Stewardship as a ministry of presence and prayer

Father Chris Mann, pastor of Christ the Redeemer Parish, Atco, stands with the Krisak family, Vince and Angela and their daughters Cheyenne and Sierra. —– Photo by Alan M. Dumoff     

What if being truly present at Mass each Sunday was the most important priority of the week? What if being a prayerful example to others was the highest purpose for each new day?

The response to the call to stewardship might be as simple as asking, What would you have me do, Lord?

When asked what the call to stewardship means, Father Chris Mann says, “The primary thing we’re called to do is pray.” That’s the message he offers as the pastor of Christ the Redeemer Parish in Atco.

Christ the Redeemer includes the Sacred Heart Church in Cedar Brook, Saint Anthony in Waterford Works, and Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Atco.

The Krisak family of Atco stands out for Father Mann as a family that exemplifies the answer to the call of stewardship. For everyone, says Father Mann, “the primary ministry we’re called to is to be present.” Week after week, he sees that Vince and Angela Krisak, along with daughters Cheyenne and Sierra, exemplify this twin vocation to presence and prayer.

Vince works as an operations manager for an environmental consulting firm and Angela is an office supervisor for an alarm company, although she emphasizes, “I’m a mom first.” For both parents, the girls and their formation in the faith comes before all else.

Both Cheyenne, who is in fourth grade, and Sierra, in third, are involved in sports and school. In this school year, Cheyenne was asked to help represent her school in a STEM program at Villanova University. Sierra was thrilled when she got to go to the Adventure Aquarium with her class, where her favorite part of the day was “touching the stingray!”

Most importantly, every Sunday, says Father Mann, the Krisaks are in church, visibly glad to be present and to participate in the liturgy. Cheyenne, age 10, has been an altar server since shortly after her first holy Communion, and now she is training sister Sierra, age 8, to serve along with her. The girls are always available and happy to serve whenever called, even for the 8 a.m. Mass at one of the smaller churches in the parish.

Angela and Vince feel a strong commitment to bringing the girls up in the faith. A convert to Catholicism, Angela says, “I was married in the church without Mass, and I joined RCIA (the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) that fall. I knew that I wanted to bring up kids in the church.” Her formation class was small and the participants remain close today, still making a point to stay in touch.

For the Krisaks, being present at the parish events feels like being home. “We’re always there to help serve,” says Angela, “because our parish tries to do a lot for families.

For Vince, who grew up Catholic, being part of parish life is the only life he knows. “It’s how I was brought up,” he says. He sees stewardship as a priority, as well. “It’s about the time you spend and where you spend it.”

Father Mann believes that other families see the Krisaks as role models. “Families like them are important because they are an example. When other parents come in [to church], it’s a witness. “When they’re present, they’re really present.”

“They obviously like being together,” he says. “The love in the family is very evident.”

Father Mann notes that today, “the culture is contrary to what parents want to inculcate into children. Parents have to be a source of strength for their kids by showing them that it’s OK to be different. … It’s OK to be “chaste, modest, upstanding, and honest.”

Because contemporary culture does not always encourage Christian values, Father Mann said, the role of parents today is more important than ever.

Above all, as Father Mann points out, holiness is about the everyday, even the ordinary. In families like the Krisaks, he says, we all see that “Ordinary time can become holy with a purpose. Families like theirs are important, because they are an example for others.”

The mission of the Office of Stewardship is to help the disciples of Christ who live in the Diocese of Camden to live out Christian charity in a sacrificial way that “we might understand the grace that comes from giving back from our blessings so that in all things God may be glorified.” For more information, contact Deacon Russell Davis at 856-583-6102.