord, who sent her to tell the other disciples the Good News. St. Mary Magdalene continued to preach the Gospel throughout her life. She is the patroness of the Order of Preachers and is sometimes called “the Apostle to the Apostles” because it was she who announced the Resurrection to the Eleven: “I have seen the Lord.” Her feast day is July 22.

Source: Mary Magdalene is mentioned by name in all four Gospels. Versions of the Resurrection appearance to her occur at Mt 28, Mk 16, Lk 24, and Jn 20.

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Easter is a joyful season lasting 50 days, from the early hours of the Resurrection of the Lord (Easter Sunday) through Pentecost. In the first few days of Easter, many families may dye Easter eggs or celebrate the blessing of homes. Yet, after the first burst of joy on Easter Sunday, our awareness of Easter’s blessings may fade. And, after Lent’s 40 days of fasting, almsgiving, and prayer, 50 days of celebration may seem like even more of a stretch! The following are suggestions to help your family continue the spiritual growth of Lent and enliven your Easter rejoicing from a stewardship perspective.

Gratitude

Your Church Family

Sharing

Stewardship as a way of life begins with gratitude to God for all that we have. Easter is the celebration that through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, we are adopted into His Resurrection. This is indeed reason to rejoice! Find new and creative ways to give thanks to God: • Learn a new song, prayer, or poem of praise and thanksgiving. Sing or say it every day, as if only God is listening. • Find someone or something new to be grateful for each day. • Say grace before and after every meal. Encourage everyone to take turns offering the blessing.

During Easter, the newly confirmed and baptized, or “the fully initiated,” enter the period of mystagogia, when they are guided to find their “place” within their new church family. This is your church family, too! Prayerfully consider your place in building up the local and universal Church: • As a family, discuss new ministry opportunities. Talk about your gifts and ways to share them. • Join a summer Bible camp or Bible study. • Remember the fully initiated in prayer. Get to know them before or after Mass. Invite them to share ministry with you or join your family for a meal.

During Lent, we practice almsgiving as an act of penitence. But, charity doesn’t end with Lent! During Easter, we recognize that the gift we have been given in Christ is so great, we ourselves cannot contain it. Let your cup overflow and share the bounty of Easter: • Go on a service vacation or family retreat over the summer. • Support a mission financially, or make an additional contribution to the offertory. • Be abundantly kind to every person you meet. Let the Good News of Jesus’ Resurrection shine through you.

With a fuller appreciation for the supreme gift we are given in Christ, we can go forth to serve Him and others, joyfully returning to God a share of the good gifts He has given to us.

Christ is risen, alleluia, alleluia! diocese of austin

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The Path to Financial Freedom

There are three ways of life when it comes to managing finances. All too common is the temptation to live above your means. This lifestyle may allow for more material comforts and instant gratification of your desires. But, it will also mean increasing debt and stress, which take away both financial and spiritual freedom. Another choice is to live within your means. Most of us assume this is the right way to live. It will lead to a steady, balanced cash flow and freedom from the bondage of debt and financial worries.

If you consider all of Yet, there is a third option we often don’t consider — but should: living below your money to be unyour means. This lifestyle, too, will lead to a steady, balanced cash flow and der God’s control, then freedom from debt, but it will also lead to much more. It prepares us for additional you can seek His help in blessings — the blessings of heaven. every decision about maIn the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives us an excellent outline for the real goal terial things. What a relief! of good stewardship: God is not only the owner of our possessions; He is also our “DO NOT STORE UP FOR YOURSELVES TREASURES ON EARTH, advisor on how to manage them WHERE MOTH AND DECAY DESTROYS, AND THIEVES BREAK all. Our only challenge is to have IN AND STEAL. BUT STORE UP TREASURES IN HEAVEN” the trust and courage to put all our (Mt 6:19-20). blessings before Him and seek His wisdom in prayer. Why? Because, Jesus says, the wealth of this world doesn’t last, but our treasure in heaven is eternal.

11 ideas for financial freedom & biblical simplicity: Plan ahead Budget

This is the kind of wealth God wants for us — the kind that “neither moth nor decay destroy, nor thieves break in and steal” (Mt 6:20). Jesus also teaches that the only way we can build up our heavenly treasure is by giving up our attachment to earthly treasures — in essence, by becoming free.

No credit cards

Striving for true financial freedom is an exciting and wonderful way to live. As we spend less by adopting a different, more frugal lifestyle, money will be available to take the pain out of unexpected bills. More important, we will be freed from the debt, stress, and attachment that keep our spirits tied to this world, and can then give ourselves more fully to God.

