Building God’s kingdom: Gratitude provides motivation for stewardship, presenter says

| Jennifer Janikula for The Catholic Spirit | August 13, 2014 | 0 Comments
Laurie Whitefield

Laurie Whitefield

When most people hear the word stewardship, their minds leap to money. But stewardship in the Catholic sense involves much more than money — it’s a calling and a way of life.

Laurie Whitfield, one of seven scheduled presenters for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis’ Development and Stewardship Day on Aug. 21, hopes to help attendees expand their definition of stewardship and get excited about the blessings of “stewardship spirituality.”

Using the Pastoral Letter on Stewardship from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops as the foundation of her presentation, Whitfield describes stewardship as an expression of discipleship motivated by gratitude.

“Once I say ‘yes’ and accept Jesus’ mission as my own, everything is a gift — you open it, you discover it, you explore it and you share it,” Whitfield explained. “Motivation to take care of God’s gifts comes from gratitude for all God has given us. We offer ourselves and our gifts in his service.”

As director of the Office of Parish Stewardship for the Diocese of Rockville Centre, N.Y., Whitfield believes stewardship becomes a “beautiful expression of our discipleship” when it moves beyond an annual parish appeal and becomes our way of being in the world. She encourages clergy, religious and lay parish leaders to reignite the fire of their faith and then pass it on.

“You can’t light the fire of the people in the pews until your own fire is lit,” Whitfield said. “It’s like the Easter Vigil — the priest uses his candle to light the candles of those around him. Then, the light passes from person to person.”

Whitfield explained that sharing your fire, your faith and your gifts with the purpose of building God’s kingdom brings joy and energy that attracts people to a parish community.

“If we work with the people that we have and really energize them, they will attract and invite others,” Whitfield explained. “We need to inspire excellence in our liturgies and ministries. At each point of contact with God’s people, we need to strive to give the best of ourselves and share the gifts we have been given. Let’s be the best disciples we can be ­— proud, generous, joyous, peaceful and strong. Who wouldn’t want to connect with us?”

Sprinkled with stories and humor, Whitfield’s presentation will offer many practical ideas and resources to help parishes engage their members and promote stewardship spirituality. She advises parish leaders to “feed themselves” through prayer by reading books or attending retreats. She also urges parish leaders to continually evaluate how the parish is meeting the needs of the community.

Whitfield also reminds us to celebrate the good things happening in our parishes:

“Stewardship is about each of us fulfilling our unique role in the building of God’s kingdom,” she said. “It’s like the parable of the sower — we are all planting seeds constantly; some land on fertile soil. Focus on those blessings, focus on the good.”

The Office of Development and Stewardship will host Development and Stewardship Day from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 21, at St. John the Baptist in New Brighton. Seven speakers will guide participants through topics that include: finding balance in the life of ministry, planned giving, endowments, creating trusting relationships and shared purpose, recruiting parish volunteers and parish strategic planning.

Whitfield will present “A Disciple’s Journey: Seatbelts Optional!” during the lunch session. She will also host an evening breakout session called “Ministry Fairs and Beyond: Celebrating Shared Gifts in the Parish” and be available throughout the event for questions and conversation.

Registration is $10. Attendees are welcome to stay for all or part of the day. To see the event agenda, download the 2014 Stewardship Toolkit, and register, visit http://www.archspm.org/stewardship-day-2014/ or call Margaret Slawin, associate director of development and stewardship, at (651) 290-1649.


Development and Stewardship Day

Hosted by the archdiocesan Office of Development and Stewardship

8:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Thursday, Aug. 21
St. John the Baptist, New Brighton

Seven speakers will guide participants through topics that include:

  • Finding balance in the life of ministry
  • Planned giving
  • Endowments
  • Creating trusting relationships and shared purpose
  • Recruiting parish volunteers
  • Parish strategic planning

Participants may come and go as they’re able. Stay for all or part of the day.

Register

Fee is $10.
Register and view the event agenda and download the 2014 Stewardship Toolkit
Registration deadline is Aug. 18.

Learn more

Contact Margaret Slawin at (651) 290-1649 or slawinm@archspm.org.

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