Bishop urges parishes to call forth, not bury, people’s talents

Encourages clergy, parish leaders to let ‘Holy Spirit shake things up a little bit’


Parishes should never allow their priceless treasures to be buried.

Namely, the talents and ideas of the people, which need to be called forward and cultivated for the building up of God’s Kingdom.

“The Lord is inviting us to be more industrious and more diligent, to be more open, to be more resourceful, and to let the Holy Spirit shake things up a little bit,” said Bishop W. Shawn McKnight on Nov. 19.

He was preaching a homily on the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) while offering Sunday Mass Nov. 19 in Immaculate Conception Church in Jefferson City.

“God’s a wise investor,” the bishop noted. “He gifts us all with time, with money, with natural gifts and talents and with special charisms through our baptism.

“We are called to be industrious in using those gifts and talents for the purpose for which God has given them to us: to build up his Kingdom,” he said.

No one has to do it alone. God bestows a panoply of gifts and charisms among many people so they can work together to carry out the Church’s mission.

“You can take great delight and great joy in seeing the gifts and talents and charisms of your brothers and sisters being utilized for the work of the Lord,” the bishop stated.

He challenged the clergy and parish leaders to take risks and try new things when laypeople, through the Catholic Stewardship Renewal, offer new gifts and propose new ways of doing things.

“Be open to being surprised!” he said. “That’s what the Lord is asking of us: to be willing to take that risk, to put yourself out there, to GROW a little bit in your relationship with God and in your relationship with this Church.”

“Why not?”

As the Catholic Stewardship Renewal continues in parishes, Bishop McKnight asked everyone to continue discerning what they’re doing with what God has blessed them with — “and maybe also to strive to do a little bit more, maybe one little more thing you can add to what you’re already doing.”

He asked people to consider: “What am I doing with my time, with my talent, with my treasure? What am I doing with the charisms that God has given me? Am I using them in a way that’s meaningful in the life and mission of the Church? And if not, why not?”

He urged pastors, associate pastors, deacons, parish leaders and parish stewardship council members to welcome the gifts and talents the parishioners offer to share during the renewal, “and to find ways to utilize those gifts, those talents, those charisms in a meaningful way.”

He noted how easy it is to get locked into the same way of doing things.

“It’s important that the parish learns how to utilize all the gifts that God has given us today and not just doing the same thing the same way, over and over again,” he said.

“Something new”

The bishop reminded the young people of the parish — with their young eyes, young minds and fresh hearts — to help the older generations see new ways of fulfilling the Church’s mission and becoming more effective centers of charity and sanctuaries of mercy.

Likewise, he called on the clergy and parish leaders to invite young people to play a meaningful role in the life and mission of the Church.

“Let us not squelch the Spirit,” he said. “Let us not bury the talents that we have in our young people.”

He called to mind some advice he received as a seminarian from the pastor of his home parish, the late Monsignor Thomas McGread: “The laity are going to ask you for so many things. Try your best to resist telling them no.”

After all, he said: “It might actually work! Something new!”

Bishop McKnight noted that it can be hard to be open to new, more effective ways of fulfilling the mission of the parish when parishioners bring forth their gifts and talents.

It’s also essential.

“Because every parish has room to grow,” the bishop said. “Every parish has more that they can be doing — teaching the faith, ministering to the poor and becoming a sanctuary of mercy to those who are in need, or celebrating the Liturgy better.

“We all can do better!” he said.