PITTSFORD — About 200 people from more than 70 parishes gathered at Church of the Transfiguration April 1 for the second annual diocesan Stewardship Day, where they learned the true meaning and origins of stewardship as well as things to consider when starting stewardship programs at their own parishes.
People often are surprised to learn that stewardship is about conversion, rather than a fundraising or recruitment campaign, said guest speaker Jim Kelley, director of stewardship and development for the Diocese of Charlotte, N.C. Stewardship is not just something Catholics are called to do, he noted; it’s a way of life.
“Stewardship is clearly based more on the individual’s need to give thanks than on the church’s need to receive,” Kelley said. “It’s all founded on being grateful to God for all our blessings.”
God has given each of us gifts, so we’re called to be stewards of those gifts and use them to give back to the church, our communities and those in need around us, said Sister of St. Joseph Patricia Schoelles, president of St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry in Pittsford, who gave a presentation on the theology of stewardship.
Catholics are called to be good stewards of their time, talent and treasure by developing their gifts and using them to help others, she said.
“Stewards don’t give because they happen to have enough to give. Stewards have received what they have received for the purpose of giving it away,” Sister Schoelles noted.
Jesus obviously thought responsible stewardship of time, talent and treasure was important, Kelley observed, as 19 of his 36 parables in the Bible are about time, possessions and money.
Some people are hesitant to embark on a stewardship journey because they are afraid they’ll go broke, but if they trust in God and realize that stewardship is part of God’s plan, Kelley said stewardship can bring a sense of joy and fulfillment to people’s lives.
Stewardship can have a profound and positive effect on Catholics as individuals and the diocese as a whole, said Bishop Matthew H. Clark.
“As Christian women and men, we are called to emulate Jesus. I can think of no better way than to live a life in which we accept the blessings of God, use them wisely and share them generously with others,” he said.
After explaining the purpose of stewardship, Kelley suggested several ways of incorporating stewardship into parish life. Handouts related to his talk may be found by visiting the diocesan Web site, www.dor.org, and clicking on the “Stewardship” link.
Five lay representatives from four local parishes also were on hand to explain how their parishes had implemented stewardship programs. They explained the pros and cons of hiring a stewardship consultant; qualities to look for in stewardship-committee members; the logistics involved in planning stewardship and renewal weekends and ministries fairs.