Todd and Judy Hough, members of St. Mary Parish, Derby-Rose Hill, come from disparate backgrounds. Today, though, they are one body in marriage, and they are one in stewardship.
Judy was born into a small farming community in northern Kansas where she grew in her Catholic faith by going to Mass every Sunday with her family, by attending PSR, and by watching the example of stewardship set by her parents.
Todd, on the other hand, never sat in a church pew after he was baptized.
“I didn’t even know if I believed in God until about eight years ago and didn’t become Catholic until a little over a year and a half ago despite attending Masses for over 12 years,” he says in a 2016 stewardship talk the Houghs shared with the Catholic Advance.
He said his understanding of stewardship has matured since his acceptance of the Catholic faith.
Initially, Todd said, he defined stewardship as his contribution of time and talent. “My motivation at that time was simply to set a good example for my kids.”
The more his faith grew, he said, and the more he did what God desired of him – “even if they weren’t always with a happy heart – I found my relationship with God to be growing.”
A turning point came in his understanding of stewardship when he began to understand that one definition of love is “to will the good of another.” He then began to understand that stewardship is about a lot more than contributing his time, talent and treasure.
“I finally began to recognize how stewardship is not only a way to grow our relationship with God, but it is also the way that we make a window for God’s light to shine into this world.”
Judy said her response to God providing her opportunities is her understanding of stewardship.
The unexpected death of a neighbor who left a wife and four children was one opportunity God set before Judy.
“We had children about the same age and I offered to watch their six-month-old son so that the mom could continue to run in the mornings. About a year later, she in turn, offered to watch my son so that I could start to volunteer at St. Mary’s School.”
After volunteering for 12 years at the school – on the school council, coaching, as a teacher’s aide, and as a math tutor, Judy said she got to know a lot of people.
“So stewardship began for me by finding ways that I could contribute that were comfortable to me,” she said. “I still tend to go that route, but over time, I have grown when I’ve allowed God to use me in ways that are little out of my comfort zone.”
Judy said she saw God’s hand in a stressful time of their lives.
When Todd was participating in the RCIA to be welcomed into the church, he was laid off from his job.
“At the same time, Sr. Marie (Zoglman, now retired) was needing help with the liturgical ministry schedule,” Judy said.
“Todd was able to say yes because he was laid off. If he had still been working, he wouldn’t have had time to help with the scheduling. God turned a situation that we really didn’t want to be in, into an opportunity for Todd to be of service to others.”
Judy suggests to others who are growing in their understanding of stewardship to simply begin – in their comfort zone, or out of it.