The Fruits of Stewardship – WOW!

The Fruits of Stewardship – WOW!

If you are new to stewardship, you might never have heard some of the success of promoting stewardship as a Way of Life in the Diocese of Wichita. In 2017 and 2018, the Office of Stewardship hosted Tony Brandt and Chris Stewart of Casting Nets Ministries. Chris and Tony speak nationwide about stewardship, discipleship and evangelization. They live in the Diocese of Wichita and know first hand the fruits of stewardship: 

How do we compare?

Even when you take into consideration that Rapid City is a much smaller diocese than Wichita, one can still see the fruits of stewardship. They are 4 1/2 times our size, but their ordinations are 10 times ours, their number of seminarians almost 8 times. The number of Catholic school students is 12 times our numbers.

Wichita Rapid City
Number of Catholics 112,549 24,240
Number of active Diocesan Priests 81 25
Number of Seminarians 53 7
Number of priestly ordinations this year 10 1
Catholic elementary and high school students 9600 793
Percentage of parishes with perpetual adoration 42% 4%
Percentage of parishes with some adoration time 62% 35%

I have been present multiple times when Tony shares these fruits. It seems to me that jaws drop most when he talks about free tuition for Catholic schools. These are just some of the things that can happen in a Diocese that practices Stewardship. Wichita also can boast of a robust care for the elderly and the poor. But as Archbishop Murphy, one of the writers of the USCCB’s letter on Stewardship, often said, “stewardship is not a quick fix. It is not a program. It is a way of life.”

The Diocese of Wichita has been working hard to encourage this way of life for 50 years. The fruits don’t come quickly or easily. But they are possible. Wichita’s example can inspire us to embrace Stewardship.


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606 Cathedral Drive
Rapid City, SD 57701
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2101 City Springs Rd Ste 200
Rapid City, SD 57702
(605) 716-5214


2101 City Springs Rd, Ste 300
Rapid City , SD 57702
(605) 716-0925


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Barbara Scherr
(605) 209-3418

The Power of a Personal Invitation

It is true there is power in a personal invitation. Two weeks ago there were only nine people signed up from three parishes for the Hundredfold: A Guide to Parish Vocation Ministry workshop.  To say the least, I was nervous that this workshop was going to be a flat-out bomb.

Shawna Hanson, the Administrative Assistant for the Offices of Stewardship and Vocations laid a list of names and phone numbers on my desk for parish stewardship committee chairpersons and Spiritual Mothers. I got the hint! I started to call everyone on the list, as well as priests, and then even some of the different Knights of Columbus members in our diocese.  

When it was all said and done, we had 75 people who attended the Hundredfold workshop; 32 that went to St. John the Evangelist in Ft. Pierre and 43 that went Our Lady of the Black Hills Piedmont. They represented 26 parishes. It is true.  There is power in a personal invitation.

Calling all these people and personally inviting them to the Hundredfold workshop took a lot of time and energy. A blurb in the parishes’ bulletins, an ad in the West River Catholic, an invitation in my weekly musing or even a letter to every pastor simply cannot compete with a personal invitation!

Rhonda Gruenewald, a convert to the Catholic Church and the author of the book Hundredfold, did not even know what the word vocation meant four years ago. She and her husband were invited to attend a meeting at her parish St. Cecilia in Houston, Texas. Her parish priest, Fr. Victor Perez, personally called her and asked if she and her husband would attend a meeting about “priests and such”. She and her husband accepted the invitation and her life has never been the same.

It is true there is power in a personal invitation! Just ask Rhonda who is now the author of a published book, has appeared on EWTN and travels the country inspiring priests and laity alike to build parish vocation committees as a way to create a culture of vocations in our parishes.  All of this because she said yes to a personal invitation to come to a meeting about “priests and such.”

It is interesting to note, in his book “The Unchurched Next Door”, Thom Rainer says that only 2% of church people ever invite someone to church and eight out of ten unchurched men and women said they would come to church—if only someone would invite them. Rainer says: “it’s not clear what we’re afraid of: 82% of the unchurched are somewhat likely to go if someone would just ask them. It’s like a middle school dance. Everybody wants to dance, but nobody wants to ask.”

Fr. Mark’s Musings

Generous Hospitality Comes First

Several weeks ago, I heard this story about a young family who is desperately trying to get more involved in the life of their parish community in New Orleans. The story goes something like this, and as you read it, keep in mind the saying: three strikes and you’re out.

            The parish was advertising that they needed more adorers for perpetual adoration. She and her husband prayed to the Lord about answering this invitation. In the end, they felt like the Lord was inviting them to say yes. So they decided to accept the invitation from the pastor and were really quite excited to be spending time with the Lord in the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. When she called the parish secretary to sign up for an hour of adoration each week from 6:00 PM to 7 PM, the secretary found out that this young mother would be bringing her eight-month-old with her. The parish secretary said that would not be possible for her to sign up because they don’t allow young infants or toddlers during the hours of perpetual adoration because they do not want to disturb the silence of others praying in front of the Lord. Strike one.

            This really caught them off guard and they were quite hurt by it all, which made them even more hesitant to offer their help to the parish again. However, several months later another opportunity in the parish arose. They were looking for people to help clean the church. Again she and her husband prayed about it and felt the Lord was inviting them to say yes. So she called the parish again saying that she and her four-year-old boy would be willing to help clean the church. She told the parish secretary that my four-year-old loves to dust. The parish secretary said that she could not volunteer because the parish does not allow young children to clean the church even with parent’s supervision. Strike two.

                When I heard this story, I was shocked by such inhospitality.  The story of how Jesus related to the children in the Gospels came rushing to the forefront of my heart. People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them.  When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”  And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them (Mark 10:13-16)

            What do you think about the latest statistics: 6.5 people leave Catholicism for every 1 that joins, 50% of young people who are raised Catholic are no longer Catholic today, 79% of former Catholics leave the church before age of 23? I wonder if we are losing our people, especially our young people and young families, because of a lack of hospitality and an unwillingness to welcome all into our midst.

            Our diocesan stewardship initiative began first with generous hospitality. We need to get this piece right before we can begin to invite people into lively faith and dedicated discipleship.

Fr. Mark’s Musings