“Now, as then and always, it is a central part of the human vocation that we be good stewards of what we have received – this garden, this divine human workshop, this world and all that is in it – setting minds and hearts and hands to the task of creating and redeeming in cooperation with our God, Creator and Lord of all.”
(Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response, 41. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops)
Every day is a gift. Our time, the blessings of talents, skills, and strengths, the abilities we have with which we provide for our families and give to those who are in need, even the challenges we face, as we recognize God’s presence through them: all of these are entrusted to us by God. When we take this realization to heart, we see that we have much for which to be grateful. How do we thank God for our many blessings? By sharing, caring, loving, giving, by living fruitfully and faithfully, as Christ’s people in the world.
We most profoundly respond in gratitude to God by living and growing as good stewards, as people who are responsible with and accountable for the many gifts we have been given by our good and gracious God.
Jesus shows us that God’s way is the way of self-giving love. On the cross, Jesus gave everything so that we might live abundantly. Jesus gave without counting the cost, and as Jesus’ followers, we are called to do likewise.
Stewardship is a disciple’s response — it is a way of putting our faith into practice. When we make a commitment to live as disciples and grow as good stewards, our daily decisions — about the ways we use our time, share our talents, face trials, give within our parish, diocese, and in the world — become focused and centered on Jesus.
Growing as good stewards requires us to pay attention — to the blessings in our lives, and the ways in which others might benefit from our caring and sharing. This attention to our gifts and the ways we may share Christ’s presence “is a rewarding way of life, a way of companionship with Jesus, and the practice of stewardship as a part of it is itself a source of deep joy. Those who live this way are happy people who have found the meaning and purpose of living.” (Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response, 21)
Founder of Catholic Life and Faith and author of Grateful Disciples and 30 Days on Stewardship
About the 2018 Diocese of Scranton Stewardship Initiative/Pilot
Since September of last year, eleven parishes have been actively engaged in a pilot process called “Grateful Disciples: Building a Culture of Stewardship in the Diocese of Scranton.” These parishes have been supported by an Integration Team of facilitators and coaches, helping them to study, apply their new learnings to implementation plans for 2019, and ensuring that these plans are integrated with the existing pastoral plan already guiding each participating community. The pilot parishes are:
St. Vincent de Paul, Milford Twp.;
Saints Peter and Paul, Plains;
St. John the Evangelist, Pittston;
St. Joseph Marello, Pittston;
St. John Vianney, Montdale;
Cathedral of St. Peter, Scranton;
St. Katharine Drexel, Pleasant Mount;
Ascension, Forest City;
Our Lady, Queen of Peace, Brodheadsville;
St. Joseph the Worker, Williamsport
Pilot participants have gathered monthly all together – in person and through webinar – with our consultant, Leisa Anslinger of Catholic Life and Faith. Between these gatherings, each parish group has met to continue developing strategies for integrating the message of Grateful Disciples into their parish activities relative to: Hospitality and Welcome, Communication, Engaging Parishioners, and Annual Renewal of Participation Agreements. The January gathering will be a “show and tell” opportunity for each parish to present their unique approach to this process. From the efforts of this pilot initiative, all of the remaining parishes of the Diocese will benefit with the refined tools and experienced guides. We are currently enlisting parishes to begin this process in late Spring.
The themes of the Grateful Disciples Pilot process are also the focus of the 2019 Office for Parish Life Calendar. Parish leaders will appreciate this opportunity to reflect together, share faith, and pray into a parish culture of gratefully tending all of God’s good gifts. Some parishes use the monthly pages in their parish bulletins.
To further assist those parishes working to more deeply incorporate the spirituality of stewardship into their parish life, the Office for Parish Life will be offering a new toolkit. The Stewardship Toolkit will be formatted similarly to those currently offered for Communication, Engagement, Evangelization, Hospitality, and Adult Faith Formation. To access any of these toolkits, go to https://scrantontoolkits.weebly.com.
Intended Outcomes and Benefits
Intended Outcomes/Benefits of creating a culture of Stewardship within your parish community:
- Bring joy and contentment to parishioners who will experience the benefits of stewardship in their personal lives
- Movement toward even more “fully participative parishes” demonstrated in active engagement of parishioners in all aspects of parish life;
- Energized parish efforts to put their pastoral plans into action (where one already exists), with increased member response to ministry needs and new initiatives;
- Serve as the foundation for enhanced parish-based giving – increased offertory appeal, parish capital campaign, planned giving – rooted in the heightened awareness of shared responsibility for the mission, now we promote participating in securing the “means for the mission;”
- Linking the increased offertory to the parish’s desire to achieve newly articulated ministry goals and to develop the leadership required to sustain these ministries;
- Positioning for more effective partnership initiatives because of common language, value placed on collaboration in the name of the mission, and the leavening energy of conversion.