332 S. Main Street, PO Box 663, Amherst, VA 24521
May 2009
To Be a Christian Steward; A Summary of the U.S. Bishops Pastoral Letter on Stewardship
As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace.
(1 Pt. 4:10)
What identifies a steward? Safeguarding material and human resources and using them responsibly are one answer; so is generous giving of time, talent, and treasure. But being a Christian steward means more. As Christian stewards, we receive God’s gifts gratefully, cultivate them responsibly, share them lovingly in justice with others, and return them with increase to the Lord.
The church holds the importance of the laity as “leaven in society.”
For reflection: In what particular ways has God gifted – me personally? – My family? – My community?
Where do I take credit, and where do I credit God, for all that I have and all that I have accomplished?
Many of our parishioners are already involved in our community. With our increasing growth as a church in size and talented gifts, we are all called to be a part of our Church community and our surrounding community in Amherst County.
The purpose of the Pastoral Council is: 1) to share with the Pastor and/or the Administrator the responsibilities which affect the direction, programs, issues and concerns that affect the life and ministry of the parish. 2) To encourage members of the parish to utilize their own gifts and talents for the service of the community. 3) To maintain parish property. 4) To help the Pastor and the Bishop fulfill the missions and goals of the diocese. 
The Council is composed of the Pastor, seven members elected by the parish at large and the chairs of each standing committee.
The term of membership for each elected member is for two years. The terms of membership for the elected members are staggered to maintain some continuity, with three members elected one year and four elected the next year. Elections are held on the last Saturday/Sunday of April.
Meetings are held in the evening on the second Wednesday of February, April, June, August, October and December.
Workshops are held the second Wednesday January, March, May, July, September and November.
Men and women who are knowledgeable regarding finances and financial matters advise the pastor and the parish about the annual budget and other decisions regarding the financial business of the parish. Members are appointed by the priest. 
This committee is particularly concerned about reaching out to new members and involving them in parish activities. The committee will establish a welcoming committee for new people coming into the community and maintain an accurate membership census. Members of this committee will also maintain the parish directory and phone tree.
In addition, this committee is responsible for development of plans for capital improvements to the church property which has been presented by the Executive Board. They will present such recommended plans to the Executive Board for approval. 
The mission of this ministry is to respond to the needs of the poor, deprived, neglected, oppressed, and sick and shut-ins of the parish and the community at large. This committee also helps parishioners become more aware of the social needs of the community.  
Jesse Tree: Christmas is a season of giving, and we strive to share our many blessings with residents of our county who are less fortunate. Each holiday season, we identify five families in need of assistance, and we provide Christmas gifts for their family. Outreach volunteers erect a Jesse tree in the church foyer and decorate it with gift tags. Our parish members are asked to take one or more of the gift tags, purchase and wrap the gift, and place it under the tree.  The gifts are then sorted and delivered by volunteers. 
Food Pantry: We have a Food Pantry Donation Box located on the table in our church foyer where you can make your donations. Non-perishable items are also accepted throughout the year, they can be placed in the small shopping cart in the foyer.  Please be as generous as possible in this effort.
In addition to our on-going Food Pantry donations, we provide holiday baskets at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Outreach volunteers purchase grocery store gift certificates to round out the baskets and then deliver the baskets to needy families.
Blood Drives: We sponsor two Red Cross Blood Drives each year (in May and October). Volunteers provide cookies and drinks for blood donors and assist as needed at the blood drive.   
Bereavement: When there is a death or illness in the family, we all want to help in some way. This committee organizes support from parish members to provide meals, personal visits and contacts, prayers, etc. for those families who have lost a loved one or have a family member who is very sick or in the hospital. Volunteers are always needed to help provide food and/or visitations. The amount of time involved will vary depending on the circumstances. 
Sweet Briar College Catholic Campus Ministry: The purpose of this ministry is to provide worship, counseling, religious formation, opportunities for outreach for the Catholic students at Sweet Briar College. Early in the school year, letters are sent to the students who helped the previous year, encouraging them to participate in the current school year as chairpersons for the various endeavors. In addition, letters are sent to the parents of all Catholic students introducing the Ministry with a separate letter to new Catholic students in which they received mass schedules for area churches, rosary, and other information about the Campus Ministry. Mass is held every Monday night on campus. Those with musical talents might want to participate on a one-time basis (more if you want). We hope that the alter servers, lecturers; etc will again be handled by the students. We are in the process of making alter cloths for the altar and could use some help in this area. On occasions, we would like to invite guest lecturers for the homily. The Catholic students at Sweet Briar support our parish in our many activities by providing students to help at activities, collecting items for the yard sales and making crafts for the bazaar. The students also are a source for babysitters for parishioners of St. Francis.
