“There’s no vacation from vocation.” That was the pithy saying, uttered by the spiritual director, that we took home with us for summer vacation from the high school seminary. Our diocese closed the high school seminary in the early 1970s as times changed and the numbers of high school seminarians decreased. The thought remains the same. There is no vacation from our vocation to follow Christ in a life committed to stewardship of God’s abundant gifts to us.
June 27, 2010 – Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jesus’ preaching kindled a reaction from those who heard him. He summoned his hearers to follow him into the kingdom of God, and his call demanded an immediate and total response. Jesus’ strong and attractive personality caused many to have an immediate rush of enthusiasm and make rash statements without thinking things through.
When your parish conducts your annual stewardship renewal, it is important to do so in a proper manner. The renewal is a big part of your year, as it offers your entire parish a great opportunity to re-evaluate our lives and re-commit yourselves as Christ’s disciples. However, it is important to carefully conduct the renewal so as to truly encourage your fellow parishioners to make a commitment to Christ. Therefore, you need to be cautious of some common mistakes that will, inevitably, hinder the success of your renewal.
Editor’s Note: This is the second in a five-part series by Msgr. Jim Costigan on The Pillars of Parish Stewardship.
From the standpoint of a Christian worldview, hospitality can be referred to as Christian kindness.
In terms of stewardship, hospitality is an immensely important concept. Remember the “three Ts” of stewardship: time, talent and treasure? Well, there are also “four Ps,” the four pillars of stewardship – hospitality, prayer, formation and service. Interestingly enough, hospitality is mentioned first. Why? Because without hospitality, none of the other pillars will ever take hold.
Hospitality is the cornerstone of stewardship, because it opens the door to a person’s heart and allows them to receive joy, grace and love.
Catholics are noted for their good sense of humor as it concerns some of the cultural experiences we have in the Church, especially in our Catholic schools and elsewhere. A sense of humor will go a long way in helping us to live ulcer-free lives.
However, sometimes, when fun is poked at our most sacred symbols, we should take pause before we smile or laugh. Several years ago, a so-called artist placed a crucifix in a jar of urine and did so in an artsy way. Many said this was art and above reproach and that Catholics and other Christians who were offended should get a life.
One of the hallmarks of a Stewardship Parish is having the parishioners take ownership of the parish and feel a sense of responsibility for all its activities, including its finances. In this regard it is important to promote openness in all financial dealings so that parishioners have a real sense of what is going on in the parish, what its financial needs and responsibilities are.
Based on the parish surveys we at Catholic Stewardship Consultants, Inc. (CSC) have conducted in Catholic parishes over the past 12-plus years, most parishioners do not have a good understanding of where their parish is financially. Quite often parishioners think their parish is far better off financially than it actually is. In fact, in many cases we have seen situations where a particular parish is in deep financial trouble, and most parishioners’ responses indicate that they think their parish is doing just fine financially or even generating a surplus. On the other hand, we’ve found cases when a parish has an adequate income, but many parishioners think the doors are about to be closed.
How does this disconnect happen so that parishioners think the parish is well off financially when in fact the opposite is true? Or that they think the parish is worse off than it actually is? Well, oftentimes, they have not been given enough accurate information in an understandable format by the parish leadership to know the parish’s financial situation. Granted, in other cases, the parishioners are at fault – they have been given enough information, but they have not taken the time to understand what is going on. [Read more…]
St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Church in Fredericksburg, Va., was the destination of a retreat I facilitated in January 2010. The parish has 4,100 families and is located in one of the most historical areas of our country. The local residents take great delight in naming those who once lived there, and talking about what events happened that played a pivotal role in shaping much of our nation. As I listened, I couldn’t help but think about my home state of North Dakota and its beginnings as a “territory,” then as “state,” and the humble beginnings of our “Catholic heritage.”
The thoughts are appropriate, since here in the Diocese of Bismarck, we are about to kick off the celebration of our centennial as a diocese and recalling and appreciating the “characters” who shaped us, planting the “seeds” of citizenship” and, more importantly, our faith. The event will take place in Bismarck on June 11, 12, and 13. It offers us here in North Dakota, including here at my parish, St. John the Apostle in Minot, the opportunity to celebrate our history, while “beginning a new chapter” for ourselves and those that follow us.
A few years ago, the Pew Forum on Religious and Public Life conducted its U.S. Religious Landscape Survey based on interviews with 35,000 Americans age 18 and older. The survey was designed to detail the religious affiliation of the American public.
