The final Catholic Stewardship Appeal (CSA) in this diocese is about to begin for well over half of the parishes and missions here.
Gifts and pledges to the CSA support an array of diocesan ministries that help every parish fulfill the Church’s mission of leading souls to Christ and preparing them for eternity in heaven.
“The CSA is a prime opportunity to give thanks to God by making a sacrificial gift or pledge above and beyond one’s own commitment to his or her own parish,” stated Bishop W. Shawn McKnight.
The bishop emphasized the stewardship aspect of the CSA — “seeing to it that we are fully invested in the salvific work of our Church.”
He noted that the CSA is not just about giving to a need, it’s a concrete expression of discipleship and solidarity with the whole Church.
“As followers of Christ, we humbly accept the gifts the Father bestows on us through Him, mindful of our obligation to use those gifts to serve God and one another in His name,” the bishop stated.
The theme for this year’s CSA is from Ephesians 4:12: “... To equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the Body of Christ ... .”
Among the CSA-supported ministries are: the Catholic Schools Office, the Vocations Office, youth ministry, family life, diaconate formation, the Matrimonial Tribunal, Hispanic ministry and the diocese’s efforts to strengthen and streamline diocesan and parish communications.
These and other diocesan ministries bolstered by the CSA have a direct impact on each parish’s efforts to promote discipleship and build up the Church.
This year’s $1.1 million CSA goal is lower than last year’s, due to the number of parishes that have already moved over to a stewardship model of supporting the work of the Church.
Each participating parish’s individual goal was increased by 2 percent from last year’s.
Once again, this year’s CSA funding formula highlights the crucial relationship among individual parishes and the diocese as a whole.
After the diocesan goal has been met, any parish meeting its individual goal is eligible to receive a rebate of 10 percent of the parish’s goal, plus 90 percent of any funds raised above that goal.
Parish goals must be met with cash and/or pledges received by March 15, 2023, and fulfilled by the fiscal year ending June 30, 2023.
Moving toward renewal
Next year at this time, all parishes and missions in the diocese will conduct a parish-based Catholic Stewardship Renewal (CSR), as part of the diocesan pastoral plan for carrying-out the mission of the Church more effectively.
About one-third of the parishes have already made the transition to the stewardship model.
Under that model, parishes support the work of the diocese by tithing their offertory collections.
The focus for those parishes this year and for all parishes in the diocese next year will be on making a formal commitment to support their parish through prayer, participation and sacrificial giving.
Father Stephen Jones, diocesan director stewardship, said the CSR is much more than a piece of paper.
“It’s the culmination of a yearly examination of our relationship with God and our commitment to serving Him with gratitude,” Fr. Jones stated.
He likened the CSR to how Catholics renew their Baptismal promises every year at Mass on Easter Sunday.
“We joyfully do that every Easter at the culmination of our Lenten preparation,” he said.
Likewise, the Catholic Stewardship Renewal comes after thoughtfully and prayerfully reviewing one’s own commitment to helping sustain the work of the Church; Redirecting, if necessary, any of those efforts towards work in the Church that one is better suited or more passionate about; Renewing the passion for service in God’s name; and formally Recommitting to another year of full participation and support.
“I call those ‘the Four Rs,’” Fr. Jones stated.
In parishes that have adopted the stewardship model, the Catholic Stewardship Renewal process includes hearing Christian witness from fellow parishioners as well as spiritual guidance from the pulpit at Mass.
“The actual renewal should be a crescendo, a moment where we necessarily make a public affirmation and commitment,” said Fr. Jones.
“It’s our way of publicly stating that we are a part of the parish community and that we support the mission and its vision of the parish,” he stated.
Committed to communion
Fr. Jones applied the same principle to the parishes that are taking part in their final Catholic Stewardship Appeal this year.
“Anytime we give of ourselves sacrificially for the CSA or our parish, or the second collections that support the universal Church, we’re doing what the stewardship model asks us to do,” he said.
“Namely, we are demonstrating our understanding that our parishes are fully part of the Church Universal — at the local, diocesan and international levels, through communion with our bishop and the Pope,” he said.