Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
April 28, 2008
Live Out Loud, priest urges Calgary stewardship crowd
How do you live your faith outside the church building?
- Photo by Virginia Battiste
San Jose priest Fr. Brendan McGuire (right) sports a Flames Jersey at the stewardship conference held during the San Jose Sharks - Calgary Flames playoff series. Father Greg Coupalo (left) celebrated liturgies during the two-day event.
By VIRGINIA BATTISTE
Special to the WCR
To practise stewardship of their faith, Catholics need to be people, who in modern text messaging jargon, LOL, says Father Brendan McGuire.
That doesn't just mean to Laugh Out Loud, though he acknowledges showing joy is an essential component of faith. Rather, he says, it means to Live Out Loud.
McGuire, a parish priest and vicar general of the San Jose Diocese, spoke to nearly 300 participants attending the Living What We Pray stewardship conference at St. Michael the Archangel Church April 16-17.
McGuire says people outside should be able to see that Catholics believe in Jesus by the way they live that faith outside the church building.
There should be enough hard evidence available to convict a person of being a follower of Jesus Christ in a court of law - which in some times, and still in some places, would mean a sentence of death, he said. Would we pass the test?
The heart of stewardship, he adds, is Jesus Christ, which means it really centres on the Eucharist. Having lively worship that attracts and draws, then sends people forth to live their faith, and draws them back again the following week, is a never-ending rhythm.
Prayer and Scripture
Stewardship must be a way of life, adds McGuire. Prayer and Scripture need to be a daily part of each person's personal, private preparation for the celebration of the communal worship.
He reminded his listeners that prayer is a dialogue with God, not a monologue, so it must include listening and reflection to hear what the Lord is speaking about how to live life on a daily basis.
Another major component, in preparation to celebrate the Eucharist well, and part of being good stewards of faith, is reading Scripture.
To know Scripture is to know Jesus, but only hearing Scripture spoken for 10 minutes at Mass on Sunday morning does not allow it to get into one's heart, or affect how one lives. It must be read and reflected on at home, during the week, prior to coming to the liturgy, for it to take root in a person's life.
McGuire says the beginning point for establishing a stewardship parish is listening to parishioners.
In his parish, focus groups were formed and parishioners were asked four questions: what people liked about the parish, what wasn't going well, what people would love to do and what their real passion was.
He cautioned that if you ask people what needs to change, you need to be ready to act on what comes from the focus groups, not just talk and file the information away.
McGuire was direct in advising parish leaders about their role in bringing a parish into being a stewardship parish.
15 minutes a day
Leaders need to build the vision of stewardship as a way of life for all parishioners. They also need to encourage great liturgy, where people can come to truly offer thanks, promote warm hospitality and encourage all parishioners to be people of genuine prayer.
McGuire challenges his parishioners to commit to pray and reflect, initially for two minutes a day, and to build that up to 15 minutes.
He requires that leaders in his parish commit to pray for 30 minutes a day, minimum, or he accepts their resignations from their positions of leadership. If prayer is not the centre of stewardship, Jesus is not in his rightful place.
Asked about the major obstacle to becoming a stewardship parish, McGuire says, it is the "calcification" of attitude, whether that is of the priest or longtime parishioners. Their refrain is, "We've always done it this way."
Sponsored by the Office of Stewardship of the Diocese of Calgary, the event featured two liturgies presided over by Father Greg Coupal, a member of the diocesan stewardship committee.