For Catholics, the Pew Forum survey findings are cause for concern.
The results reveal that one-third of Americans who were raised in the Church no longer identify themselves as Catholic, which means that 10 percent of all Americans are former Catholics.
The overall percentage of Catholic Americans has dropped from 31 percent to 24 percent. According to the Pew Forum, this decline would be greater if Catholic immigrants were excluded from the findings.
Even more alarming is that more than one-quarter of American adults (28 percent) have left the faith in which they were raised in favor of another religion — or no religion at all.
The Catholic Steward finds the survey results to be of great concern.
As parish leaders, how can we address this apparent loss of faith sweeping our nation?
You’ve heard about the three Ts of stewardship – Time, Talent and Treasure. But what about the four Ps?
The three Ts describe the personal gifts we offer to the Church. The four Ps are the “four pillars” of parish stewardship described by the man often referred to as the Father of Catholic Stewardship, Msgr. Thomas McGread. Msgr. McGread is the stewardship director emeritus for the Diocese of Wichita. In 2004, the diocesan stewardship office published an important document called, The Pillars of Parish Stewardship. These pillars are the hallmark of a stewardship parish: hospitality, prayer, formation, and service. This is something that is near and dear to my own heart and is the theme for this year at my parish, St. Peter the Apostle in Savannah, Ga. [Read more…]
One movement appears to remain with us. It is what I would call the “stewardship movement.” I have seen firsthand how this movement brings new vitality to parishes and strengthens the Catholic faith of so many individuals; something as simple as focusing on “time, talent and treasure” has touched our Catholic people in very basic but profound ways. [Read more…]
Parishes with good communications find that parishioners tend to be eager to participate and glad to contribute their time, talent, and treasure because they feel like they’re “in the loop.” But parishes that don’t effectively share the news — either deliberately or accidentally — find that the people can feel left out. Such a parish can become fertile ground for rumors and complaints. [Read more…]
Msgr. Thomas McGread, the former Pastor at St. Francis of Assisi in Wichita, Kan., and the Director Emeritus of Stewardship for the Diocese of Wichita, is often referred to as the “Father of Catholic Stewardship.” In this recent Question and Answer session we conducted with the renowned stewardship pioneer, Monsignor offers his insights on how parish leaders charged with the great task of forming disciples can accomplish their goals by making Christ the center of all they do.
God has called each of us as parish leaders to help build the Church. The call and challenge for each of us is just as real, just as important, and just as total as the call on the life of any other Catholic leader, including the earliest disciples. When Jesus walked along the Sea of Galilee, He called to some fishermen, “Come follow me.” He promised that if they laid down their nets and followed Him He would make them fishers of men. These men were some of His original disciples, and they knew Christ’s call was so important that they left their secular occupation to follow Jesus. In much the same way, Jesus calls each of us to follow Him today. He is not necessarily asking us to leave our secular occupations like he asked those fishermen so long ago, but He is asking us to put Him first in our lives and to busy ourselves with building the Church. In many cases, in fact, God wants us to serve Him, to build His Church through the secular occupations we have chosen. [Read more…]
A feature film production based on the life of William Wilberforce titled Amazing Grace was released three years ago. It got its name from a real-life friendship between Wilberforce and John Newton, who wrote the words to that famous Christian hymn, “Amazing Grace.” The film, however, told the story of one of the most amazing figures in British history. Mr. Wilberforce was born in 1759 in Hull, England, and in 1780 secured a seat in the House of Commons as a Member of Parliament. For over 20 years, he persisted in trying to end the slave trade in Britain. He persisted because his faith told him to do so, and it was right to do so.
Msgr. Thomas McGread is a renowned stewardship pioneer. Beginning in the 1960s, Msgr McGread built St. Francis of Assisi in Wichita, Kansas into one of the most vibrant parishes in the country by teaching parishioners how to use their personal gifts. Msgr. McGread, now the Director Emeritus of Stewardship for the Diocese of Wichita, was influential in drafting the U.S. Bishop’s pastoral letter: Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response, which adopted his terminology and theological vision. For him, stewardship is a biblically-based principle that begins with conversion of heart and translates into a lifestyle of service.
The Catholic Steward sat down with Msgr. McGread to discuss his personal experience. During the conversation, Msgr. McGread shared his personal journey with us as well as how and why he implemented the stewardship way of life at St. Francis of Assisi. You will find that Monsignor offers tremendous insight and encouragement for all parish leaders who are charged with the great task of forming Christ’s disciples. [Read more…]