Stewardship Witness Talk

On May 16th and May 17th I gave a stewardship witness talk at my Parish, St. Francis de Sales of Vernon NJ. Below is the text of the talk I gave:

Hi, my name is Rich Franco.
I am 48 years old.
I am a husband.
I am a father of two teenaged daughters and I am a cancer survivor.

Cancer survivor… I never thought those words would ever come out of my mouth.

Something else I didn’t expect was that in dealing with my illness, I would be touched by Stewardship in such a way that I would be willing to get up here and tell you about it.

In my 17 years as a parishioner I have always been a big fan of Stewardship.

After all it’s hard to find fault with putting to work the gifts that God has given us to help others.

Hey, I have been blessed with a great life…
· with my wife Sue.
o This year we will be celebrating our 25th Wedding Anniversary.
· I have two wonderful daughters, Jill and Alli.
· I have a very supportive family.
· And I have great friends… friends who would be here to help me with a second’s notice.

Life has always been good for me… so why wouldn’t I be willing to cheerfully share my Time, Talent and Treasure?

And this is not just talk on my part. A year ago my Stewardship included:
· Teaching Religious Education to 1st and 9th graders
· Helping with the development of a new Confirmation program
· Assisting with our Parish Website
· Filling in as usher from time to time
· I even found time to help a friend with Youth Music Ministry at another parish
· And yes, we always use our envelope to make our weekly contribution.

I would have gladly repeated my efforts for this year … but it wasn’t meant to be.

On July 17th I was given news that shook my world.

I was diagnosed with Mantle Cell Lymphoma, a cancer that is known to be very aggressive and very resilient to treatment.
It was suggested that I get a second opinion from Dr. Andre Goy of Hackensack University Medical Center. He is one of the top Mantle Cell Lymphoma experts in the world.

Dr. Goy was in the process of working on a clinical trial for Mantle Cell in which he needed 18 study patients. He had 17 of the slots filled. After meeting with him he offered me the last slot in the study.
I truly felt God with me on that day.

Over the next 7 months I received chemo therapy treatments and struggled through a number of serious infections.

I could have never gotten through this without my wife Sue, who was by my side 24/7. My daughters and the rest of my family and friends were all just so supportive.

Even though I have cancer, I can not help but to think just how lucky I am.

Keeping a positive attitude, praying often and being strong for my loved ones was my main focus.

Me getting well… that was in the hands of my doctors and yes, God.

As my family and I dealt with the challenges of my disease, many of our friends here at St. Francis were there for us.

· People showed up at my house to mow my lawn, plow my drive way. I even had a group of teens and parents perform a fall clean up on my property.
· I received numerous phone calls, greeting cards and emails of encouragement and support.
· My family and I received countless offers to help us with whatever we needed.
· And the many prayers said on my behalf were simply amazing

I can’t even start to name all of the people who have reached out to me and my family.
But I must mention that Father Boland has been extremely supportive.

I would like to thank everyone here at St. Francis de Sales for all that you have done for me and my family during a very difficult time.

Now let me ask you a question.
Is what everyone did for me an example of Stewardship? Sure it is!
But this was a completely different view of it for me.
This time… I’m the one on the receiving end of it.
This made me begin to see Stewardship in a whole new light.

Stewardship is not just about us “cheerfully sharing our time, talent and treasure.
It’s so much more.

It’s about:
· Love
· Compassion
· Kindness
· Caring
· Encouragement
· Support
· Friendship
· Generosity
· And it’s about Prayer

Most of all Stewardship is about community.

It’s about being there for each other.
It’s about me needing you …
and you needing me.

And Yes, YOU truly are needed…

· YOU are needed to help the families struggling to make ends meet by supporting the food pantry and our Parish’s Emergency Reserve Fund.
· YOU are needed to help the person who just lost a loved one and needs help dealing with their grief.
· YOU are needed by the youth who needs help learning about our religion?
· YOU are needed as a Eucharistic Minister, a Lector, or a Music Minister to support our Liturgy.
· YOU are needed as an Usher or Minister of Hospitality to make everyone feel welcome.
· YOU are needed to help those struggling with illness by giving them your support, your encouragement, and your prayers…

And YES, the St. Francis community can help YOU

By helping you strengthening your faith through retreats, bible studies and other faith formation activities

There are just so many opportunities for you to help others and for others to help you here at St. Francis de Sales.
At some point you should check out our new and improved web site and see what Stewardship has to offer you and your family.

I guess I should finish telling you about how I’m doing…

Did I mention my strong belief in the power of prayer?
Well our prayers are heard …
And our prayers are answered.

On March 2nd I was told that I was in full remission.

I can’t thank God enough for his great healing power.

I guess I have a life time to show my thanks.

True, I will never know how long my cancer will be in remission. With my first follow up scans just a couple of weeks away, I know God will be there to carry me through them.
But as of right now I can honestly say that I’m back… and I’m ready to help in anyway that I can.

Please know that I am here for you if you need me.
I can also say, without any hesitation, that I know that you’re here for me and my family.

Let’s take a moment… to look at all the people sitting around us.

I ask you, are we all here for each other?

If the answer is “Yes”, then that’s truly what Stewardship is all about.

Thank You

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