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Parish leaders attend summit on stewardship

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

By David Eck

DAYTON DEANERY — When Christians recognize God’s love and gifts and share them with others we fulfill a call to be God’s co-workers in building His kingdom.

That was a key message Father Samuel Hose shared during his keynote address at the 2010 Stewardship Summit, held June 23-24 at the University of Dayton. Sponsored by the archdiocesan Stewardship Department, the event featured speakers, workshops and fellowship.

Father Samuel Hose
Father Samuel Hose (Courtesy photo)

Stewardship is recognizing the gifts God has given us and sharing those gifts with others, said Father Hose, a pastor in the Diocese of Austin. He founded and built a Texas parish based on the spirituality of stewardship.

“Stewardship is not about increasing collections,” Father Hose said. “Stewardship is really about the essential goodness of every human being.”

Father Hose said new pastors should take time to make changes in their parishes and earn the trust of the parish before they begin speaking about stewardship. They should also work to get a larger percentage of parishioners involved in running the parish, he said.

“Stewardship unifies the parish in all of its diversity. It recognizes that people are who God made them to be and celebrates that. It recognizes that in that diversity, in all the gifts that are there, one community can be formed,” Father Hose said. “It is about discipleship. It’s about being co-workers with Jesus Christ, taking on responsibility for working with Him to bring about a transformation of the world.”

In the end, stewardship unites us with Christ and with each other, he said. Material things for the parish come about because people are grateful. They believe in church leaders, and they want to build, so they share.

Father Hose explained that his small parish began with $300,000 in debt, worshipping in a school cafeteria. Within five years the parish of about 325 families dedicated a $5 million church.

About 250 people from parishes across the Cincinnati archdiocese attended the summit. In addition to dozens of pastors, parish business mangers, directors of religious education and other staff members participated in the event.
 
Workshops covered such topics as starting a parish stewardship program, forming people as disciples and stewards, becoming an engaged parish and organizing parish leaders. Workshop presenters included authors, teachers and directors of stewardship from dioceses across the country. There were also several exhibitors offering products and services related to stewardship.

Jim Kelley
Jim Kelley, director of development for the Diocese of Charlotte, N.C., discusses how to create a detailed stewardship plan during the summit. (CT/David Eck)

The sessions gave parish leaders the “nuts and bolts” of establishing stewardship committees in their parishes, said Brian Doyle, associate director of the archdiocesan Stewardship Department. Key among those are becoming extremely welcoming communities and engaging parishioners in the life of the parish, he said.
 
In opening remarks, Cincinnati Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr encouraged attendees to take what they learned at the summit and put it into practice in their parishes.

“Imagine the already remarkable generosity of Cincinnati Catholics unleashed in a wave of spirit-filled discipleship,” Archbishop Schnurr said. “What blessings might flow from such a transformation? Stronger family lives; our children more firmly rooted in their faith; vocations in greater numbers to the priesthood, religious life, and lay ministry; generous welcome and protection of God’s gift of life at every stage; hospitality that embraces new Catholics and opens the door for those who seek homecoming; a just and glad-hearted sharing of the resources with which we have been graced.”

The summit was part of an archdiocesan stewardship initiative, Doyle said. The goal was to educate parish leaders in promoting stewardship as a way of life.
 
The initiative also includes an offertory enhancement component that will begin this fall in about 70 parishes, Doyle said. Through announcements, letters and lay witness, parishes will be asking their members to prayerfully consider how much money they are contributing to the parish. The process will also allow parishes to report on their current financial issues and how they use donations. Additional parishes will participate in the offertory enhancement component in 2011.

“Stewardship isn’t a new concept,” Doyle said. “Christ himself was an example of being a good steward. He was the model of stewardship.”

David Eck can be reached at deck@catholiccincinnati.org.

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