Good Morning. My name is Joseph Salzone. I was asked to give a talk on my personal journey into stewardship.
First I need to give you a very brief history of my life. I moved from Brooklyn to West Babylon in 1986. Like many adults in there 20’s, the only time I was in a church was to attend a wedding. However, one Sunday afternoon at a family dinner, I met a guest who happened to be a priest. His name was Father Robert Hyatt and he was the Chaplain for this area. Every day, 7 days a week, he would say Sunday Mass at a local Nursing Home located between Bay Shore and Amityville. We soon became close friends and one day he asked me to serve Mass for him. I loyally served him for over 20 years starting in the original Our Lady of Consolation Chapel in North Amityville. Then in Brunswick Hospital. Then in South Oaks Hospital. Sadly, Super Bowl Sunday 2010 was the last mass I served for him. He became seriously ill that day and passed away a few months later.
From the day I started serving for him in 1987, Father Hyatt always wanted me to support Our Lady of Grace. Sadly, it wasn’t until the end of 1996, 9 years later, when my twin girls needed to be baptized, did I become a parishioner.
Although I wasn’t attending Mass here, Father kept urging me to get involved. So, in 1997, I became a Catechist in the Confirmation program and also started mailing in a monthly envelope.
For the following 10 years I did the exactly the same; never doing less and never doing more. Then in 2008, something changed. Without a reason, I doubled my contribution; at the same time switching over from envelopes to electronic giving. Additionally, I started looking for more activities I could be a part of. For example, I volunteered to work the annual summer feast. You may remember me as the one walking around with a pointy stick and a garbage bag picking up cigarette butts. Then, reading in the bulletin, I saw an opening for a parish trustee. I nominated myself, was chosen and started serving in January 2009.
My first meeting at the Financial Council was a shocker. It was my initial introduction to all we do and the amount of money needed to run the parish. Feeling I wasn’t doing my part, the next day I called Betty Duffy and doubled my contribution.
Financially, I know how the parish has been struggling over the years. So with every raise I received at work, I would increase my contribution. And after listening to Father Vin’s state of the parish speech last week, I again raised my contribution. How can I ask you to do more if I don’t do my part?
As a side note, I find electronic giving works perfect for me. My credit card is charged at the beginning of each month.
Additionally, due to my daughter’s Dance and Gymnastics Competitions, Vacations and visiting my oldest daughter who lives upstate, I’m away 12 times a year. So by giving electronically, I’m financially supporting Our Lady of Grace, even when I’m not here.
I urge you to read and fill out the purple handout located in the pews. If you have any questions, Betty Duffy will be in the lobby after Mass.
For many years, I thought being a good disciple meant going to Mass each week. How wrong I was. Once I came to the realization that being a Christian is more than just going to Mass, I found myself wanting to give more of my entire self. This year, I am now part of RCIA and will soon be teaching Adult Faith Formation Classes. The more I became engaged in parish activities, the more I took ownership.
Those here in the Church today who already give of themselves, and there are many, know the great feeling of helping others.
For the rest, I ask you do some soul searching. Read the bulletin. If you see a ministry seeking help, give thought to joining. Also, pay attention to the financial report each week. Find the strength to increase your contribution. I urge you to give electronically, so we receive your gift, even if you aren’t here. Reach out and help Our Lady of Grace survive through this tough financial time.
Once we recognize that we are a parish, not a Church, we will be successful in our Mission – To change lives through the Risen Christ.
I would like to conclude with my favorite reading from scriptures:
The Lord said:
When I was hungry, you fed me.
Thirsty, you gave me drink.
A stranger, you took me into your home.
Naked, you clothe me.
Sick, you took care of me.
In prison, you visited me.
They said, we did not know you Lord. When did we do these to you?
The Lord answered, when you did these to the least of one of my brothers, you did it unto me.
Looking back to 2008, I can only believe it was the Holy Spirit preparing me to step into full stewardship.
May God Bless You as he has done to me.