Amherst County Habitat for Humanity: Started in 1990 Amherst Habitat has to date built 27 homes with volunteer labor, thus helping 27 families in need to change their lives, starting with helping during construction. The St. Francis people have participated from the very beginning. A parishioner was the founder of Amherst Habitat and parishioners have been members of the Board of Directors and committees, and the St. Francis Deck Crew has built the decks of several houses. In addition, our parish has contributed funds. Volunteers are always needed for construction and non- construction work.
Prison Ministry: There are Catholic inmates at the Buckingham Correction Center that are in need of our prayers and support in their faith. This ministry includes such continuing prayers as well as controlled visits to the facility. In addition, parishioners are encouraged to provide faith based literature for the inmates. Parishioners who wish to help in this ministry should contact Fr. Lerma.  
Migrant Workers: There are several farms located in Amherst County and the surrounding counties where migrant workers are employed and live. Most of them are away from their homes and families for extended periods of time. There is always a need for our prayers and support in their Catholic faith. Parishioners are encouraged to visit the farms to share the rosary prayers and general fellowship. If you wish to help, contact Fr. Lerma who coordinates this ministry.
The Parish Community Life Committee is responsible for promoting Christian community in the parish and strengthening relationships of all individuals within the parish. The committee plans social gatherings and events and stirs community interest in such events.   Yearly, this typically means shopping for and organizing numerous potluck dinners, a parish picnic, monthly wine and cheese celebrations and several small receptions. We also hold receptions to welcome new members into our church and a reception for the children who received their First Communion. 
Working with the Parish Community Life Committee is a great way for people who are busy during the week to become volunteers for the parish and it requires only a minimum amount of time on the day of the activity which is usually held on Saturday after Mass. On the day of the event, committee members set up the social hall, put out the food and clean up.
Sunday Brunch Celebration: St. Francis parishioners have endorsed the idea of a Sunday meal with a religious component to celebrate the Lord’s Day and nurture fellowship. The celebration is held every second Sunday of the month at 11 AM, with a scripture reading before the meal, and an after meal discussion on a religious topic proposed by the participants. Three volunteers will be needed each time for set up and clean up.
This committee is responsible for the care of the parish facilities, including the care and upkeep of the parish buildings and grounds. 
Building: Maintaining the interior of the church is a big job, but with a little time from willing parishioners this can be done. We have the cleaning material. All we need are the laborers. 
Grounds: This group was responsible for the initial landscaping around our Church and creation of our lovely St. Francis garden. In addition, the group works during the winter months to clear underbrush from the back woods in anticipation of a future meditation area. 
The landscape group works hard to keep the scenic setting of our Church looking good. Their efforts not only include planting the trees and ornamentals but they also maintain the areas by weeding, mulching and watering throughout the year.
Another group keeps the lawn neat and trimmed.    Without fail, several volunteers are at the church with lawnmowers and weed whackers running every week during the season. Besides caring for the lawn, the group also handles odd jobs around the yard.
As the hot months of summer approach, both groups could use additional help and offer free aerobic exercise in a beautiful environment. Please volunteer and join us. 
The Christian Education Committee is responsible for planning and providing educational activities and events for the children and adults of our church family. 
Religious Education: St. Francis volunteers conduct the Parish Religious Education Program the first Saturday after Mass from October until May for children who are grade 4 through High School age and who do not attend Catholic school.   Loving their faith and enjoying children are two qualities for those who spend time handing our faith onto our children. Catechists are needed. You need not be a master educator as training and materials are provided. 
Sacramental Preparation: This committee also assists families with sacramental preparation and coordination of these special events with Fr. Lerma, the Liturgy Committee and our choirs.
Children’s Liturgy of the Word: A Children’s Liturgy Program “Little Sparrows” is offered during Mass so that children in ages 3 through 6 will have the opportunity to hear and learn about Scripture at their own level. Adult leaders are trained and are provided materials to conduct these sessions. All families with smaller children are encouraged to sign up for this special ministry. This is a wonderful way to see the interpretation of the Word through the eyes of a child.
Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RICA): Each Easter we welcome into our community people who have found a spiritual home in the Roman    Catholic Church. They come to this decision through prayer, study, and discussion with members of the parish. 
You are invited to walk with them on their journey of faith as a sponsor or a catechist. Sessions begin in late September and run through Easter. 
Youth Group: This ministry can be a great asset to our youth from participating in a diocese outing, church camp, to a skating party. All youth in grades 6 through 12 are invited to join and participate in activities to be of service to our parish, our communities, and to provide fun and entertainment for our group. 
This committee is responsible for planning, implementing and evaluating parish prayer and worship in accordance with diocesan policies and directions. The priest and the Music Minister must be members of this committee. The planning of the Liturgy for all seasons of the year and the planning of special liturgical events are the responsibilities of this committee. Good Liturgy takes prayer, thought and preparation. This committee gathers to plan and implement ideas to enhance our worship experiences. 
Music/Choir: Music is an important part of our liturgy and there is always a need for singers and instrumentalists. Through the efforts of all the parishioners we have been able to purchase a wonderful organ and sound system for our church. If you have a special interest in music, consider this group. 
Seamstress: There is always a need for someone to make new garments used in the worship services such as alter cover, towels, linens, baptismal garments, etc. 
Linen Caretaker: Ensures that the church liturgy linens are maintained.
Eucharistic Ministers: Members of this ministry assist the Pastor in administering the Eucharist to parishioners during parish liturgies. Eucharistic ministers also distribute the Eucharist to the hospitalized, homebound and those residing in our local nursing homes. Training is provided. 
Lectors:  Ministers of the Word, commonly known as Lectors, proclaim the Word of God to those coming to worship at Sunday or Daily Mass. Those accepting the call to serve as a Lector must recognize that service in this Ministry is for the purpose of meeting the needs of the parish community and is a commitment to prepare properly to proclaim the Word of God. Training is provided.
Ushers: Ushers ensure a welcoming presence and orderly seating to all those coming to worship. Ushers also take up the weekly collection, and arrange for worshipers to participate in the offertory procession. Ushers also ensure a smooth procession of parishioners to receive the Holy Eucharist. Training is provided.
Set Up: These individuals are responsible for arranging the necessary items for the conduct of the Mass including the wine and hosts, lighting the candles, turning on the overhead lights. Training is provided.
Greeters: St Francis of Assisi strives to be a welcoming parish. While we do not have designated greeters and a schedule of assignments, volunteers are encouraged to arrive about 30 minutes before Mass, stand at the door and welcome everyone into worship, making a special effort to meet and recognize new members and visitors.
Alter Servers: The alter servers are typically from the youth of our parish. Training is provided. Alter Servers not only provide assistance at regular Mass services but also are called upon to provide similar assistance during special Masses such as funerals, etc. 
Flowers: Decorative floral arrangements for the church are always appreciated. Sign up sheet is in the hall to sponsor a mass. 
Knights of Columbus: An action oriented fraternal organization that strives for a better and stronger church, community and world. 
Weekly Bulletin: The bulletin is issued on a weekly basis in order to keep all of the parishioners up to date on the events surrounding the parish. For a minimum fee, a monthly sponsorship will allow for highlighting a birthday, anniversary, death or other memorable event. 
Fund RaisingThere will always be a need for fund raisers in any parish.  Fundraisers typically supplement the church income for capital improvements and expansion of current ministries and special purchases/contributions i.e. Hymn Books, St. Francis grants for the Holy Cross School.   In the past, we have had yard sales, bazaars and spaghetti dinners.  All of these were not only profitable but also provided an opportunity for the Amherst community to become better acquainted with our parish and for us to become more aware of the community in which we live. In addition, these events have been most entertaining for our church family.  
St. Francis LibraryWe certainly agree with Augustine Birrell’s (1850-1938) profound statement that “libraries are not made; they grow.” Look back to 12 months ago and compare to where we are today. We have a room, dedicated to our own, unique library purposes; we have 2 1/2 walls of handsome shelving in place; we have inventoried over 1,100 volumes appropriate to our needs and aims; and have been catalogued and processed with checkout pockets and book cards—with more waiting to be processed. 
All in all, we are pleased and proud to be in this formation stage of a resource that will offer material not only for religious education, but also enriching material of spiritual guidance and knowledge for all classifications of church membership.