Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 3, 2004
Stewardship director appointed
Archdiocese begins to harvest parishioners' multitude of talents
By RAMON GONZALEZO
WCR Staff Writer
Mary-Ann Yusep plans to ask you to give more of your time, talent and treasure to build the kingdom of God.
She is the new archdiocesan stewardship director and part of her job is to help Catholics become better stewards of God's gifts.
"Stewardship is passing on God's love," she explains. "It's a response to our baptismal call to be disciples of Christ. Christian stewards receive God's gifts gratefully, cultivate them responsibly, share them lovingly with others and return them with increase to the Lord."
Sharing one's gifts and returning them to God means giving generously of one's time, talent and treasure, she said. One gives to God by sharing with the Church and with those in need.
Time and talent can be shared by becoming involved in parish life and volunteering. Treasure can be shared by making a conscious effort to make a financial gift to God first.
Yusep, a mother of three and a member of St. John the Evangelist/Holy Spirit Parish, brings to the position years of experience in office and volunteer management as well as in community development.
City of Edmonton worker
She coordinated a citywide community project with the City of Edmonton's waste management branch for five years before becoming stewardship director. The project provides public education on waste reduction strategies and collects unwanted household waste from residences to donate to charities, churches, schools and non-profit groups.
Yusep, a native of Hartford, Conn., grew up and spent most of her life in the Philadelphia area. She moved to Canada in 1988 and to Edmonton in 1990. She and her three children, Johnna, 10, Mary, 12 and Ryan, 13 are active at St. John the Evangelist Parish, where Yusep has served as Sunday school teacher and RCIA sponsor.
She is also part of the parish's music ministry as a flute player and last January helped start a support group for widowed, divorced and separated Catholics. Her children are all members of the parish youth group and one, Ryan, is also an usher. Yusep said Archbishop Thomas Collins' articles on stewardship in the WCR ignited her interest in the concept of stewardship and led her to apply for the position last February.
"I was very enthused and interested in the concept of stewardship because I was practising, to the best of my knowledge, stewardship of the environment in my work and in my personal life."
No theology degree
When she saw the job posting, Yusep realized, to her disappointment, that she didn't have the theology degree required for the position.
"I though I was perfect for this job but I did not apply because of that," she recalled. About a month after the job posting had expired, she came across it again and she heard a voice say, "You'll never know."
She did not listen to that voice at first but it kept nagging at her. She checked the stewardship office website and after realizing that they still had not hired a stewardship director, she decided to apply.
"And here I am," she smiles. "I will be able to help people become the stewards that they were meant to be. This is a way for us to be everything that Christ wanted us to be and I would say that it is more than a career for me; it is a way of life."
As stewardship director, Yusep manages the stewardship office and is responsible for overall stewardship education and development in the archdiocese.
She will work closely with a 10-member stewardship advisory committee established by Collins last October. The team has already produced a mission statement for the stewardship office and is currently working on a pastoral plan.
"Our job is to help people in the Archdiocese of Edmonton to understand the spirituality of stewardship," Yusep said. "And we will be doing that through conferences and presentations on stewardship, what it means, how you can live your life as a good steward."
In July, Yusep will spend a week in California receiving training on the spirituality of stewardship. And in September she and others will attend a stewardship conference in New Orleans. "This is very exciting," she said. "There will be a lot of learning and a lot of discernment for me to be able to be formed as a good steward so that I can lead this initiative."
The concept is widely used in the United States and some parts of Canada, including Halifax and Winnipeg.
Yusep said stewardship is a long-term initiative whose effectiveness will be difficult to measure, although she expects some results within a couple of years. Indicators of success will be a stronger spirituality in faith communities, an increase in participation in the sacraments and parish life and an increase in vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
"We will see our parishes become more vibrant and full of life and full of the Spirit," she said.