From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Conference reinforces concept of stewardship as a way of life for believers

by Mark and Linette Laiminger, for the Inland Register

(From the Jan. 16, 2003 edition of the Inland Register)

The primary theme of the 2002 International Catholic Stewardship Council (ICSC) Annual Conference, held in Toronto at the end of October, was that stewardship is a way of life. Stewardship is about more than the Annual Catholic Appeal or a capital campaign or even the weekly contribution envelope. It is an overall approach, a guiding principle for our lives as Catholic Christians. We attended the conference with an eye toward learning how to make that concept a reality.

The conference offered six tracks of presentations and workshops on stewardship. The presenters and their experiences were as diverse as the participants and as the city of Toronto.

Although stewardship of treasure was addressed, many of the workshops focused on stewardship of time and talent. These aspects of stewardship are critical to developing and adopting stewardship as a way of life. Stewardship is not a start-and-stop process, nor is it a program or a project with an end date. Stewardship as a way of life is just that – a way of life, an ongoing process, and the younger we start, the better. It involves a complete change of heart and the conference offered many examples of how this can be accomplished.

Several conference sessions referred to “Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response,” the U.S. bishops’ 1992 pastoral letter on stewardship. That letter identifies a Christian steward as one who receives God’s gifts gratefully, cultivates them responsibly, shares them lovingly in justice with others, and returns them with increase to the Lord. Instead of the expected series of innovative fund raising proposals, the bishops offered a Biblically-rooted vision with long-range potential for bearing fruit, based on a conversion of personal outlook. This vision is counter-cultural in perspective, touches every aspect of life, and calls for personal reflection and decisions – asking each of us to do more than simply reach into the pocketbook.

If you are interested in stewardship, it is not necessary to reinvent the wheel. We met many people at the conference who are committed to stewardship as a way of life and who are very willing to share their experiences.

The ICSC web site has links to many of the available resources. Many people would benefit from attending ICSC conferences. In October 2003 the conference will be in Chicago; in September 2004, in New Orleans. It’s a great place to learn good Catholic principles, as well as how we might give back of our time, talent and treasure to the Church that gives us the truth.

Our local stewardship conference, the Northwest Regional Stewardship Conference, will be held in Spokane at the Davenport Hotel on Thursday and Friday, May 8 and 9, 2003. You can request information about the conference from the Diocesan Development Office: (509) 358-4283 or (800) 689-9819

We enter this world with nothing and we leave this world with nothing. It is what we do in the meantime that earns us an eternal place by the side of Christ in heaven.

Archbishop Terence Prender-gast SJ of the Archdiocese of Halifax, Nova Scotia, offered a steward-disciple’s prayer:

“O Lord, giver of life and source of our freedom, we are reminded by the Psalmist that yours ‘is the earth and its fullness; the world and those who dwell in it.’ We know that it is from your hand that we have received all we have and are and will be. Gracious and loving God, we understand that you call us to be stewards of your abundance, the caretakers of all you have entrusted to us. Help us always to use your gifts wisely and teach us to share them generously. May our faithful stewardship bear witness to the love of Christ in our lives. We pray with grateful hearts in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

To begin applying these principles to our own lives, we obtained a number of books and resource materials, including the video, Affluenza, and the books, The Catholic Answers Guide to Family Finances and Why Catholics Don’t Give and What Can Be Done About It. We will be working through these materials as we continue our stewardship journey. We are willing to share these materials with others as a contribution of our time and talent.

(Mark and Linette Laiminger are members of Saint Anthony Parish in Spokane. They would be happy to share with others some of the resources they discovered during the ICSC conference; contact them through the Inland Register, 358-7340.)

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