Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
April 19, 2010
Smith melds stewardship, evangelization
Pastoral priorities include faith formation, create a culture of vocations, evangelization
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON -- Stewardship - sharing of one's time, talent, and treasure - is now part of a bigger enterprise - evangelization, which is the first of three pastoral priorities in the Edmonton Archdiocese.
"The proper context for stewardship is evangelization," Archbishop Richard Smith announced at a conference on stewardship April 10. "It's within that first pastoral priority of evangelizing and embracing our call to announce the Gospel that we have situated stewardship. This is in fact the way that our pastoral offices are structured."
Accordingly, stewardship is now part of the office of Evangelization and Catechesis. Connie Lunde, associate director of new evangelization initiatives, is stewardship coordinator.
Some 80 people from places such as Edmonton, Mayerthorpe, Hinton and Calgary took part in the Stewardship and New Evangelization conference at St. Theresa Church. It was the first archdiocesan stewardship gathering since 2006.
Under Archbishop Thomas Collins, stewardship was a key priority. Since Smith's arrival in May 2007 "it seems we hear less and less about stewardship," the archbishop noted.
"But it's still a priority in the archdiocese," he said. Stewardship is just being situated in the context of evangelization.
The other two pastoral priorities of the archdiocese are faith formation and the creation of a culture of vocations.
Smith said the relationship between stewardship and evangelization is rooted in and unfolds from two questions that are given in the Acts of the Apostles, the story of Pentecost.
As the Holy Spirit descends upon them, the astounded disciples began to speak in tongues and said to one another, "What does this mean?"
Peter then gives one of his catechetical sermons, summarizing the life, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, giving scriptural proof that God in Jesus has revealed himself.
After Peter's catechesis, people said, "What must we do?"
"If we reflect constantly on those two questions we will grow in understanding and in living out the relationship between evangelization and stewardship," the archbishop said.
"By reflecting upon those two questions, stewardship leads us naturally into evangelization. But as we evangelize posing those questions, (it) leads us back to stewardship because, as we speak the Gospel and as we ask more and more deeply what does this mean, and as we become aware of what it means, then we say 'What must I do?'"
Smith said evangelization, the art of bringing the good news of Jesus into every human situation with the aim of transforming the world, is at the core of Catholic life. "We know the Church exists to evangelize and that we live with this conviction."
But to do that effectively, he said, we need a new evangelization that is new in its heart, in its zeal and in its expression.
A LANGUAGE OF BEAUTY
This evangelization needs a new language, Smith said. The traditional language of evangelization is no longer accessible to people.
This new language must be a language of beauty - "beauty attracts, beauty touches, beauty transforms," he continued. "(As Pope Benedict said), there is nothing more beautiful than knowing Jesus; there is nothing more beautiful than telling of our friendship with him.
"That's why we started our new evangelization picking up on this, that there is nothing more beautiful than our faith."
When the five-year Nothing More Beautiful process is over Smith plans to call upon the faithful to find those who have drifted away from practising the faith. "I want us to find them; I want us to invite them," he said.
Lunde, the stewardship coordinator, said stewardship is alive and well at the parish level, with parishes having active stewardship committees.
In an interview, she said now that stewardship is seen as "our response to the Gospel," it will have to be more integrated with all the ministries in the parish. "We see stewardship committees and pastoral councils working close together."
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