Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 24, 2004
Stewardship builds bridges
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
Alana LaPerle had little time to detail everything her parish gives to the Sherwood Park community before it was Archbishop Thomas Collins' turn to speak.
After all, she might have used both days of the weekend assembly to talk about the 60 ministries performed by Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish.
"Our role in stewardship has been to create an atmosphere of community within OLPH to help with the 60 or so ministries we perform every year which include volunteering at the Marian Centre and providing meals for the Bissell Centre," said LaPerle, a communications consultant.
LaPerle spoke to the gathering of 400 pastoral administrators and parish council members who attended the two-day stewardship workshop May 14 and 15 at Holy Trinity Parish in Spruce Grove.
Other speakers at the assembly were fellow OLPH stewardship member Jerry Heck and Jim Kelley, director of stewardship development for the Diocese of Charlotte, N.C., whose work is the basis for much of the stewardship formation in the Edmonton Archdiocese.
Although the stewardship committee was set up at OLPH less than two years ago, the giving of time, talent and treasure in gratitude for the gifts from God remains as it has for years, says OLPH business manager Dorothy Rudkowski.
"What stewardship will do is help the volunteers to understand deeper, to reach further within themselves. Stewardship has been alive and well here for many years. It is just that we hadn't named it. We wanted to celebrate and thank the people who offer themselves. That has been our focus the first two years, to bring the word 'stewardship' into the vocabulary of the people.
"We want people to understand that stewardship goes beyond merely time, talent and treasure. You have to begin to understand what that means in our Church life and in our everyday life," she said.
Kelley, a graduate of Yale, presented a 19-item plan to the assembly about the responsibilities a parish has regarding stewardship. From his Stewardship Manual, he said that giving of one's time, talent and treasure must be done with patience and persistence.
He said the beginning of stewardship lies with each person finding their own reasons to be grateful.
"A person must have gratitude before stewardship," Kelley said. "We should think about three to five blessings in our lives every day. It is based upon giving thanks for the blessings in our lives, not about giving to the needs of the Church."
Kelley suggested each person, at some point during a day, take 20 minutes to think about their chequebook and their calendar. He asked everyone to determine how much of each is spent on the Church. "We should try to live a life of donating, whether it is our money or our time. My wife and I try to donate 10 per cent to our Church every month."
Rudkowski agrees. She says the OLPH ministries, which not only help the community with outreach programs but also the stewards themselves through prayer and Eucharist activities, have taken many years to establish.
"To see the blessings multiply takes time," Rudkowski said. "Stewardship can take 10 years. We are just into our second year. We are taking baby steps."
Establishing the Faith Cafe ministry at OLPH last year was more of a leap for stewards and parishioners who wanted to have a deeper respect for God and the blessings in their lives.
Mary Friesenhan, a retired school teacher, helped organize the program. Cafe, meaning "Catholic Faith Exploration," which is a series of eight evenings designed to renew and revitalize the faith of participants.
"We are committing to a five-year project. We think stewardship is an ongoing project, not a one-time affair," Friesenhan said. "We are also hoping to repeat the 'Knowing God Better' series and do a second one, 'Parents: You, Your Children and Their Catholic Faith,' in the New Year. The idea is to get people excited about God and their faith as adults. Basically, we want to help people have a similar experience to what we have had ourselves. We want to share that with others."
All team members were originally part of the parish's RCIA team for many years. Friesenhan said it was an experience that helped their faith to grow by helping others to have a similar experience.
"Some people even came from other parishes," she said. "They were interested in seeing if they could offer Faith Cafe in their own parishes. One participant was involved in a prison ministry and decided the programs could be used with the prisoners if we would lend them the videos. We did and about 15 to 25 people now attend their sessions.
"We saw them being filled with joy at new insights and having the lights go on about things that they never thought of before."
Building Bridges is a ministry at OLPH that arose from meetings with parents to try and get them to understand their roles in educating their children about passing on the faith through the sacraments, says pastoral assistant Linda Batdorf.
"It simply started by forming three groups and probably half of the people were returning to the Church and the other half attended Church but were not understanding various aspects of their faith," Batdorf said. "For many of them, it was a way to come back to the Church."