Mother to speak at Stewardship Conference on April 13

Says families are the foundation of stewardship


Lisa McArdle says her children have taught her more about the Stewardship Way of Life than she’s taught them.

“A lot of people assume when you talk about stewardship that it’s just something you do within the walls of church,” said Mrs. McArdle, vice president of client services for Catholic Stewardship Consultants, and author of a book called Stewardship Starts At Home.

“So, it’s reading at Mass, planting flowers in the churchyard, helping to lead a Bible study — and these things are all, in fact, tangible ways to live out our call to stewardship,” she noted.

“But you don’t take that hat off when you leave church and put it back on when you come back,” she said. “You’re a steward, 24/7. You live it day-in, day-out, every day of your life.”

Mrs. McArdle will give a presentation on “Stewardship in the Family” during the Diocesan Stewardship Conference on Saturday, April 13, 2024, in the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Jefferson City.

The daylong event will include a series of discussions and fellowship opportunities for people throughout the diocese to become more familiar with the stewardship way of life.

Presenters will include Bishop W. Shawn McKnight; Mrs. McArdle and her husband, Eric, who is president of Catholic Stewardship Consultants; Father John Lanzrath, a priest of the Diocese of Wichita, Kansas; Patricia Lutz, director of stewardship for this diocese; and Father Stephen Jones, pastor of Cathedral of St. Joseph Parish in Jefferson City.

Bishop McKnight invites everyone to attend.

“Please join me as we explore together various ways of transforming our lives into pillars of gratitude to God and becoming more effective agents of his grace and mercy in the world,” said Bishop McKnight, whose pastor at his home parish was Monsignor Thomas McGread, fondly remembered as the father of Catholic Stewardship.


Mrs. McArdle believes that, as was strongly the case with Bishop McKnight, answering the call to stewardship begins with the family.

“Every family has a special stewardship call,” she said. “God equips each of us with talents that we need to live out the call to be holy — which everyone who’s baptized receives.

“God hard-wired us to want to give of ourselves,” she stated. “That’s where the happiness is. So, we use those gifts, those talents, in thanksgiving to God.”

Mrs. McArdle pointed to the “ordinary” gifts and everyday acts of kindness that make the world go around.

“People using their talents outside of church — sewing a button, bringing someone their mail, reaching out to people in need, helping a neighbor, bringing someone flowers — people who do these things don’t always realize that they’re living and breathing stewardship,” she said.

Understanding stewardship as a round-the-clock way of life begins at home — the domestic church — where values are taught and “caught” within families and where, as St. Teresa of Avila noted, “God walks where the pots and pans are.”

Parishes, communities and countless souls undergo radical transformation when stewardship ideals become an accepted way of life.

“There’s no short-cut, no program, no ‘crash diet’ to making this happen,” Mrs. McArdle noted.

“It’s a way of life, and we’re all called to it — not just priests and deacons and sisters and the really holy people we know,” she said.

“We’re all baptized, we’re all called to holiness — the very same holiness that any saint who inspires us was called to.”

When families adopt the stewardship way of life, the Church reflects that change in numerous ways.

Churches and schools start to fill back up, ministries become more robust and vibrant, and young people become intentional about discerning vocations to Priesthood, consecrated life and Christian marriage.

Mrs. McArdle said all of the most thriving parishes she’s seen have something in common — perpetual Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

“When I tell that to parish finance councils, they look at me like my hair is blue,” she stated.

“But, when people pray more and have a relationship with God and understand the meaning of stewardship and want to give back and want to get involved ... they take ownership in the parish and want it to thrive,” he said.

“And when they’re that invested, they want to give their resources back to the parish, back to the diocese, back to God,” she continued.

“Once people are transformed, that’s when the magic happens, you see the beauty, you see the transformation,” she said.

Close to home

Mrs. McArdle and her husband were newly married 30 years ago when their pastor offered to send them to a Catholic stewardship conference in New Orleans.

“We had no idea what the Holy Spirit was about to drop in our lap,” Mrs. McArdle recalled.

The couple came back so excited about what they wound up learning about stewardship as a way of life, they set about helping their pastor promote it throughout the parish.

“Our prayer life grew, ministries started thriving, the offertory increased exponentially,” she noted.

Neighboring parishes got word of this and asked the McArdles to come and share what they learned.

“So, this became God’s ministry for us,” said Mrs. McArdle. “As he continues to send us work, we roll up our sleeves.”

It fills her with joy to see her own children “catching” the essence of stewardship and applying it in their own unexpected ways.

One of her high-school-age daughters who had never served in a leadership role, resisted several invitations from her teacher to give a talk on being pro-life at a speech competition.

With encouragement from her teacher, her pastor and her parents, she decided to pray about it and finally said “yes.”

“I’m not going to lie: I was nervous for her,” Mrs. McArdle noted. “But when she spoke, the entire room was completely quiet. She projected confidence and eloquence that I didn’t realize she was capable of. I don’t know if she did, either.”

After winning the competition, her daughter told her, “I didn’t want to do this, but God called me to do it, and he gave me every grace to carry it out.”

After that speech, “she became quite the leader in her last two years of high school and all throughout college,” said Mrs. McArdle.

Mrs. McArlde took another of her daughters to help serve at a soup kitchen.

It was cold, and her daughter wore the coat she had just gotten for her birthday.

When it was time to go home, the coat was missing.

No matter. She told her mom, “Somebody needed it more than I did,” and left the place “beaming and smiling.”

“I said to myself, ‘Here’s an 11-year-old child telling — teaching me! — that we give and don’t count the cost,” said Mrs. McArdle.

On the other side of the age spectrum, Mrs. McArdle’s grandmother moved to the same town at age 97.

Mrs. McArdle set out to bring her lunch and Holy Communion every Sunday.

From the very first time came exciting stories and endearing fellowship.

“Then it hit me: I came here to serve her, but she wound up serving me!” said Mrs. McArdle.

Come and get it

Mrs. McArdle is confident that people who sacrifice the time end energy to attend the Stewardship Conference will be happy they did.

“Going through the motions, day in and out — it’s exhausting and busy and overwhelming,” she said. “Is there more? Yes! God wants to give us more.

“If people come away aware of these opportunities for deeper meaning, for transformation, for living a better way of life for themselves and for their family members, then even a two-hour trip is worth it,” she said.

“My hope and conviction is that people will leave with a changed heart, with a renewed sense of what God is calling them to do, what God is calling their family to do, and how to live that out in ways that bring them joy,” she said.

People who are going through a hard time and having trouble feeling grateful will also benefit.

“Looking at life through a stewardship lens, we’re thankful for both the blessings and the challenges,” she said. “Oftentimes, those challenges are how God stretches us into the people he created us to be.

“And I think the joy from a stewardship way of life allows us to endure those challenges with a much wider heart,” she said.

Mrs. McArdle suggested preparing for the conference by first considering the stewardship way of life that Bishop McKnight has been promoting in the diocese, and asking, “If I’m shying away from any aspect of it, how can I be at least a little bit more open to it?”

“Bring it to prayer,” she suggested. “Listen to where God is tapping on your heart — where to pray, where to help, where to give.”

“Ultimately, God is who gives you everything you are and everything you have,” she said. “Each of us has our own individual graces and strengths. Each one of us has our own personal stewardship story.

“I’m looking forward to exploring those stories with the people of the Jefferson City diocese and hopefully reaching a deeper understanding of our calling to be followers of Christ,” she said.