Story by Reagan Scott
HASTINGS (SNR) – While stewardship efforts have been made in Hastings through the years, last year, pastor Father Joseph Walsh of St. Cecilia Parish and then-pastor and Father Michael Houlihan of St. Michael Parish felt that it was time for a renewal.
While attending a conference in Wichita last year, Father Walsh found Catholic Stewardship Consultants Inc., a Christ-centered consulting firm that provides customized stewardship services to Catholic parishes.
The organization, which follows the model of Msgr. Thomas McGread, a renowned stewardship pioneer from Wichita, has helped parishes of all varieties, in dioceses from Massachusetts to Hawaii.
Upon arrival at a parish, the group helps to form a stewardship committee and create an annual timeline for renewal.
Father Walsh said hiring the consultants appealed to him because of their level of expertise, and the way that they approach stewardship.
“Stewardship is not about money, but a way of life,” Father Walsh said. “The great call of the Church is for us to be good disciples. We are trying to live a relationship with the Lord, not just following a set of rules.”
Father Walsh sees the path to discipleship as a practical spirituality.
“God has gifted us with all kinds of abilities and capacities,” he said. “You need to look at the gifts you’ve received and use those for the good of the Church.”
According to Father Walsh, cultivating practical spirituality begins with time.
He said, “You have to ask yourself, how am I using my time?”
Father Walsh noted that it is not just about spending time in prayer, but spending time in a meaningful way. It includes one-on-one time with one’s spouse, children, parents, grandparents and friends. Regarding prayer time, he suggested that it needs to be disciplined time in order to become a part of a person’s daily life.
Currently, St. Cecilia Parish is undergoing a renewal process in order to encourage parishioners to continue to develop their lives as Christian stewards.
The renewal process allows parishioners to commit to working on their prayer life, service to the Church, and financial support.
The parish provides descriptions of different ministries that they offer and now, with the help of Catholic Stewardship Consultants, are able to follow up with interested parishioners.
“Their most important tool is a database that enables us to follow up with people who have an interest in a specific ministry,” Father Walsh said.
When all the data from the parishioners is put in the database, an e-mail is generated and sent to the ministry leader.
“This enables us to be successful in following up with people. If a person makes a commitment and you don’t follow up, you lose a lot of good will,” Father Walsh said.
Catholic Stewardship Consultants also provides technical expertise in writing and designing materials that they print and distribute for the parish.
While St. Cecilia’s is still in the process of collecting data to determine the success of its renewal, one of the parishes’ most significant impacts has come from its implementation of perpetual Adoration three years ago.
“I think it has transformed our parish,” Father Walsh said. “We have all of our hours covered, but I think that the Lord wants everyone in front of him. If we get the Eucharist right, this parish is going to take off.”
As the parish continues its renewal of commitment, Father Walsh is hoping that people will be inspired to live their lives in an intentional way as disciples of the Lord.
“We want people to allow the Lord to change their lives,” Father Walsh said. “Stewardship is not a one-time event, it’s a way of life.”