All parishes in the Jefferson City diocese will take part in the annual Catholic Stewardship Renewal this year on the weekend of Oct. 21-22.
God doing powerful things here and now, and people participating integrally in that great work.
That is the essence of Catholic stewardship, and it is in constant need of renewal.
“As Catholic stewards, we are cooperators — collaborators! — with God in the salvation of souls,” said Bishop W. Shawn McKnight. “This is about getting to heaven and doing so together with as many people as possible.”
This month, for the first time, every parish in the Jefferson City diocese is participating in the Catholic Stewardship Renewal (CSR) process.
“We’re asking God to show us how we can be more engaged in the life and mission of the Church,” said Bishop McKnight.
Every Catholic in the diocese is being invited to take part in this process, which includes committing to participate fully in the worship and sacramental life of the Church and in the building up of the parish community, and to give sacrificially to support the work of the parish.
“It is a time for us to think, to pray, to discern what God is asking of us right here, right now, in light of the many gifts and blessings he has bestowed upon us, especially the time and the talents we possess, as well as our treasure,” the bishop stated.
By renewing the commitment to stewardship each year, prayerfully and in fellowship with fellow parishioners, Catholics throughout the diocese reaffirm their support of the mission and ministries of their parish and of the whole Church.
This annual stewardship renewal strengthens the ministry of each parish by calling everyone into a deeper level of discipleship and relationship with the Lord Jesus.
“We don’t give back to God because he needs it,” said Bishop McKnight. “We give back because it’s what we need to do.”
All 100 parishes and missions in the diocese have now made the transition to the stewardship model of supporting their ministries, ranging from worship to formation to charitable outreach.
The diocese no longer takes up a diocesan Catholic Stewardship Appeal (CSA), which was conducted apart from the parishes each year in order to sustain diocesan ministries that benefit all the parishes.
The stewardship model replaces the CSA and a labyrinthian annual assessment to parishes, known as the Cathedraticum, with a simple tithe from each parish to fund functions of the diocese.
As such, parishioners are now encouraged to add to their parish commitment what they would have pledged to the CSA.
“The one thing that I like to point out over and over again: the diocese is nothing more than the bishop and the sister parishes,” said Bishop McKnight.
“So when you’re talking about the diocese, you’re talking about your fellow Catholics in parishes throughout these 38 counties, led and united by a bishop who is sent here to serve,” he stated.
In anticipation of the CSR, every registered Catholic household in the diocese has received or will receive a letter and a packet of information from the local parish.
It will include a detailed overview of the ministries the parish offers and invites parishioners to take part in, along with a commitment form for parishioners to study and act upon.
Fr. Jones suggested reviewing the CSR materials prayerfully, with an open heart and with each member of the family.
“As yourselves, ‘How am I doing?’ ‘How are we doing?’ ‘Are we living as effective stewards, supporting the mission, the ‘why,’ of our parish church?’ and ‘What more can we do?’” he suggested.
Fr. Jones said the CSR is a spiritual process, with God at the center.
He likened it to how Catholics spend 40 days in prayer and preparation to renew their Baptismal Promises on Easter Sunday.
“The CSR process gives us the opportunity to say, very concretely through our participation, that ‘I believe in the mission and vision of my parish, and I’m willing to support it with everything that I am and everything that I have,’” he said.
Bishop McKnight looked back on reviewing the parish stewardship renewal information as a boy in his home parish in Wichita.
“I first had to stop and think about what I was already doing for the Church,” he recalled. “And you know, when I was comparing the other activities I had throughout the week at school, with the sports that I was doing, I realized I was doing so little!”
Realizing that he could and should do more, he went through the list of activities that children could help with at church.
He saw that many of the activities would fit well into his already busy schedule.
“The Church is simply asking us all to consider, in the light of God’s grace, ‘What more we could be doing?’” the bishop stated. “And there are ways of doing more without exhausting yourself.”
His suggestion for reviewing the CSR materials: “Look at where you are now in your relationship with God and in your participation in your local parish, and then ask, ‘Is there one more thing — something you could add to that, and just over time grow in the life of stewardship?’
“And if there is a little bit more you can do this time during the renewal, go ahead and commit to it,” he said.
But don’t overcommit.
“That’s not what the Church is asking of us,” the bishop cautioned. “Take little steps and reevaluate each year.”
Bishop McKnight said the Catholic Stewardship Renewal is also a time for each parish to think about what it’s doing, what it’s not doing, and what it should be doing.
“Sometimes, we get kind of stuck in ruts of what we’ve always been doing, and it’s the same old people doing the same old thing,” he stated. “So really, it’s about breaking down some barriers to allow people to try something new.”
Bishop McKnight said he’s grateful to see Catholics throughout the diocese respond to the call to live as intentional disciples and good stewards of the faith.
“It’s such an exciting thing to see people getting to know what it means to live in the Church beyond just going to Mass on Sunday,” he said.
He pointed to ministries and activities that take place throughout the week, such as helping new Catholics learn about the faith, pray more effectively and participate more fully in the life of the Church.
“That’s what this is all about, really — our Lord’s desire is that more people join us at the Eucharistic table, and living the good Catholic life is what does that,” the bishop stated.
Fr. Jones said the CSR process presents an important annual reminder: “Namely, that our lives don’t belong to us. They belong to the Lord! And when we recognize that, we begin to live differently.”
“We live it out in our relationship with our time, we live it out in our relationship with our talents, with our treasure, with our children,” he said.
All of this affects the vitality of parishes, the raising-up of vocations and the discipleship of every parishioner.
“And if you have parishes that are vital, healthy, calling people to vocations, whatever that vocation may be, and filled with intentional disciples, guess what! The Church is gonna’ grow,” he said.
That’s been the model for the Church since Jesus summoned his first followers.
“The ‘why’ of the Church is to save souls, through worshipping God, through evangelizing the nations and through serving the poor,” Fr. Jones noted.
“And really, that’s the focus of what our diocese is trying to do.”