By Helen Ballerano, Boca Raton, Florida
Happy New Year! September 1st begins a new ecclesiastical year and affords us the perfect opportunity to begin anew in our commitment of stewardship to our faith and our church.
As the philanthropic arm of the church, Philoptochos is the true embodiment of Christian stewardship and an ideal way for us, as Orthodox women, to contribute our time and talent. All Orthodox women are invited and welcomed to participate in the Philoptochos mission, to offer compassionate charity and benevolence, to preserve and perpetuate our Orthodox Christian values and family, and to promote our Greek Orthodox faith and traditions.
Philoptochos has a huge charge and with it the tremendous responsibility of fulfilling its mission, from the smallest parish chapter, up through Metropolis and National levels. With thousands of members, Philoptochos has the distinction of being one of the largest Christian women's faith based philanthropic organizations in the country. That's an accomplishment we should all be proud of! And yet, in many ways, Philoptochos struggles with being recognized, or even known, sometimes even within the walls of our churches. And many women, especially young women, are reluctant to join. But why?
It is probably fair to say that most women with school age children do not hesitate to join their child’s school PTA. As parents, we never question supporting our child's education or their school. Joining the PTA is a given. It certainly was for me, as I'm confident it was for you. However, do we as Orthodox women have that same attitude and spirit about joining our parish Philoptochos? How awesome would it be, if 80 or 90, or even 100% of the women of our parishes joined Philoptochos? Our strength, reach and potential would be extraordinary!
My own personal sense is that when we truly understand and embrace the meaning of Christian stewardship in our life, then our commitment and support of our church and its ministries naturally grows. Welcoming each day with a Christ-focused and church-centered life, is the embodiment and true essence of stewardship.
Every day, Philoptochos women offer their time, talent and treasure to meeting the needs of our church and local parish families and by serving the greater community. There are teams of women who visit the sick and the elderly, who serve at soup kitchens, who organize events and fundraisers, and who volunteer in so many ways throughout their communities. The Sunday coffee hours and numerous fundraisers benefit local and national causes that are worthy of our support. Philoptochos responds in times of crisis, as with the financial struggles in Greece, or when a natural disaster occurs in all parts of the world.
Embarking on this new ecclesiastical year, we should prayerfully reflect on the role of our faith and church in our own life. Let’s embrace this year by honoring our blessings through personal stewardship to Philoptochos and by inviting women of all ages to join us in this call to faithful service.