Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Congratulations to all of you who are stewards of our parish!  We have been recognized by the International Catholic Stewardship Conference (ICSC) for being the most outstanding parish in the United States and Canada for our commitment to Stewardship as a way of life.  Next Sunday September 16 in Chicago at the annual conference of ICSC, the Catholic Community of

St. Francis of Assisi will receive the 2012 Archbishop Thomas J. Murphy Parish Stewardship Award. This award is presented annually to the parish which best exemplifies a commitment to stewardship and demonstrates excellence in key areas.  Its purpose is to appreciate and acknowledge a parish that has embraced every aspect of stewardship and has shown evidence of spiritual growth and community outreach.

We were evaluated on many differing criteria including:

  • Effectiveness of the stewardship committee
  • Commitment to stewardship as a way of life and growth to reaching out beyond the borders of our parish
  • Stewardship education and formation
  • Annual Stewardship Renewal- inviting parishioners to share their gifts of time, talent, and treasure on an annual basis
  • Empowering and Engaging Stewardship Leaders to discern their gifts to be used collaboratively for the sake of the mission of the Church
  • Communication using various ways of connecting with parishioners
  • Welcome and Hospitality

“Creating a Culture of Stewardship” has been one of our strategic initiatives for the past several years under the very capable leadership  of Sue Mathys, our Coordinator of Stewardship.  The Murphy award is one way of recognizing the hard work of the stewardship committee.  I am grateful to  Sue and Ben Whitehouse, our Director of Operations and so many parishioners who have been working behind the scenes to allow the spirituality of stewardship to imbue all that we do and all that we are.  Thank you to the Stewardship Committee who has been faithfully leading us to create a culture of stewardship, inviting and even at times challenging each of us to be a Christian steward.  By definition, a Christian steward is one who receives God’s gifts gratefully, cultivates them responsibly, shares them lovingly and returns them with increase to the Lord.

We’ve come a long way, but    we still have a long way to go.   If you recall from the annual report published following the end of the fiscal year June 30, 2011, 55% of our parishioners are active stewards, 45% are “unengaged” with our faith   community, with 32% not involved at all (they’ve chosen  to register so we have their name and address, but there is no involvement of time, talent, and/or treasure).  Therefore, a second strategic initiative is focused on “engagement” and dovetails with “creating a culture of stewardship” as we strive to invite more of our parishioners to become stewards sharing the gifts and talents God has given them.  So it’s a moment to pause and give thanks for what has been and allow this award to re-energize us for the work still ahead.

In the peace of Christ,

Fr. Mark