Three parishes share stewardship success stories

| Kristi Anderson for The Catholic Spirit | October 9, 2012 | 0 Comments

The following is the second in a three-part series on stewardship.

Catholics understand stewardship as a way of life — as an opportunity and responsibility to receive God’s gifts gratefully, cultivate them responsibly, share them lovingly in justice with others, and return them with increase to the Lord.

Three parishes contacted by The Catholic Spirit shared how they are nurturing stewardship in the daily lives of their members through prayer, social media and ongoing formation.

Social media as a tool

Holy Name of Jesus in Medina recently bolstered its social media campaign geared toward engaging and informing parishioners about stewardship by promoting its presence on Facebook and Twitter.

“We have one Facebook page for our parish and school, and another Facebook page and a Twitter account for our youth ministry program,” said Nicole Mamura, communications coordinator for the parish.

“We try to post daily and vary our content to include information about current ministries and events, blog posts, opportunities for faith formation, photos, shout-outs to parishioners involved in ministries or celebrating successes as well as sharing articles from other Catholic publications and blogs,” she said.

As with any pilot program, the parish is still working out the bugs.

“One of the biggest challenges,” Mamura said, “is trying to figure out what content will resonate with the audience — what will drive them to click ‘like’ or leave a comment. Photos usually are popular, as are posts related to our youth and school.”

The parish focuses specifically on stewardship by directing parishioners to online testimonials from other parishioners about sharing their time and talent.

“It’s very rewarding when you see people truly sharing their experiences at Holy Name of Jesus and building community through Facebook,” Mamura said.

“We experienced this clearly in February, when Father Arnold Weber, who was pastor here for over 20 years, passed away. So many parishioners shared their memories of him on our Facebook page. It was touching to see how this means of communication — which hadn’t even been launched yet while Father Arnold was pastor — could be used to continue his ministry.”

Prayer and understanding

St. Bernard in Cologne, a rural community of 250 families, launched stewardship efforts following the guidance provided in the archdiocesan parish stewardship planner/toolkit.

“October, a time for harvest, works well for our parish to celebrate stewardship,” said Roger Storms, chair of the stewardship committee and lifelong member of St. Bernard.

“By praying about stewardship, we need to consider our return to the Lord first, for all the gifts the Lord has given us,” he said.

“Our goal is to help parishioners be good stewards of their time, talent and treasure,” Storms said. “The biggest challenge is in making a commitment. We are asking people to commit their time, through prayer and worship; their talent, through volunteering for ministries; and through their treasure, by financially supporting the parish.”

A challenge St. Bernard faces is that it has no paid staff to manage volunteers or follow up with parishioners.

“This year we have a contact person listed for each ministry who will be able to answer questions about the ministry and do follow-up contact,” Storms said.

Through these efforts, St. Bernard plans to create a parish accountability report for parishioners and continue the planned giving program outlined in the stewardship planner/toolkit (available at http://www.archspm.org/departments/development
-stewardship; click on “stewardship toolkit”).

Forming disciples

St. John the Baptist in New Brighton is shaking up its parish renewal campaign through its initiative “One Spirit — Many Gifts.”

“Rather than extending separate invitations for different parish giving appeals, we are extending one invitation that covers our annual stewardship appeal for pledges of time, talent and treasure, our capital campaign appeal and our planned giving appeal,” said the pastor, Father Michael Skluzacek, in a letter to his parishioners.

“By consolidating the three appeals into one, we hope to save parish staff time and financial resources — and hopefully give parishioners one all-inclusive document to prayerfully consider how each is being called to stewardship,” he said.

Father Skluzacek offers prayerful reflections and challenges parishioners with questions in each of five pledge areas: prayer, personal service, Sunday giving, capital pledges and planned giving.

“Does this pledge of prayer reflect the amount and kind of prayer that Jesus is calling me to? Or can I do more?” is just one example of the questions Father Skluzacek asks parishioners to ponder.

“One Spirit — Many Gifts” is based on an understanding and an internalization of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ landmark document, “Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response.”

“‘One Spirit — Many Gifts’ is focused not just on financial goals, but on alignment of parish staff and leadership around the bishops’ document,” said Alan Foley, business administrator. “Most importantly, it is focused on formation, fostering an understanding among the faithful of what the church teaches about stewardship and above all, forming parishioners as disciples.”

Living your strengthsWorkshops on starting and facilitating a Living Your Strengths Program in your parish will be held later this month in St. Paul. Participants will learn how to help parishioners discern how to recognize and use their talents as stewards.

Two workshop sessions are available:

  • Two sessions over two days — from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 23 and Tuesday, Oct. 30; or
  • One all-day session from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 27.

All sessions will be held in Smith Hall in the Hayden Center, 328 W. Kellogg Blvd., in St. Paul. Cost is $65.

More information and registration

 

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