Stewardship and Development
Director: Joel Hennessy
The Stewardship Office Helps Catholics Become Good Stewards of God's Gifts
What is a Christian Steward? "One who accepts God's gifts graciously, cherishes and tends them in a responsible and accountable manner, shares them in justice and love with others, and returns them with increase to the Lord." (USCCB: Stewardship: A Disciple's Response)
The Hebrew Scriptures speak of stewards as managers and supervisors of the goods belonging to another. The steward is usually a slave and always viewed as expendable if accountability for and increased value of his master's possessions is not achieved.
This concept expands and changes in light of the teachings of Jesus. Disciples of Christ are now no longer slaves; they are friends, adopted sons and daughters of God, even co-heirs with Christ of God's kingdom. Supporting the household and God's kingdom becomes our responsibility in light of our revolutionary status before our Creator.
Jesus, in 20 specific parables and moments of teaching, as recorded in Sacred Scripture, speaks about wealth and possessions, about us as receivers of God's largess. All is gift. We need to grow and live our deep gratitude in light of this profound reality.
Stewardship is a way of living our lives as disciples of Jesus. Being a steward requires conversion. We all know t hat conversion is not a single event like baptism or graduation from high school. Conversion is a life-long process, fraught with confrontation around temptations, doubts, and all the "isms" that discourage stewardship -- commercialism, materialism individualism.
The Office of Stewardship and Development has a mission to assist, teach, affirm, and empower Catholics to discover, grow and live out discipleship as stewards of God's gifts. The Director of Mission Advancement will respond to invitations to meet with finance and pastoral councils and present evenings of reflection all focused upon the spirituality of stewardship. A variety of follow-up activities often grow from these occasions and facilitation is provided as a service to parish communities.
Applying the skills of a resource development professional in securing the future of our diocese and of all our faith communities is the second and co-equal responsibility of this office. There are many practical applications that assist parishes in developing parishioner's involvement in the process of identifying needed ministries, programs and operational realities.
When parishes want to build or remodel a major capital campaign is usually required. This office provides assistance in such decisions and helps the pastor and parish leadership select a fund-raising counsel, if one is needed. Communication options are studied, processes for dialogue and comments from all parish members are implemented. As the spirituality of stewardship matures, more people become involved in parish activities as volunteers and participants, new skills are applied in areas of need and necessary revenues flow from a revitalized concept of responsibility for God's kingdom on earth.
Another vital area of the Office of Stewardship and Development is building support for the apostolic ministry of our bishop through the annual diocesan appeal. Long term stability for this ministry and the vitality of our local parishes requires that we plan how our assets -- our accumulated wealth in property, cash and investments -- will be used to provide for our senior years and the work of the church after our death. Thus, estate planning and planned charitable giving need careful thought before making final decisions.