Father Joseph Corel addressed his parishioners on the importance of supporting the work of the Diocese of Jefferson City through the annual Catholic Stewardship Appeal (CSA).
“The relationship between a parish and the diocese is vital,” Fr. Corel, who serves with Father David Veit as pastor in solidum of St. Vincent de Paul Parish of Pettis County, recently wrote. “We are united, we are wed together. Without the diocese, the parish does not exist. Without the parish, the diocese does not exist.”
People may ask what they receive in return for a pledge or contribution to the CSA.
“But as we continue to preach and teach stewardship rather than transactional giving,” Fr. Corel wrote, “the question needs to be turned into a statement: ‘Since I am Catholic and I belong to a universal Church that is larger than my parish, I gladly give so that together we can do more for the common good in our part of the state.’”
At the same time, supporting the work of the diocese does bring dividends to every parish.
Fr. Corel pointed out that the diocesan superintendent of Catholic schools hears from the administration of Sacred Heart School in Sedalia several times per month, “and with the COVID pandemic, leadership at the chancery has been remarkable.”
Likewise, without the quick action of Bishop W. Shawn McKnight and the diocesan financial and school services, the diocese’s Catholic schools would not have received invaluable assistance under the federal Paycheck Protection Program, Fr. Corel noted.
“That had a huge direct impact on our budget this past fiscal year and the year we are currently in,” he said.
Also, the parish finance manager remains in regular contact with diocesan human resource, finance and insurance specialists, while the parish database manager and development director make frequent use of diocesan finance and communication services.
Fr. Corel also pointed to the work of The Catholic Missourian in helping to create a Catholic culture among parishioners throughout the diocese.
“The CSA is one of the largest funding sources for the operations of the governance for our diocese at the chancery,” he stated. “I ask you to take this message to prayer.”
Trusting in God
Father Leonard Mukiibi, administrator of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in St. Thomas and St. Cecilia Parish in Meta, urged his parishioners to go a step ahead of the CSA “from understanding it as an appeal but instead understand it as the spirituality of stewardship and embrace that spirituality — that is, the trust God has invested in you and me in order to bless you so abundantly.”
Father Gregory Oligschlaeger, pastor of Holy Rosary Parish in Monroe City and St. Stephen Parish in Indian Creek, believes that trust is well placed.
He said most parishioners do not realize how often their parishes make use of the diocesan resources that are supported by the CSA.
“In one way or another, our parish is in contact with the diocese at least three times in a week,” he stated.
For instance, diocesan communications personnel has been helping disseminate information about COVID-19 protocols and policies and the livestreaming of Masses and building a new website for the parishes.
Parish employees often turn to diocesan personnel for guidance with bookkeeping, reports and the hiring of employees.
Fr. Oligschlaeger pointed out that the diocesan Matrimonial Tribunal, which helps people who are seeking an annulment, does so free of charge, thanks to the CSA.
Permanent deacons receive ongoing formation, seminarians receive direction and assistance, and the diocese’s Catholic schools receive expert guidance, he noted.
Father Jason Doke, pastor of St. Martin Parish in St. Martins, observed that although most of the work of the diocese happens behind the scenes, “the diocese provides many essential services to parishes, such as human resources management, financial services, and training of new priests.”
Father Mark Smith, pastor of St. Peter Parish in Marshall and the Mission of Holy Family in Sweet Springs, emphasized that an authentically Catholic understanding of stewardship involves vastly more than finances.
“Stewardship is not just giving money or tithing,” he reminded his parishioners. “It is the way of living of a disciple, recognizing all that the Lord has given and generously sharing it.
“Our Lord asks us to recognize what we have been given, take care of it, use it, multiply it, share it, and ultimately return it to God,” he stated.
Nonetheless, stewardship does include consideration of one’s material goods, along with time and talent.
“Stewardship,” Fr. Doke stated, “is not just about a tithe. Stewardship is about a gift of self in response to the gifts that God has given us.”
“All of this is part of a bigger picture — the picture of our relationship with God,” Fr. Smith added.