As you continue to reflect on your commitment to St. Clare’s please take some time to read the parishioner reflections which were also presented at all Masses on November 9th & 10th.


Tithing Talk - Patricia Padavano

Good evening.  My name is Pat Padavano.  A few years ago, Father Richard asked me if I would speak about tithing during a weekend Mass – and I did – so imagine my surprise when he asked me to speak with you again.  To be honest, I did not jump at the chance – and even after accepting, I had a very difficult time composing this talk.

 

The last time I spoke I concluded with the fact that we are a family, a faith family, and as a family we must take care of our home, St. Clare’s.

 

The idea of St.Clare’s as a family was never so clear to me than on October 26, 2010.  That day my late husband Lou and I were given the devastating news he had terminal cancer.  We left the doctor’s office and drove directly here to our faith home, for strength, anointing and consolation.  For the next 10 months our St. Clare family, headed by Fr. Rich and his brother priests walked a difficult road step by step with us.  The love, prayers and strength we received from them and so many of you, carried us and since then me, thru.

 

I am telling you this because since then 2 priests have left, 1 visiting priest has spent summers with us, Msgr. Murphy has moved back home to St. Clare’s and 2 new priests have come to us.  To us, the family of St. Clare, we remain, we are St. Clare’s, we are the family, the strength and the love.  We must nurture and protect our faith family and our faith home.  

 

I know, financially, this is a trying time for all of us.  I, like you, have seen each of my bills increase more than once since the last tithing campaign.   Between E-Z Pass, utilities, taxes, cell phones, tuition, etc., it is hard to keep our heads above water.  Month after month, we roll with it because the bills need to be paid or we will lose those services.  Well, here at St. Clare’s our expenses have also increased – yet many of our donations remain the same. This is why, throughout this tithing campaign, we are being asked to increase our giving. We need to work together to keep Saint Clare’s strong; we need to know it will be here for us and our families, today and for the future.

 

Please include your donation to St. Clare’s with all your bills; you can even arrange automatic online payments.  We may not get sent a bill but we know what it costs to run a family home and we must share in the cost to run our faith home, St. Clare’s. If we all increase as much as we can we will see our faith home and family, thrive.

You can register your increase on line at the St. Clare website or there are envelopes for your convenience in each pew. God bless you and thank you for listening and for the important role you play in our St. Clare family.

Tithing Talk - Bebe Kuck

My first thought about speaking today.......Oh no_  But it’s hard to say that to Father Richard.  So here I am.

 

My name is Bebe Kuck.  I’m a wife, mother, and grandmother, and have been a part of St. Clare Parish for 45 years.

My children received their sacraments here, were altar servers, graduated from the grammar school, enjoyed the sports activities, as well as the Boy Scout and Girl Scout programs.

I was active in Mother’s Club, taught Religious Education for many years, was involved with our parish retreats, Renew, Small Christian Communities and Bread for the World; now I’m a lector.

This parish, this church has been an integral part of my life.

 

 I am a firm believer in giving back, whether it is my time, talent or money.        

When it comes to tithing two things come to mind.....my gratitude for all of God’s blessings and a sense of responsibility.

I want St. Clare’s with all its wonderful people and programs to be here for my children and for your children, the next generation of Catholics, as they face life’s challenges.

 

I read some background on tithing and what stuck in my head was a statement that said, “Tithing is like training wheels when it comes to giving.  It is intended to help get you started, but not recommended for the Tour de France”.

In our home tithing has always been budgeted from “our” money, that is, my husband’s income.

Over the years, I have come to realize that I am called to tithe my part-time earnings, and not just give whatever is in my wallet at the moment.

 

We all have lots of expenses.  Sometimes it can be overwhelming.

The same is true of our parish. If everyone increases their contribution even a small amount, it will have an enormous impact.

You might consider the Online Giving option which can simplify your budgeting and record keeping.  Giving electronically also helps the church save money and plan its budget.

 

Please make a commitment to the future of St. Clare.  If you forgot your tithing envelope at home, there are envelopes in the pews.  Please fill them out and drop them in the basket.  You can use this envelope to mark the beginning of your increased giving or to sign up for Online giving, or you can go to our website, www.stclaresi.com.  

 

Pray about what God is asking of you.  Build your tithe into your budget, and try to make it a reflection of your faith and trust in the Lord.

Words in the Prayer of St. Francis encourage us..... “For it is in giving that we receive”.

Tithing Talk - Rick Olsen

Hello! My name is Rick Olsen. My family and I have been parishioners here at St. Clare’s for 19 years and Fr. Richard has asked me to speak to you today about the increased giving campaign.

