The Fall season is a time when many stewardship parishes conduct their Annual Stewardship Renewals. That is indeed the case here at my parish, Immaculate Conception in Willoughby, Ohio, as October is our Stewardship Renewal month.
We mailed out our Stewardship packets to all parishioners asking them to make their commitments of Time, Talent and Treasure. Being good Americans, we tend to look at things from a “success” perspective. So, how do we look upon our Stewardship Renewal as to whether or not it is successful?
One way we could do so is to measure the number of parishioners who return a Commitment Card as a result of our Annual Renewal. We could look at the number of commitments everyone makes to Time, Talent and Treasure, and then make a judgment as to whether or not the Renewal was successful. We could look to the number of people who come to Mass on the weekend and judge whether or not our Renewal was a success. Or, we could use the standard barometer that everyone likes to use: the collection. We could see how much Treasure we are all willing to commit, and then make a judgment as to the success of our Renewal.
But what exactly are we renewing? What we are renewing is our commitment to follow Christ. Following Christ is not the same kind of enterprise as selling Hondas, or making salads at Wendy’s, or working in a hospital. Following Christ is, first and foremost, an enterprise of faith. And, in this regard, the words of Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta ring true: God calls us not to be successful, but to be faithful.
So to answer the question — “Is our Renewal a success?” — I have to ask another question of each of you. That question is: “Are you living Stewardship as a way of life?” Or: “Are you changing ways about your life so that you are a more generous and loving person?”
The answer to those questions is really the only way to truly gauge whether or not a parish Stewardship Renewal is indeed a success.