Monday, October 28, 2019
Ana Rodriguez Soto - Florida Catholic newspaper
MIAMI | It’s as old as Genesis and as new as Laudato Si, and it’s a whole lot more demanding than dropping a dollar in the basket on Sundays. It’s about giving our entire lives over to God, recognizing that he made us and gave us everything that we have.
That’s the definition of stewardship that Archbishop Thomas Wenski wants Catholics to take to heart. That’s why he has written a pastoral letter on “Stewardship and the theology of the gift,” which will launch a celebration of Stewardship Month in November — the month of Thanksgiving.
The celebration will be held in every one of the archdiocese’s 109 parishes and missions. It will begin the weekend of Nov. 2-3 with an “Introduction to stewardship” featuring the archbishop’s pastoral letter.
Nov. 9-10 will be “Welcome home” weekend, aimed at welcoming back those who have drifted from their churches. Parishes will have welcome tables where those coming for Mass can register as parishioners and receive information about parish ministries.
Nov. 16-17 will focus on how we “Serve and care for others,” reminding parishioners of how Jesus said we all will be judged at the end: What you did for the least of your brother, you did for me.
The month will end Nov. 23-24, the weekend anticipating Thanksgiving. Every parish is being asked to host a “ThanksFORgiving” Mass like the one the archdiocese hosts each year for those who give to the annual ABCD appeal or remember the archdiocese in their wills.
The archdiocesan Mass this year will take place on the Saturday vigil, Nov. 23, at St. Mary Cathedral, so that parishes can honor their donors on Sunday.
“Stewardship is a complete lifestyle,” said Katie Blanco Bourdeau, chief development officer for the archdiocese. “It is a life of total accountability and responsibility of our God-given resources of time, talent and treasure. The foundation of stewardship is acknowledging that God is our creator and owner of all.”
But how to convince people of that? That’s where the local parish makes all difference.
In a presentation to archdiocesan priests at their September convocation, Blanco Bourdeau stressed the connection between stewardship and feeling welcome in a church.
“Ministries, programs and other participation opportunities play a significant role in the stewardship process as it allows people to become closer to God and the Church,” she said. “Hospitality is also vital. People need to feel welcomed and have a sense of belonging to the Church. That sense of belonging is the catalyst for enhancing their sense of commitment, responsibility and participation.”
“Stewardship involves a conversion of the heart and mind,” Blanco Bourdeau added. “It is the process of transforming Mass attendees into responsible and committed parishioners.”
That sense that Church is more than Sunday Mass, and giving involves more than a once-a-week or once-a-year collection: that’s true stewardship.
As Archbishop Wenski writes in his letter: True stewardship helps us to discover “the joy of giving,” which “is the way, the only way, we will realize ourselves fully as human beings and thus respond to our baptismal vocation to holiness by becoming the people God meant us to be.”