 

I have had the honor and pleasure of serving on the Parish Council and have been on the Finance Council for the last 4 years and I am continually amazed by the vibrancy of this Parish! Before joining these groups, I thought I knew what went on at St. Clare’s. What I learned is that I had barely scratched the surface. It is not one of those parishes that only comes alive on the weekend; rather our Parish is alive 7 days a week and almost 24 hours a day. I think the only time the parking lot is empty is at 2AM!

 

All of this happens because of one thing: you – the parishioners of St. Clare’s. You make the Feast of St. Clare come alive; you make the St. Vincent de Paul pantry a resource to those who need it; you fill this Church and celebrate our children receiving their First Communion; you respond to our neighbors in times of need, be it Hurricane Sandy, illness or grieving the loss of a loved one.  These are just a few examples of the myriad of things happening on any given day, with one common denominator: the Parish of St. Clare.

 

Being on the Finance Council for the last several years, making sure we have the resources to enable everything that goes on here is a daunting task that doesn’t get easier year to year for the administrative team here. The last few years in particular have been challenging for us all, as individuals and as a Parish. Stretching a dollar to make ends meet does not get easier.  I have seen firsthand how everyone here works very hard to get the most out of every dollar that comes in; how both staff and volunteers try to come up with new ideas to either find funding sources such as grants or donations, or cut costs and still serve the mission of St. Clare’s. But there is only so much they can do and if we want St. Clare’s to keep doing all that it does, and stay the vibrant, independent parish that it is, we need to try to help as best we can. This is up to each of us – to prayerfully decide if we can increase our weekly contribution. And there is the convenience of doing so online at www.stclaresi.com/giving or via the traditional envelope method. Either way, St. Clare’s needs your help.

 

So I think this is what God asks of all of us: I have given you much; will it hurt you to share a bit of it, just a little bit more? God has already given us the gift of living in the greatest country on Earth with boundless opportunities, what makes us think He is stopping there? I ask you to think about the blessings God has given you and how you are giving back to Him and His Church. Do you have room for giving a little bit more each week? It’s a discussion between you and Him, and only the two of you will know the answer.

 

Thank you for your time and attention and may God bless you all.

Tithing Talk - Judy Kneeshaw

Good afternoon, My name is Judy Kneeshaw, and I’m a life-long parishioner of St. Clare’s. When Fr. Richard asked me to speak to you about the increased giving campaign, I sat down to gather my thoughts. First, I’ll introduce myself, I thought, Then I realized that my story is precisely why I wanted to speak about this important topic.  My family and I tithe because I can’t tell my story without talking about this parish.

As a graduate and now a teacher at St. Clare’s, this parish is as much a part of my life and my memories as my home. The parish supported my parents as they taught me right from wrong, and it was watching my mom volunteer for years in our Religious Education program and seeing my dad up on the roof of the chapel hammering away that I learned that giving back was the thing to do.

After I got married and we were looking for a house, it became obvious to my husband that it didn’t matter the condition of  the house, it just better be in Great Kills. I didn’t want to change my parish.

Reflecting on this, I began to wonder why membership in St. clare’s was so important to me. Standing up on this altar brings back wonderful memories of receiving my sacraments and graduating from our school.  Getting married and having our daughter baptized here seemed as natural and comforting as going to my parents’ for dinner. I know I’m not alone, either. Every year I meet parents who, like me, are graduates who chose to stay local and send their children to St. Clare’s.

As an adult, our Parentcare programs supported me as I took my first steps into parenthood and the wonderful volunteer “grandmas” taught my daughter, Sarah, that this place was a loving place. Our school and religious ed program help all of us parents as we seek to instill our values, rather than the world’s, in our children.

I’ve seen first-hand how much of a support system this parish is for so many others, as well.  Given that,  how can we not give back? Too often when the topic of increased giving is mentioned, we think of the Church with its hand out.  We have lots of expenses, how can they expect us to give more when we are struggling at home? I’d like to ask you to take a moment and look carefully at that outstretched hand. The hand that St. Clare’s has extended is giving a lot more than it is asking for. That hand is offering help to parents struggling against the popular culture and families struggling with unemployment. That hand puts itself around the shoulder of a family mourning a loss and gives food to a family in need. It was one of the first hands to reach out to us after Hurricane Sandy.

I can only speak from personal experience, but whatever we have given to St. Clare’s pales in comparison to what we have been given by St. Clare’s. It has been and continues to be a challenge to increase our charitable contributions, and we have had to cut back in some areas, but our family has made a commitment that this parish won’t be one of them.  Reflection and prayer about giving back has led our family to build giving into our budget. Since we began using the online giving option, it allows us to easily budget how much we give each week and I don’t have to worry about missing envelopes! If you're interested in this convenient option check out our parish website for more information and a link to sign up.

