The Orange Catholic Foundation Parish Stewardship Ministry recently conducted two events focused on stewardship. The first was a Priest Stewardship Day that hosted over 50 priests. The second was the Stewardship Workshop that hosted over 50 parish leaders. The purpose was to continue the long tradition of stewardship formation for our clergy and lay leaders of the diocese.
Bishop Thanh Nguyen joined the priests for the Priest Stewardship Day. Two additional speakers made presentations: Leisa Anslinger from Catholic Life and Faith and Dave Baranowski from the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
Each year in November, all the parishes in the diocese are encouraged to celebrate Stewardship Weekend which this year falls on November 10-11. This year, the theme is “Love – Serve – Share: Grow in Thankfulness.”
The Diocese of Orange and the Orange Catholic Foundation are members of the International Catholic Stewardship Council (ICSC), which hosts an annual national conference to be held this year October 28-31 in Nashville. Thirty-two delegates from the Diocese of Orange will be attending the conference, including pastors, Catholic school principals, deacons, and parish leaders and Orange Catholic Foundation staff members.
What is stewardship?
It is a lifestyle, a way of life, a life of total accountability and responsibility. It is the acknowledging of God as the Creator and Owner of all. Christian stewards see themselves as the caretakers of all God’s gifts.
Stewardship is a way of thanking God for all of our blessings by returning to God a portion of the many gifts that we have been given. It involves the intentional, planned and proportionate giving of all we have.
Finally stewardship encourages everyone to participate in the task of building the Kingdom of God.
“Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, yours are the eyes through which he is going about doing good, yours are that hands with which he is to bless people now” (St. Teresa of Avila)
What difference will stewardship make in my life?
The difference is the motivation for giving.
Stewardship acknowledges that God is the source of all of our gifts and talents and we are the caretakers of these gifts. Stewardship encourages us to make a difference and to become involved.
It challenges individuals and families to re-examine their relationship with God, each other, the workplace, the community, and the parish. And, it increases awareness and appreciation of the presence of the Lord in our lives.
“Boast not of tomorrow, for you know not what any day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1)
What is meant by giving of one’s time, talent and material possessions?
“Put your gifts at the service of one another, each in the measure he has received. Thus in all of you God is to be glorified.”(1 Peter 4:10-11)
Sharing these gifts involves being with God in prayer and worship, using our gifts to help build God’s Kingdom among our family and friends, our workplace, and our communities and parishes. It means becoming ministers of the Gospel in our communities and parishes in new ways!
“Men do not light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket. They set it on a stand where it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, your light must shine before men so that they may see goodness in your acts and give praise to your heavenly Father”(Mk 5:14-16)
Am I expected to give all I have been given to the church?
No. The church teaches that the primary vocation of the laity is to transform the world to Christ. We do this best when we share and use the gifts our generous God has given us in love and justice first at home, then in the workplace, in our communities and parishes.
Certainly, however, the parish is a focal point for coming together as disciples of Jesus. Our parish is central to our gathering for prayer and worship, celebrating the sacraments, meeting for and planning together the work of the church, and celebrating the gift of each other. We have an important responsibility to our parish to plan ways we can use and share our gifts there, but we must remember that our sense of stewardship needs to be kept broad and holistic.
“All things work for good for those who love God.” (Rm 8:28)
What’s the difference between stewardship and fundraising?
Throughout the New Testament, Jesus specifically talks about how God wants us to live our lives to help build God’s kingdom. Scripture talks about what we should be doing with the gifts that God has given us. Good stewards respond to the needs that fundraising efforts address, but they always focus on the primary fact that, as disciples of Jesus who have been gifted by a most generous God, we need to give!
“Happiness lies more in giving than in receiving” (Acts 20:35)
What’s the difference between stewardship and tithing?
Tithing is the biblical notion of giving one-tenth (10%) of our money. Good stewards reflect upon their current level of giving, and consider “taking-a-step” to a higher level of giving, if possible. The ultimate goal may be to achieve the biblical tithe, or it could be less or more, depending upon what a person/family had concluded through prayer and reflection.
The important thing is to take the first step of faith by putting God first.