Once one chooses to become a disciple of Jesus Christ,
stewardship is not an option
Just as God loved us by putting on flesh in the person of Jesus, so we love God by putting on Christ and loving others. Jesus makes the way of stewardship very clear. His self-emptying sacrifice on the cross was for our salvation. By working for justice, caring for those in needs and putting on abilities and resources at the service of others, we contribute to the mission of the church in continuing Jesus’ saving work in the world. We are co-redeemers with Christ and ourselves become stewards of the mystery of salvation. To be a disciple means to be like Christ and to continue Christ’s mission of the redemption of the world.
The 4 Principles of Stewardship
These are the four principles of stewardship.
- The 1st principle of stewardship is to receive God’s gifts with gratitude. Receiving engenders dependence on God. Gratitude acknowledges abundance.
- The 2nd principle of stewardship is to cultivate God’s gifts responsibly. Literally “steward” means “manager of the house.” God has entrusted His house to us. We are accountable to God for managing gifts given to us and we do so for the glory of God and in the service of humankind.
- The 3rd principle of stewardship is to share God’s gifts lovingly and in justice with others. The self-emptying sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is for us a model of sharing with love and in justice.
- The 4th principle of stewardship is to return God’s gifts with increase of the Lord. It is often the fear of losing what we have coupled with inertia the keeps us from giving. Yet, the Gospel urges us not to hoard or be content with the status quot. Faith in God’s love and abiding care gives us the confidence to give so that our gifts may bear fruit.
The Difference Stewardship Will Make
What difference will stewardship make in my life?
The world will never run out of needs. Trying to respond to the needs of the world on their own terms will leave the giver discouraged. Stewardship shifts the focus from the needs of others to our relationship with God. As we live out our baptismal commitment to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit united by love, we gradually grow in the life of discipleship so that our will and God’s will increasingly coincide and God becomes more deeply present to us that we are to ourselves (Deus caritas est, Benedict XVI). Stewardship changes your priorities so that self-abandonment becomes your will and God becomes your joy.
What difference will stewardship make in my parish?
Home is a place of love, safety, trust, and acceptance. It is also a place of responsibility, inter-dependance, teamwork, sacrifice, investment, and chores. Giving people a job to do, gives them a stake in the community. Parish stewardship is the difference between programs and people, the difference between planning and prayer, it’s the difference between fossilisation and evangelisation, and it's the difference between a place you visit and a place you belong.
What Can I Do?
There is no pre-fabricated program for stewardship. It requires a conversation of individual hearts and an ongoing transformation of a community. There are concrete stewardship practices. You and your parish are already doing many of these things to some degree. To increase the stewardship spirituality in your parish requires a conscious commitment to the process that rests upon a spiritual foundation, formation in prayer, the development of identify, and a build up of community through trust and accountability.
It takes a whole village to raise a child” is a Nigerian proverb that has become part of current parenting vocabulary. Faith-based communities come together to support their young families with older congregation members offering mentorship, advice, sometimes even childcare. In close-knit families, older members come alongside new parents with meals and other material supports, childcare, a listening ear and helpful gestures. What happens when a new mother does not have a village?
It is the hope of our diocese that Elizabeth House and its partner agencies would be that village. In 2015, seven new mothers became residents at Elizabeth House. This diocesan program supports at-risk youth who choose to carry their babies to term. All of these young women chose to parent their babies. Parenting a new baby is a daunting concept even for the most prepared new mother who have a supportive spouse and family. When that precious baby is born into a challenging situation, daunting does not even begin to cover it. However, Elizabeth House works with a group of partner agencies that bring expertise, support and education to our residents to ensure that their journey to independence is not made alone.
Catholic Family Services, Calgary Family Services, the Healthy Babies Network, The Alex, Women in Need Society (WINS) and the Calgary Food Bank, are just a few of the agencies networked with Elizabeth House. Last year, some residents participated in Motherhood Matters at Catholic Family Services. The Louise Dean Centre provided a supportive learning environment to residents continuing their high school education and made sure that Elizabeth House mothers were always invited to their Family Fun Nights. The Calgary Food Bank provided groceries for the program. Visitation and support at Elizabeth House from the Calgary Healthy Families Program (for interested residents) helps to reduce risk factors and increase the new family’s capacity for a safe and nurturing environment.
The staff and volunteers at Elizabeth House work to create a loving, supportive, home-like environment for their residents, knowing that these young moms will not be there forever. This is why it is vital that residents also have solid relationships outside of the home with community supports that will enable them to have continued personal and parenting success. These community partners work with Elizabeth House staff to build and create that critical village.
Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” [Matt 19:14]. These smallest of children and their mothers are dearly loved by our Lord. Creating these supports for them is another way we can express His love in a tangible way. To learn more about the village of support Elizabeth House is building, visit us on the Internet at www.elizabethhousecalgary.ca.
The first line in the final press release before February 20th's Coldest Night Of the Year event read "Calgary is definitely not getting the cold shoulder from donors this year despite tough economic times." How fitting that during the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy this diocesan hosted event supporting the poorest of the poor should receive so much generosity! In a city where people are losing their jobs, their homes and other possessions every day, Calgarians still gave generously. So much so that more than $127,000 was raised to benefit Acadia Place, Feed the Hungry and The Mustard Seed.