It’s not a matter of writing a large check. It’s simply keeping St. Clare’s at the top of our budget plan and increasing our donations as we can. As we say in our home, “When we get a raise, St. Clare’s gets a raise.”  Thank you for your consideration of this important issue in the life of our parish.

Tithing Talk - Michael Christiano

        

Good Morning. Most of you know me by my name or by face. We are after all the 7 am mass family. I’m Michael Christiano and I have been a parishioner here since 1977. I have raised my children here, sent them all to St. Clare’s School, my daughter was married here and my grandchildren were baptized here.

This is my spiritual home and yours. We have the best pre-school, grammar school, and religious education programs in the archdiocese. We have this magnificent church, our chapel, Cardinal Cooke Center, sports programs and on and on.

It costs millions of dollars to run St. Clare’s - millions. Under the stewardship of Msgrs. Murphy and Guastella, this parish has become the largest in the archdiocese. After Msgr. Murphy retired it continued to run. When Msgr. Guastella retires it will continue to run. So it must be self-sufficient.

About 17 years ago, I began tithing. Not all at once, but gradually. I’ve been doing it ever since. Tithing is 10% of your income, but St. Clare’s says make it 5% and give 5% to the other charities you may choose. If you can’t tithe, consider increasing your weekly gift by $5, $10 or whatever you can afford. I wouldn’t ask you to do anything I haven’t already done or continue to do.

A quick story, one day on my daily walk, I looked down on the street and found this picture of Jesus preaching to his disciples. On the back of the card it said:

  25 Therefore I tell you do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feed them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can anyone of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow, is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you - you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all of these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Every good thing we get, we get from God. We can never repay Him. We can’t earn heaven; he has already done that for us. Should we not be as generous as we can? Like the woman in the gospel who gave from her “want”.

Finally, you may use online giving, or continue to use your envelopes, but please consider an increase in your donation. There are envelopes in the pews with pens inside. Fill them out and the ushers will collect them: or take them home and pray over them, please.

Two last points. Many of you are on fixed incomes, me too. However, I’ve never seen an armored car following a hearse. When we go, Jesus will ask us for an account of our stewardship. We receive every good thing in this parish; lets show God how grateful we are.

Thank you and God Bless You.

Tithing Talk - Jim Flood

Good Morning. My name is Jim Flood. My wife and I have been members of St. Clare’s Parish for more than 41 years. We have been blessed with four children and, as of October 1st, eight grandchildren. All four of our children have attended St. Clare’s School; two of the four were baptized here; all four received their other sacraments here; three of the four were married here and five ( soon to be six ) of our eight grandchildren were baptized here. I feel that we have been blessed beyond our expectations and certainly beyond our deserving.

When we joined St. Clare’s Msgr. Flanagan was the Pastor. Since then we have had Msgr. Keogh, Msgr. Murphy and our current Pastor, Msgr. Guastella. Our Pastors and priests come and go but WE, you and I, are St. Clare’s. It is up to us to insure that this parish - our parish - continues for our children and grandchildren.

We are certainly in hard economic times. Nobody knows that better than those of us on fixed incomes. Those economics apply equally to our parish. St. Clare’s has a very large physical plant. The Church, School, Presentation Center, Chapel, Cardinal Cooke Center, Murphy Center and Rectory all require the same things our homes require, heat, electricity, phone service, etc. all to support the many programs the parish offers. All of these, as you know, cost money.

When I first heard about tithing I thought it seemed very “Old Testament” but, I thought, 10% doesn’t sound like much. Then the engineer in me came out and so did the calculator. Before I figured it out my wife had already written the check. You see she’s the bookkeeper in the house and, if she says we can do it, we can do it.

As I said previously, St. Clare’s has the same bills as anyone running a household has, only larger.And, like anyone else, as times goes on the bills get higher. So, from time to time, we should examine what we give and consider an increase. Because of the economy some can’t afford to increase their donations, that’s fine. Give what you can but, before making a decision, put serious thought into it. The decision is between you and God and the two of you are the only ones that have to be comfortable with it. Don’t do it  to please anyone. Do it because you want to. If you listen to the gospel story of the widow’s mite you understand it is not what you give but the spirit in which you give. In the story of the loaves and fishes, God takes what He is given and multiplies it many fold.

Does this mean that by giving or increasing your giving your life will be paradise? No, it means that, when you lay your head down at night you can rest with the satisfaction that you have done the best you can. Remember, the only person you can’t fool is the one that looks back at you in the mirror!

As you make your decision I pray that the Lord will bless and keep you; that He will cause His face to shine upon you, be gracious to you and grant you peace and that the blessings of the Almighty God will descend upon you and remain with you forever.

Thank you for your attention.