Is every parish in the Diocese of Wichita a stewardship parish?

What we’ve learned about Stewardship
By Fr. Ken Van Haverbeke
“We don’t do that stewardship thing here. That’s a Wichita thing.” Charlotte, a parishioner said to me.
Charlotte (not her real name) attended a parish many miles from the shadow of the Cathedral. In asking her what she meant, she said, “Well, we are a small rural parish. We don’t fill out all those forms every fall or have a stewardship council. That’s something parishes in the city of Wichita does.”
In one way, she was correct. Her parish does not participate fully in the stewardship renewal, nor does it always recognize the need for lay leadership in councils such as a stewardship council.
But, essentially, if parishioners in her parish are followers of Jesus Christ, then stewardship is not an option. Regardless of whether a parish puts up the diocesan stewardship posters or not, they are stewards of the gifts given to them by God.
The practice of stewardship begins at birth when all of us receive God’s greatest gift – life. We are to be stewards of that life and all the other God-given varied gifts we receive during that life until death. It is a life-long process.
In the Sacrament of Baptism we receive the “call to discipleship.” It is in the Sacrament of Confirmation where we are sent forth committed in action, as disciples, to share of our God-given giftedness in love and service to God and neighbor.
I believe Charlotte would agree with all of this. What Charlotte was referring to is a process in which the Diocese of Wichita uses to respond to the baptismal call to discipleship. The yearly renewal process of sharing one’s gifts generously, sacrificially, and proportionately, in a committed manner.
In the Diocese of Wichita we have learned that we need to be invited, encouraged, and challenged to recognize, receive, and accept our God-given giftedness and to, then, within a well-organized process, annually commit to the sharing of time, talent, and treasure, in service to the broad mission of the parish and that of the wider universal Church.
Do all of our parishes have a well-organized process to annually commit the sharing of time, talent, and treasure? Yes, pretty much each of the 90 parishes in the diocese does so in some fashion.
However, whenever a parishioner or pastor says “stewardship is not working in our parish!,” I ask about their annual process, their stewardship council, their lay leadership involvement in a pastoral, and finance council. Often these are overlooked or non-existent, and stewardship suffers. Finally I ask about their fundraising activities. Repetitively having fundraisers, and nickel and diming people for money is a certain way to hurt stewardship as being a way of life.
Stewardship is about discipleship and our call to a committed action. Regardless of whether a person fills out the stewardship forms, every baptized follower of Jesus is called to be a grateful steward.