My name is Mary Jo Schwartz and I was one of six children raised in a loving Catholic family. My father was deeply spiritual and I think way ahead of his time. My husband, Jeff, and I have been married 42 years; we have three children; we were foster parents and we have 7 grandchildren. Our two youngest grandchildren are three-year-old twins and live with us. Until a few months ago – for more than 31 years – I worked in child care; I considered this work a sacred stewardship because I knew I touched the tiny souls of the hundreds of children I cared for over the years.
As I started thinking about my talk on stewardship I realized that I’ve been a member of St. Malachi’s for at least 20 years. I re-entered the Church here. The first few years I sat in the back terribly sad, broken and feeling rejected. The parish of my grandparents and my parents, and most of my aunts and uncles and my young family hurt me terribly. Going to Mass there was negative and drained me of energy. I’ll give you just a few examples.
My son had special needs; the PSR teacher wouldn’t work with me; but did send a note suggesting that I take my son to the church down the street – they didn’t want him – he was too difficult.
When my beloved Aunt Marie died – who had been baptized and raised in this parish and then raised her eight children in this parish and buried her husband from this parish – her adult children were told that the church was dusty because of some work that had been done and perhaps they could move her Funeral Mass somewhere else.
My last example is when my mother died. I called the priest house to arrange her funeral and was told that the priest was too busy to speak with me. He gathered us together at the funeral home right before the end of calling hours. During our very brief talk, I told him that I had heard a beautiful reading at a funeral at St. Malachi’s. He closed his eyes – raised his hand in almost a Hitler-like fashion and said “Don’t get me started about Malachi’s”. We’d agreed that all of Mom’s grandchilden would have a part in her Funeral Mass; and as my sister was took notes so the grandkids could prepare, she asked the priest how to spell Thessalonians. We were all exhausted and mourning and the priest looked directly at her and said “You’re Catholic; you should know how to spell that”.
After that, I stopped going to Mass. I was broken and had a hole in my soul. After ahile and only because my husband encouraged me I decided to try St. Malachi’s – this place had a reputation for being different and had a commitment to the poor. The 12:30 Mass became my haven and I started to heal.
After a few years, a very kind woman the regularly attended the 12:30 Mass, Invited me to become a Eucharistic Minister and it is an amazing experience. I must tell you that each and every time I hold and offer you the body and blood of Christ it touches my very soul.
After a while, Fr. Tony needed a Lector and asked if I’d do that Sunday’s readings. Now I’m a Lector; I still get nervous, but as I prepare the readings I know that sharing these holy words is a great honor.
I was asked to serve on the Board of St. Malachi Center and to participate in the Vibrant Parish Life Committee.
I was then Invited to serve on the Merger Team and the Interim Council. At first I was very quiet – I was actually intimidated. I wasn’t experienced at this; I knew I was far from being an expert at the workings of a parish; and I certainly wasn’t a theology major. After lots of prayers and some encouragement, God let me know that he wanted my there – again I had been invited and I was needed because most of you are just like me. I represented all of US. I needed to ask my questions, support the Council, and do what ever I could to represent all of US.
I have grown and continue to grow spiritually. This past week God gave me the most amazing spiritual opportunity. I have met wonderful, caring people. I have made dear friends that are loving and accepting. I appreciate the man, who shall remain nameless, Patrick Cleary-Burns, calling us the ’12:30 Church Ladies’. I can give what I can – when I can. There are opportunities for all of us to serve and I promise you joy and peace.
So today – I am personally Inviting you to share your time and talents. What you will do here at St. Malachi’s will really
count – you are needed – you can make a difference.
I want to thank Jeannie for doing the readings at today’s Mass. There are only three regularly scheduled Eucharistic Ministers and Lectors for the 12:30 Mass. I’m inviting you to join us. If you’d like, I’ll help you and I can promise you that this service will touch your soul.
You can take an interest in the Council and share your thoughts and ideas. Today after Mass in the church hall you will have an informal opportunity to talk to people from our amazing ministries. The Hospitality Committee always needs help – you could bake for the Mass of Remembrance next week. The Back Door Ministry is amazing – seven days a week – and it’s getting cold they’re going to need coffee and winter items. The Center needs readers to meet with the kids after school. There are so many things to do here.
What every you can do – DO IT!. If you can only do a little – DO IT! Make a start – share your time and talents. Be it ever so humble – – – St. Malachi’s is our spiritual home.
I’m personally Inviting you to reach out. You are needed here. You will be blessed. Like me, the little things you do at St. Malachi’s will make a difference. I can promise you it will. I know because stewardship has helped me heal and has filled the hole in my soul.