Diocesan News

Brainard's Holy Trinity Parish tops $100,000 in charitable giving

(BRAINARD) - Thanks to a parish-wide focus on stewardship, Holy Trinity Parish in Brainard has been able to donate more than $100,000 to various charities in the last 10 years, including a recent $5,000 contribution to the St. Gregory the Great Seminary burse.

With a mere 175 households, this is arguably an impressive dollar figure.

"I attribute the successful things we’ve been able to do financially and otherwise to the fact that we have been tithing 10% of our adult income to charity," said Father Matthew Eickhoff.

He’s been teaching stewardship ever since he became pastor of the parish 13 years ago. In 2004, he approached the parish council with a list of about 30 charities from both inside and outside the diocese, and an idea to model tithing by having the parish itself give a percentage of its income to charity right off the top.

"The idea is that we begin by appreciating what God has given us, and we respond by giving a proportion back to God," Father Eickhoff explained.

The council readily agreed and started with 5% donations the first two years. In 2006, they decided it was time to move that up to 10%, the Biblical and traditional definition of tithing. That means the parish council has $15,000 to donate to charity annually before tending to parish needs.

The seminary has regularly been one of the recipients, but Holy Trinity Parish has also contributed to Catholic Social Services, Matt Talbott Kitchen, the televised Mass for the homebound, both local and national pro-life causes, and local efforts in Brainard, including the fire department and the Blue Valley Community Action Center.

Giving 10% of any income right off the top – whether parish or personal – can seem daunting, but Father Eickhoff said this demonstration of faith is always rewarded.

"Even in a tight economy, all the other bills seem to be easier to pay," he said. "We always receive more than what we give away…We have received major gifts from parishioners that have been unlike any other we’ve received in 50 years of history."

This reality has been a great inspiration to individual parishioners as well.

"I’ve seen several families who were giving little or nothing who are giving more generously now than they were before," Father Eickhoff said.

For those who don’t feel able to give a full 10% of their income to their parishes, Father Eickhoff encourages them to make an effort to raise their level of giving over time.

"Everybody I know who tithes has always had an abundance for their needs and have found themselves to be more able to give," he said.

He also encourages parish councils to model tithing.

"It’s a group act of faith," he said. "It’s very gratifying, and very tangible rewards come to those who give."

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