While studying Pope Francis’s “Joy of the Gospel,” LeAnn Korsmeyer was struck by his notion that church buildings should never be sterile places.
“A church is better when it’s a little messy, because that means we’re using it for what it’s built for,” said Mrs. Korsmeyer. “The lights should be on and the chairs and the kneelers should be worn.
“And we need to be rising up, going out and doing the work God has in mind for us,” she said.
Mrs. Korsmeyer, diocesan coordinator for Women’s Ministry, previously a parish director of religious education and faith formation, helped compose the materials for the four-part “A Steward’s Way” Advent study program for the diocese.
Bishop W. Shawn McKnight is encouraging Catholic men and women of all ages to take part in weekly study groups involving “A Steward’s Way” — not only in preparation for Christmas but also as part of the formulation of a new diocesan pastoral plan.
The program is based on “Joy of the Gospel,” Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation on the New Evangelization.
“A Steward’s Way” is designed for small-group faith-sharing groups, but there is also an online version for people who cannot leave home.
Each session focuses on an aspect of gratitude — among family and friends, in the community, in the Church and in the nation.
Each includes an excerpt from “Joy of the Gospel,” along with discussion questions and a list of opportunities for putting what’s been discussed into action during the upcoming week.
“These are ordinary things you can do because you’re aware of God’s goodness, and you recognize the people around you who need help,” said Mrs. Korsmeyer.
Each session closes with a prayer of thanksgiving.
“Where our minds go, our actions follow,” said Mrs. Korsmeyer. “When we are in a state of gratitude, we act in gratitude.”
“A Steward’s Way” is geared toward applying “Joy of the Gospel” to three of Bishop McKnight’s key priorities for the diocese: increasing the capacity of parishes to be centers of mercy and charity; building up a spirituality of stewardship based on gratitude to God; and promoting more effective collaboration among the ordained and the laity.
“As part of His divine plan, God has created for us a place to nourish and grow stronger in our faith and then go out into the community and share those gifts,” said Mrs. Korsmeyer.
The foundation for “A Steward’s Way” began as a collaboration between Mrs. Korsmeyer and Carolyn Saucier, a specialist in adult faith formation who served for many years as diocesan associate director of religious education.
They worked together in 2017 on a program entitled “The Gift of Gratitude: Dedicating Ourselves to Thanks-Giving.”
Each session of “A Steward’s Way” is designed to stand alone but also to build on the others in promoting awareness, gratitude, action and unity.
“When we work in union, we are working as God’s family,” said Mrs. Korsmeyer.
“Our greatest joy and peace comes when we give of ourselves,” she said. “You have nothing to fear when you’re doing God’s will.”