This year’s stewardship conference had ‘enthusiasm’

By Jackie Arnold
The energy and enthusiasm of the attendees for the message of this year’s Stewardship Conference, “I Will Follow Him,” was striking.
The event held, April 21 at Church of the Magdalen in Wichita, began with Mass celebrated by Bishop Carl A. Kemme and ended with the opportunity to experience Christ’s love in Eucharistic adoration sponsored by Wichita Adore Ministries.
Keynote speaker Curtis Martin likened fruitful stewardship to the need to first kindle the flame by bringing others to encounter the living person of Christ. We cannot assume that others already have their faith kindled. When faith is kindled, the fire can be built up with generous giving of time, talent, and treasure.
He challenged the Diocese of Wichita to kindle – to fan into flame– to build up the incredible gifts we have been given for the good of the whole church.
Father Jarrod Lies, a priest of the Diocese of Wichita, also spoke and acknowledged that we are in a moment of rescuing the spirit of stewardship in our diocese. As a second generation steward, I can attest to the truth of this message.
We are in a time where the heart of stewardship, that encounter with the person of Christ from which our response flows, needs to be reinvigorated. Choosing to be a disciple brings about creative stewardship, but it all starts with that personal encounter with Christ in which a person chooses to say “yes” to Christ and then chooses that “yes” over and over again.
Disciples hear Jesus saying, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,” (Mt. 28:19) and know that Jesus is sending them personally to fulfill this mission in their parishes, families, friendships, workplaces, neighborhoods, and in the world. They will come to see that this isn’t the job just of priests and religious, but that by Baptism and Confirmation the laity are called to have an active role in disciple and steward-making.
The panel discussion gave concrete examples of how this can happen in relationships and on a parish level.
I came away from this conference reinvigorated by the message and the witness of the good stewards in our diocese. Pope Francis has spoken many times about the need to become a church that is mission-focused. I see great signs of hope for this in the Diocese of Wichita.
Arnold is a member of St. Patrick Parish in Kingman.