This past weekend we had our Stewardship Training — Ambassadors for Christ. We had 8 priests and Deacon Zane Pekron that were able to participate in the Friday workshop and 60 parish leaders that came from 19 parishes from across the Diocese and the Rapid City Catholic Schools for the Friday evening and Saturday workshop. One of the goals of the stewardship training was to help and encourage pastors and parish lay leaders to learn how to personally invite members from their parish community to the Stewardship Summit this coming September 21 and 22.
Tony Brandt and Chris Stewart, the presenters from Casting Nets Ministries, encouraged participants to consider their own circle of influence when inviting parishioners to the Stewardship Summit. This year’s Summit is an evangelistic event designed to help and foster an encounter with the living person of Jesus and the Holy Spirit in a new way in people’s lives. The Summit this year is being designed specifically for the parishioners who are at Mass on Sunday or at least several times a month, who aren’t necessarily involved in anything outside of Mass, and yet who are thirsting for more in a relationship with Christ.
How many of us are simply content in own relationship with Jesus? I raised this question last Saturday at the Ambassadors training and not one person raised their hand, including myself. Aren’t we all searching and thirsting for more Christ in our lives?
The desire for Bishop Gruss is that everyone in our diocese would be personally invited to the Stewardship Summit. However, with over 23,000 Catholics in our diocese it is almost impossible for Bishop Gruss to personally invite every Catholic in our diocese to the Summit. That is where we come in, to extend a personal invitation on behalf of Bishop Gruss for people to come to the Summit knowing that it is an invitation to open our hearts to encounter Christ who is alive and to come ready to be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit in a new way.
It was interesting last weekend, Tony Brandt asked how me how many people fit into the Holy Cross Chapel at Terra Sancta. I told him 525 is our maximum with folding chairs and with that said “Summit: Operation 525” was borne.
Our goal is to get 525 people to participate in this year’s Stewardship Summit for the parishes across the diocese. We need your help in reaching our goal of 525 to fill the Holy Cross Chapel to the full.
The only way I know this can happen is first by becoming a beggar in prayer before the Lord. And secondly is to personally invite those in our own circle of influences in our parishes to the Summit. I am encouraging and inviting you to pray a thousand Memorares with the intention of the Stewardship Summit — Operation 525. I have attached a card to help you to becoming a beggar before the Lord, asking our Lady to intercede for us in Operation 525.
If you are willing to participate in this and pray a thousand Memorares, please print out and fill in the boxes on the card below. When finished, please send this card to Shawna.
This past week I have been calling pastors and pastoral leaders about our upcoming Stewardship Leadership Training on Friday and Saturday, June 15 and 16 at Terra Sancta. I have been checking in with them to see if they were planning to come to the Stewardship Training themselves, and if they were planning to send any of their lay leaders, pastoral council members, stewardship committee members, and others who are influential in their parishes.
I have some had some good conversations about the upcoming stewardship training conducted by Tony Brandt and Chris Stewart from Castings Nets Ministry. Several conversations struck a chord with me because at the heart of stewardship is invitation. I heard several times: “The initial work has been done, the fliers are up in the parish and the announcement has been placed in the bulletin, however now the hard work begins of personal invitation to the training.” These words resonated with me as I thought to myself of the closing lines in Mark’s Gospel 12:28-34, commonly titled, “The Great Commandment.” “And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.”’ We are accustomed to putting flyers up and doing bulletin announcements, when we embrace the extra step of personal invitation, we are “not far from the kingdom of God.”
In speaking on Evangelism Pope Francis said, “Evangelism is not about programs, but people. We can have programs, but we need to evangelize one-on-one, accompanying and encountering each person.” Gretchen R. Crowe OSV Newsweekly would wager that most people can remember how and why one joined a parish ministry, participated in a service project, decided to keep a regular Holy Hour or attended a retreat for the first time — it is because someone asked them too.
Crowe goes on to say, “There is a power to inviting someone to participate. It means something to be singled out or even to be noticed among the throng of Mass-goers. This asking — this personal invitation — needs to happen more if the Church is going to succeed in its mission of evangelization.” And I would add stewardship to evangelization. If we truly desire to become parishioners and parishes who embrace Stewardship as A way of Life then personal invitation has to be part of our mission.
Inviting parishioners to attend this leadership training is a perfect opportunity to practice this one-on-one conversation that Pope Francis is speaking about, accompanying and encountering another person in Christ through invitation. And the training promises to better equip all those who attend to continue practicing this art of invitation and accompaniment. For parishes, it can both be a beginning and/or a further encouragement towards creating a culture of invitation in the parish.
My West River Catholic article this month focused on the Stewardship Leadership Training coming up in the middle of June. For more information on the Stewardship Leadership Training and the Summit this September please visit our website https://www.rapidcitydiocese.org/stewrdship or contact Shawna Hanson SHanson@diorc.org or Fr. Mark McCormick at 716-5214, ext. 233