Contagious Christmas Spirit

This weekend we took a quick road trip to North Platte.  As we often do, we stopped in Grand Island for dinner.  This time we stopped at Bosselman’s Truck Stop.  As we sat down I noticed the man in the next booth.

He must have been hungry, because there were three plates on his table, and he was dining alone.Our waitress, Shayla, was quite busy, taking care of a large section by herself, and seemed a little frazzled.  After taking our drink order, she hustled off and the gentleman got up to leave.  He said to me, “I’ve got to run, but would you tell the waitress ‘Merry Christmas’ for me?”  I said, “sure,” and he left.  He also left a $50 bill on top of his ticket.  It had to be at least a $30 tip, maybe even more.

When Shayla returned, we shared the Christmas greeting with her and her eyes welled up with tears as she shared, “I’ve got kids, this will really help with Christmas,” then she hustled off to help another table.
Inspired by the kindness of a stranger we left a $20 tip for Shayla.  Wish I could have left a $50 bill there as well, but I didn’t have that much cash on hand.

God bless the quiet generosity in our world.

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Fabulous Christmas Song

The other day I was skipping around the radio dial and happened onto the song Christmas Canon Rock, by Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

The song is a cover / reworking of Johann Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major, with Christmas lyrics. The lyrics are beutifully delivered by the talented Jennifer Cella with gusto and feeling.

Here’s a link to a YouTube video of the song – Christmas Canon Rock

It’s delightful to see a rock band incorporate so much of their faith into their music. Three of their four albums CDs feature a Christmas theme.

Thanks to Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Jennifer Cella, and all artisans who glorify God with their gifts. May God bless your work abundantly.

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Stewardship Witnesses

This weekend we are having lay persons give a witness talk about stewardship in conjunction with our parish and archdiocesan annual appeals. Our archdiocese does this each year, and I always enjoy it.

I enjoy it not only because stewardship is important to me professionally (I am the Stewardship & Development Director of our parish), but even more so because it provides yet another way to deliver an unchanging message with fresh faces, fresh ideas and fresh vitality.

My personal gratitude goes out to all those persons who have accepted the invitation to share their stewardship story with St. Gerald; for the very act of witnessing to the importance and need of stewardship is itself a profound act of stewardship!

People often confuse stewardship (a way of authentically living the Gospel) with raising money. Although treasure plays into the way we respond as stewards, it is neither the only way nor even the most important way. Investing our time to serve the Church, the Body of Christ is the most valuable exercise of stewardship.

If you are not active in your own parish, start now. Call the office, find a ministry, group or committee that would benefit from your gifts, and sign up! Your parish family needs you, the Church needs you, and most of all, our Lord Jesus Christ needs you.

Well done, good and faithful steward, well done!

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Hope for a Child

A month or so ago, our parish family collected toys, school supplies, and shoes for Iraqi children.

One of our parishioners has a brother serving in Iraq and we sent the items to him. He distributed them to the local schools, hospitals, and quite often, during patrols.

You see, American soldiers come in contact with Iraqis all the time; many times children are simply walking aimlessly around the countryside. So our soldiers visit with them, and when they have items on hand, distribute a soccer ball or doll to brighten the day of such children.

What a shame these sorts of stories are no’t highlighted in the mass media. The gift of hope is the greatest thing that can be given to such little ones.

These children have known little other than war and the horrors of a ruthless dictatorship their entire young lives.

What a precious opportunity it is for American soldiers to brighten their day with a simple toy.

Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called children of God.

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Katrina Relief Efforts

Catholic Charities is consistently among the most efficient charities in our nation. As expected, they are coordinating various actions to assist the thousands who have been devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

Many people think only of the short-term needs, food, water, medicine, clothing & shelter. In addition to those immediate needs, Catholic Charities will also assist people with re-building housing, finding employment and re-establishing their lives.

You can help with the effort in three ways:

  1. Most Catholic parishes will be having a special collection this Sunday — simply bring a check with you to Mass
  2. Donate directly to Catholic Charities USA online securely here
  3. Send a donation by snail-mail to:

Catholic Charities USA
2005 Hurricane Relief Fund
PO Box 25168
Alexandria, VA 22313-9788

Thank you for your generosity in helping those who have been hurt so deeply by this ravenous storm. It’s important to remember that Americans are by far the most generous people in the world — we give more to charity, both in terms of monies & volunteerism.

This is a moment for us to demonstrate our love for one another, even in the midst of so much devastation. God bless you all!

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"Directed" Contributions

It’s odd how a change in aspiration makes all the difference in the world.

Yesterday was a really long day for me. I arrived at work at 7:30am and decided not to return home at 4:00pm, when I usually leave.

You see, I had a meeting scheduled in my office for 7:00pm, and I thought I would just stay at work and clean up a number of items on my desk, etc.

So I happily chipped away at a number of things until 7, met with the Stewardship Committee until about 9:30pm, and then headed for home.

But this long day was a satisfying one. I’ve worked many long days, in fact when I worked at the phone company I worked a lot of days like this; but never with the sense of accomplishment that I have working for the Church.

I left a career in corporate America because I was sick of two things:

<!–[if !supportLists]–>· <!–[endif]–>The methods used to accomplish things were often Dilbert-like

<!–[if !supportLists]–>· <!–[endif]–>The foolishness of making a wasteful, greedy company richer, despite it’s incompetence is just crazy

It’s not that way working here at St. Gerald. We see the fruit of our labor – oftentimes right away. We have a much needed addition to our school being built right now. And as I visit the job site each day, I’m reminded of what a little change in perspective can do – it makes the long days enjoyable, and the end result is very rewarding.

God bless you all for bringing about the Kingdom – in whatever way you can!

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