Hooked on stewardship

| Julie Pfitzinger | December 14, 2011 | 0 Comments

Two parishes share what’s landed good results in their communities

St. Odilia’s Hooked on Ministry booth, from left: Len Krenik, Jim Donnelly, Pat Keyes, Mike McCarthy, Deb Peters. Photo courtesy of St. Odilia Church

St. Odilia in Shoreview and St. Therese in Deephaven were both recently honored at the International Catholic Stewardship Conference in Orlando, Fla., for the creative and innovative steps they have taken around the topic of stewardship in their parish communities.

More than 1,000 people — pastors, parish leaders, development directors and others — from 156 different dioceses across the world attended the event, which included a wide variety of presentations and workshops about stewardship in all its various forms.

Making a PACT in Shoreview

St. Odilia was the runner-up for the Archbishop Thomas J. Murphy Stewardship Award and received a second-place commendation. Five members of the nine-person parish stewardship committee attended the conference, enthusiastic about sharing with others what has worked at St. Odilia and learning from other parishes also working to enhance their own stewardship programs.

St. Odilia, with approximately 1,500 households, currently has more than 130 different ministries in which parishioners of all ages and interests can participate. A 40-page book called “Come Journey: A Guide to Parish Resources and Ministry Opportunities” is available for all parishioners, and the church also holds an annual ministry fair.

The invitation to stewardship is focused on what the parish calls “PACT with the Great Spirit,” with elements that include prayer, attitude, change of heart, trust, giving and service.

“When we were at the conference, PACT was a great way for us to explain how we see stewardship at St. Odilia,” said Len Krenik, a member of the stewardship committee. “We had a lot of people ask us about this model, which gave us a great opportunity to share how the Lord has blessed us here at the parish.”

The group also sponsored a “Hooked on Ministry” booth at the convention. Dressed in fishing garb, they handed out copies of their ministry booklets, examples of their time and talent forms, sheets with the parish “PACT with the Great Spirit” prayer and goldfish crackers.

St. Odilia stewardship committee members were also inspired by ideas shared by other parish representatives.  Jim Donnelly attended a workshop called “The Welcoming Parish” hosted by a Florida church, and three points the presenter offered regarding parish community spoke strongly to him.

“The main focus of a church is to bring people to Jesus Christ.  Once they are at the church, the people don’t care what you know until they know you care about them,” Donnelly said. “And they are more likely to get involved and stay involved in parish life if their friends are there doing the same.”

Common challenges faced by stewardship leaders include drawing in young people, educating parishioners about stewardship and the full integration of parishes with members who speak two languages; this is an issue facing St. Odilia, which offers a 12:45 p.m. Spanish language Mass every Sunday.

According to Krenik, members of the St. Odilia stewardship committee are always willing to talk to stewardship committee members from other local parishes to share what has worked in their own community.

“It is so important for all of us to teach stewardship to the next generation,” he said. “If we don’t pass on the traditions of stewardship, they will be lost.”

Making a video

Visitors to the St. Therese website can immediately click on a video introducing them to the many facets of stewardship at the Deephaven parish. The video was a runner-up in the Parish Stewardship Video Award category at the ICSC convention.

“I’ve attended these conferences for several years and learned that other parishes had videos on their websites,” said Edward  Smith, parish business administrator. “We have a communications committee here, so we decided to see what we could do.”

The making of the video was an exercise in stewardship itself as the talents of many parishioners contributed to the project, including a photographer, an individual with voice-over experience who served as narrator, as well as the parish choir, which provided the soundtrack. Activities both inside the church and outside, including young parishioners tending the St. Therese community garden, are prominently featured.

“With today’s technology, videos like this one are relatively easy to make,” Smith said. “From monitoring our parish website, I know the video receives a lot of hits.”

Resources available

For information about the stewardship program at St. Odilia in Shoreview, including all the information the parish compiled to present to the International Catholic Stewardship Conference award committee, visit http://www.stodilia.org and click on “Stewardship.”
The website address for St. Therese in Deephaven is http://www.st-therese.org; the parish video is located on the home page.

The archdiocesan Office of Development and Stewardship has many resources for parishes, including a Stewardship Tool Kit containing information on implementing stewardship programs and other ideas.

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