Generosity begets generosity

By Bishop W. Shawn McKnight

This year, we have seen some wonderful news for our diocese.

In late January, we were able to announce that generous, anonymous donors have given $1 million to the diocese to use for tuition assistance of students at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Sedalia.

Then, two more gifts, each worth $1 million, were received, to assist Fr. Tolton Regional Catholic High School in Columbia.

That high school will also have a $1 million tuition-assistance fund established, and the other $1 million will be used to pay down the school’s bond.

Now, another anonymous donation is adding $3 million to our Diocesan Excellence in Education Fund (DEEF).

The DEEF was established in the late 1980s by private donors for our Catholic school teachers. Interest from the fund is used to ensure that Catholic school teachers’ salaries are at least at 85 percent of the public school salary scale.

In 2006, the “Grateful Memories … Faithful Future” diocesan capital campaign added money to the corpus of the fund. With this wonderful gift of $3 million, the DEEF fund is now at $14.4 million.

This will allow the diocese to continue to draw money earned from the investment of the principal (corpus) of the fund to support our teachers, who dedicate their own talent and expertise to our children, often at a financial sacrifice.

Six million dollars dedicated to Catholic education is significant.

The donors of these four gifts are hoping the rest of us are also willing to reflect on how much we value Catholic education for our children, and consider what we might be able to contribute to this effort.

They have laid a foundation upon which we can build a solid future for our children.

They believe, as I do, that we are better together. We all have a part in building this future.

For some, such as our Catholic school faculty and administrators, their contribution is their professional expertise, their passion for teaching and their sacrificial love for our children.

They know they could make more money working some place else, including in a public school. Yet they have embraced a stewardship way of life and answered their baptismal call by working in a Catholic school.

Of course, our parents have a core role. Our Church teaches that the parents are the primary educators of their children. The home is where one is taught — and where we “caught” — the faith.

Our mother’s and father’s witness of how they lived their faith are the reason why so many of us love God and embrace our Catholic faith.

Yes, words matter, but even more important are the examples we witnessed.

In the same way, each one of us has an important role in helping our children grow in their relationship with God and in their communion with the Church.

Our personal witness is also important.

St. Augustine wrote, “Find out how much God has given you and from it take what you need; the remainder is needed by others.”

Stewardship calls us out of our self-centeredness into a realization that our only means of salvation is by being in communion with others.

That means giving not from our abundance but from everything God has given us.

We are blessed beyond measure that these benefactors have given $6 million to help us in forming our children to be strong in mind, body and spirit.

We are also blessed by a God Who gives abundantly.

I prayerfully ask each of you to reflect on how God has been generous with you — and how you can return that generosity to others.