Editor’s note: The passing of our friend and longtime advisor Msgr. Thomas McGread in April was a tremendous loss to all who came to know him and work with him in developing stewardship as a way of life. But Msgr. McGread’s legacy will continue to live on through our work and through this blog, as we are fortunate to have in our archives many of his writings and teachings. The Catholic Steward will continue to share these with our followers as we continue to live Msgr. McGread’s vision for stewardship and evangelization in the Church.
When I was a younger priest in my early days at St. Francis of Assisi in Wichita, once we began to appeal to the parishioners with regard to their time and how they used it, we noticed a few important changes.
First, we saw they got a renewed sense of belonging to the parish, and with that came a deeper sense of ownership to the parish, as well. With that new sense of belonging and ownership came the most significant change. The parishioners got a sense of responsibility for the parish, which is vitally important in regards to the donations they make to the parish.
And, after we started on the Stewardship way of life – maybe five years into it – our collections were noticeably larger. This is what appealed to a lot of people throughout the whole country. But whenever I spoke to various dioceses about this, I told them that these higher collections were not the true success story at St. Francis.
The success story of St. Francis was the involvement of the people. One of the things we started from the beginning was the importance of prayer – bringing prayer into everything. We had an Adoration Chapel at St. Francis open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This Diocese now has 18 of those chapels and even more that are open partially, but they’re all very successful.
This should show you what your own parishioners really want. The people want to get closer to God, because in getting closer to God, they get closer to one another. And, when they get closer to one another, they’ll work with one another because they’re working for something they claim to be their own! This is their parish and they’re determined to make it successful. That’s really why finances really improved because, through prayer, people really learned about what God wants them to do with their possessions.