The Diocese of Rochester is asking Catholics to contemplate "The Joy of Stewardship" once again during Stewardship Day 2010, which will take place April 24 from 8 a.m. until noon at Church of the Assumption, 20 East Ave., Fairport.
During this sixth-annual event, parishioners and parish staff will be able to celebrate stewardship as a way of life and share related ideas, practical advice and spiritual inspiration, according to Mark Clark, associate director of the diocesan Office of Stewardship and Communications.
Bishop Matthew H. Clark will open the day with a talk on "The Joy of Stewardship," which has been the theme of the event since 2007. Charles Zech, director of the Center for the Study of Church Management at Villanova University, will then give his keynote presentation on "Myths and Realities of Catholic Giving." Zech, who was the 2008 recipient of the International Catholic Stewardship Council’s Christian Stewardship Award, has penned more than 75 books and articles about stewardship and best practices for Catholic parishes.
"He has been studying Catholic stewardship on both the diocesan and parish levels for more than 18 years (and is) a popular speaker on successful methods of church management and finances via data-based research," Clark said.
Zech also will lead two workshops later in the day. In the first he’ll discuss various techniques parishes use to promote stewardship and analyze the effectiveness of each. Later in the day, he’ll identify so-called "routine" parish activities that also have been shown to enhance parishioners’ stewardship.
"Generally a lot of things that are already going on are already stewardship-related but not often labeled that way or thought of that way," Clark said. "It’s really not a new program or initiative. It’s more connecting the dots between the things we’re already doing and trying to make them better."
In another workshop, Sister of St. Joseph Patricia Schoelles, president of St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry in Pittsford, will discuss the theological and spiritual aspects of stewardship. She’ll also discuss ways for Catholics to live out their discipleship at home and in their parishes during this discipleship-focused third season of the Spirit Alive! diocesan spiritual renewal.
The last workshop will feature a panel of representatives from parishes that have embarked on or advanced along stewardship journeys. These representatives will share insights they’ve learned along the way and discuss what did or did not work for their parishes. Incidentally, more than 70 diocesan parishes now are stewardship-focused, Clark said. A handful of these parishes started focusing on stewardship in the mid-1990s, but the majority of them have taken these steps within the last decade.
About one-third of these parishes are in the beginning phase, which entails discernment, research and study. Another third are in the second phase, which involves putting together a formal stewardship committee and stewardship plan. The remaining parishes are in the third and final phase, Clark said.
"The final big step is to ask the members to make a commitment of time, talent and treasure," he said.
St. Agnes Parish in Avon will be taking this step this spring, and will be the latest parish to do so, he remarked.
Registration is required for Stewardship Day, and the registration fee includes a continental breakfast. The fee is $10 for those who register by April 15, and $12 for those registering after that date.
Registration forms may be downloaded from St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry’s Web site, www.stbernards.edu, and at that site registrants also have the option of registering and paying online using a credit card.
EDITOR’S NOTE: For more information about Stewardship Day 2010, contact the Office of Stewardship and Communications at 585-328-3228, ext. 1297, or visit www.dor.org/sd.