by Lesle Knop
“As a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me” (Jn 15:4).
For the past 12 years, I have been fortunate enough to attend the International Catholic Stewardship Council’s annual conference, where I grow in my understanding of stewardship as I learn from the experiences, skills and proven successes of Catholic leaders from throughout the world. It’s one way I nurture my connection to the Vine.
Stewardship is a way of life, a practical form of spirituality. It is a response to the Lord’s call to discipleship. Christian stewards are grateful for all of God’s gifts, accountable for their development and use, generous in sharing with others, and willing to give back to God with increase.
In the pastoral letter on stewardship written several decades ago by our U.S. bishops, stewardship is described as a commitment that is expressed not in a single action, nor even a number of actions over a period of time, but in an entire way of life.
Jesus called us to “go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations.”
To help us fulfill the Lord’s call, our local shepherd, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, applies the principle of subsidiarity to describe the relationship between our parishes and the archdiocese. He works to provide solutions that impact the entire archdiocese and to coordinate efforts to respectfully support the work of our parishes to help identify problems at their source.
This past year, I have been working closely with the archbishop, our clergy and lay leaders to help develop a path toward solving a few serious, but achievable, goals in the next few years.
The archbishop recently announced to our presbyterate the goals of a major capital campaign for our local church —with 25 percent of every dollar raised coming back to parishes for local needs and opportunities. I am excited to be part of this historic campaign: “One Faith. One Family. One Future in Christ.”
I believe that God makes all things possible, beyond what most of us can even begin to imagine. When faced with obstacles and challenges, stewards turn to God first with hope and faith, putting their trust in the Holy Spirit, who provides the skills and talents to do the work we have been blessed to accomplish in life.
Jesus proposed as the distinctive sign of his disciples the law of love and gift of self for others through his grace. He is the vine; we are the branches.
My prayer for this campaign is that he will help us to open our hearts to a full appreciation of the abundance with which we have already been blessed.