Bishop Edward C. Malesic, JCL
As I reflect on my first year as Bishop of the Diocese of Cleveland, I recognize that I am truly blessed to have been asked to come among you and be your shepherd. I am grateful for the deep generosity that so many of you show to support our work of proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We could not carry out the mission of the Church without your interest, concern, and stewardship. This diocese has a national reputation for being tremendously generous, and I have come to know firsthand the truth of this local characteristic.
In the Church, a steward is “One who receives God’s gifts gratefully, cherishes them in a responsible and accountable manner, shares them in justice and love with all and returns them with increase to the Lord” (USCCB, Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response). Each and every one of you are, by definition, a good Christian steward. Thank you from the depths of my heart for all you do for the Church.
My dear friends, I believe that what we have been given as a gift from God, we are also called by God to share. That directive comes straight from scripture, from the First Letter of St. Peter, “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). How do we do that in a planned, responsible, and deeply meaningful way?
If we think about it, the idea of legacy planning is about planting seeds, seeds that will
grow and bear great fruit with the grace of God. I know a little something about seeds and growing things. Before I was a priest and a bishop, I was a biology major. I know how when we plant a seed in fertile ground, give it the warmth of the sun and water it, then it grows. Similarly, when we plant the seed of stewardship, we build up not only our world but the Kingdom of God, already present among us.
This work is a partnership with God—our share in a divine/human collaboration in creation. It occupies a central place in our lives as Christian stewards.
My dear 103-year old dad loved to grow things. For years he lovingly tilled a huge garden in our back yard in our home back in Harrisburg. He taught me so much about planting and growing, tilling the soil, and taking great care of God’s creation. My father took what God gave him, the seeds, planted them, and then allowed God to do the heavy lifting that produced an abundance of produce for our family and even our neighbors.
Today we are called to bear fruit on a very different level: the fruit of hope, the fruit of love, and the fruit of Gospel values. This is what we are called to do: to take the gifts that God gives to us and then plant something from it out of love, allowing God to water it with his Holy Spirit and bring about fruit that we cannot fully imagine. By making your legacy gift, you plant seeds that will grow in ways that only God can know. When you join our Heritage Society, we can acknowledge your gift, and you can inspire others to help build up God’s kingdom here on earth.
Thank you for your generosity, and may God bless you and those you love.