Don’t keep what you don’t need Do without Accept less convenience Fix, don’t replace

Sometimes God blesses us materially and enables us to enjoy our wants and desires. But often He doesn’t. Instead, He desires to teach us wisdom, contentment and frugality to enable us to have the freedom — materially and spiritually — to build up our treasure with Him in heaven.

Keep the old one Less, not more Smaller, not bigger Simple pleasures

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The

Young Church Truly Alive !

PH OT their schools, famiOS CO UR lies and communities and TE SY OF SU see brokenness and refuse to be ND AY ’S C HI defined by it. The young church today is LD SN AP SH hungry for the opportunity to share the dynamic OT S love of our Savior with the whole world. Ministry to young people forms the third pillar of the Diocese of Austin’s Pastoral Plan. Our role is to provide opportunities for ownership, leadership and training so that our youth are well equipped to lead today’s Church. DCYC is merely a piece in the greater picture of dynamic ministry to youth, young adults and college students within the Diocese of Austin. Young Adult groups have been forming throughout Central Texas, and members attend functions like Theology on Tap and Spirit and Truth in addition to their regular gatherings. Over 60 Youth Ministers attended the Basic Training in Catholic Youth Ministry Retreat last spring. The Catholic Church has always found a rich return on our investment in our youth. The young church stood strong crying out their love of God for three glorious days at DCYC in Waco this past January. Are we as a Church brave enough to allow them to do the same in our parish communities? Young people respond dynamically to every investment we make in them, and the fruit they bear will nourish the Church for generations to come.

The Diocesan Catholic Youth Conference, or DCYC, completed its 53rd annual conference late this January in Waco. Over 1,800 high school youth, along with their parish youth ministry leaders and family members, packed into the Waco Convention Center to celebrate their faith and encounter a God whose love is “Limitless.” Jesse Manibusan, a nationally known Catholic speaker, shared the message that young people are the Church alive today, loved by God and their community, while the Catholic band Soundwave kept the energy going. The three-day conference also featured breakout sessions, opportunities for Reconciliation and Adoration, and entertaining activities throughout the Convention Center. Nearly 80 parishes from the Diocese of Austin were present during DCYC. This longstanding event communicates a clear message to young people that they are relevant in the Church today and worthy of carrying the flame of faith into tomorrow. Teens who attend DCYC leave with a new energy to live and celebrate their faith. At this year’s concluding Mass, Bishop Joe Vásquez encouraged those present to go out and share God’s love in their schools, communities, and, most important, in their families. Many families are spiritually renewed by the young Church when they are empowered to let their light of faith shine. Some teenagers returned home from DCYC determined to make Mass a family activity every Sunday, not just on Christmas and Easter. Other students asked their parents if they could be taken to Eucharistic Adoration. This type of transformation is not uncommon. Today, young people are hungry for a faith encounter that goes beyond the rhythm of their weekly routine. They desire to have ownership over that which matters most. They look around

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Chris Bartlett is Director of Youth, Young Adult, and Campus Ministry for the Diocese of Austin. Youth, Young Adult, and Campus Ministry is supported in part by the Catholic Services Appeal.

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NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION U.S. POSTAGE PAID AUSTIN, TEXAS PERMIT NO. 1504

Stewardship and Development Office Diocese of Austin 6225 Highway 290 E. Austin, TX 78723

RETURN SERVICE REQUESTED

L EAVING A LEGACY R E M E M B E R I N G LANSING AND LINDA PRESCOTT grew up in Texas and Oklahoma: Linda in Port Arthur and Lansing in Oklahoma City and Houston. They met at Rice University, where Lansing majored in Biology and Linda in Math and German. They were married in the Lutheran Church in 1964. Lansing went on to receive a masters degree in Biology (Rice) and a doctorate in Biochemistry (Brandeis). He taught Biology at Augustana, a Lutheran College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, for 30 years, and wrote a textbook in Microbiology. Upon retirement, Linda and Lansing moved to Sun City in Georgetown. In the fall of 1999, Lansing began the RCIA class at St. Helen Parish in Georgetown and entered the Church the next April. Linda was received

Y O U R

C H U R C H

into the Catholic Church a year and a half later. The Prescotts’ faith journey has led them to an appreciation for the Catholic Church as the Church founded by Jesus, consistently teaching His message and offering all seven sacraments. Since entering into full communion with the Catholic Church, their religious life has become even deeper and more meaningful. Both Linda and Lansing are Eucharistic Ministers and Sacristans, help with Perpetual Adoration, are volunteers with Meals on Wheels and Faith in Action Caregivers, and schedule the parish’s collection counters. Linda is a Cantor for Saturday Masses. Lansing teaches classes in the Bible, Church history, and the Catechism. He also helps with RCIA and is a member of the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites. They contribute financially to a number of Catholic and charitable causes.


Reflections Summer 2011