By the time registration closed, almost 600 walkers joined together at Eau Claire and then headed out to walk 2, 5 or 10 kilometers along the Bow River Pathway system. The weather was balmy; most 2 km walkers upped the ante to 5 km! Location Director Samantha Jones was moved to tears during the opening ceremonies. "We are so truly grateful to every single one of you!" she said to the crowd. Representing the Diocese through their participation in the event were St. Anthony's (second place team), Deacon Rob McLean with his company Bentall Kennedy, Ascension Parish, Holy Name Parish, the FCJ Centre, St. Bonaventure Parish, St. Patrick's Parish, St. Peter's Parish and the U of C Catholic Community. Many of the event's volunteers were also Catholic parishioners. They were joined by many other denominations, corporate teams, and staff, donors and volunteers from the other beneficiaries.
Pope Francis has asked us during this special Jubilee of Mercy to open our hearts and minds with love and mercy and to look for opportunities to bring healing to the wounds of those struggling. Almost 600 people spent the evening of February 20 doing just that. And it was beautiful!
Did you contribute to the October Mission Sunday collection? The following is a brief look at one church in need. The Eparchy (Diocese) of Keren, the second city in Eritrea in the north of Africa, has a pressing need of a new seminary.
Due to its geopolitical position on the Red Sea, Eritrea has had many invaders during its history, including Egyptians and Ottoman Turks. In recent history, Eritrea was colonized by Italy, was a British Protectorate after the second World War, followed by unjust annexation by Ethiopia. This resulted in a 30-year brutal and ferocious war, until finally independence was won in 1991. This war was costly for Eritrea: tens of thousands of lives were lost; villages were demolished; infrastructure was devastated; and the little development achieved was driven backwards. The quality of life was non existent, while malnutrition and starvation was widespread. Many survivors left the country in search of a life, and many drowned in the attempt.
The Catholic Eparchy of Keren stretches over a semi desert region of Eritrea. It has a population of about 450,000 of which about 12% are Catholic and 85% are Muslim. Despite its minority status in number, the Church is well respected, running social, pastoral, educational, medical, and humanitarian services.
Some Church History
Fr. Justin de Jocobis, ordained in Brindisi, Italy, was the founder of modern Eritrean Catholicism. He visited the area in 1844 and found it completely abandoned by clergy. In 1831 missionaries walked through Keren during a 50-day excursion and saw churches that were still frequented by people, even without an officiating priest.
In 1867, the main task of the missionaries was the establishment of the seminary. The buildings which were completed in 1873 and continue to operate today. Entire villages were becoming Catholic and the seminary was able to offer education to priests for service to the new parishes.
In 1924, an apostolic visitor was commissioned by Pope Pius XI who reported back to Rome the need for a local hierarchy. Today we have the Catholic Eparchy (diocese) of Keren, established in 1995 with its first Eparch (bishop) His Excellency Abune Tesmairam Bedho. After his passing he was succeeded by His Excellency Abune Kidane Yebio as the second and present Eparch.
The fruits of many years of prayer, sacrifice, hard work, struggle and evangelization, have lead to the well established seminary and church. As of 2015 the Eparchy of Keren has 74 priests; 93 seminarians; 68 catechists; runs 43 parishes; 53 chapels; 18 elementary schools; five middle schools; one high school; one agricultural college; two orphanages; seven women’s promotion centres; two health centres; five health stations; eight kindergartens; and six child care centres. The seminary in Keren has been the cradle for vocations from its inception to the present time. Until recently all diocesan priests and bishops of the Geez rite have had their formation in the seminary of Keren. The seminary continues to operate under very difficult conditions. In spite of a lack of resources, miserable, and bleak conditions—as during the liberation war—it has continued to bear fruit. Vocations are still plentiful and ordination of priests is a regular occurrence even though they take place outdoors in shabby half covered tents because of lack of a cathedral. The cathedral is being built now.
The majority of the people in the Catholic Diocese of Keren live in small villages as subsistence farmers and pastoralists. Living conditions and development are poor, and modern amenities are non existent, even in the larger villages. Hence building a seminary with the peoples’ resources is unthinkable. This is why the Keren Church humbly extends her hand to her brothers and sisters in Christ to help build a much needed new seminary. As we well know, continuity of our faith depends on educating tomorrow’s priests. This is a primary concern for every bishop. Some struggle with lack of vocations; and others, like Keren, have many called to religious vocations, but lack the appropriate resources to educate them.
The estimated cost of the new seminary is $4,000,000 (four million) US dollars. Perhaps the Propagation of the Faith from Mission Sunday collections can help; but this is not an isolated need in today’s world. Perhaps the dioceses in the USA can help, and maybe we can help. Small donations add up. Drops of water can fill a bucket. Bishop Henry has spearheaded some drops in the bucket. God bless you all. If you are touched by this story and are able to help, donations can be made to the seminary via Mission Council, Calgary Diocese, 120 - 17th Avenue SW, Calgary, AB T2S 2T2.
There are many ways to support the work you believe in. The Diocese gratefully accepts gifts from individuals, corporations, service clubs and other organizationss.
"Your smallest acts of love and kindness may quite well be the ones which change the world."
~Pope John Paul II
Making a Donation Via Cash, Cheque, or Online
Drop by the office, mail in a cheque or donate online to have the most immediate impact on the programs and services of the Diocese. Cheques should be payable to whichever program you are supporting or "Roman Catholic Diocese of Calgary" with the program in the memo line. Please note that receipts are issued to the name(s) on the cheques or credit cards.
Supporting us with a gift of Securities
Gifting of stocks, bonds or mutual funds to the Diocese is another meaningful way to support our programs. Simply complete this form (or click below) and send it on to your broker. They will then forward it on to the Diocese’s broker to complete the transaction. A tax receipt is issued for the value of the stocks at closing on the day received. The Diocese is also able to process these types of transactions on behalf of your parish.
Providing support on a Monthly Basis
Through our monthly giving program, you can pledge your support on a monthly basis while balancing your pocketbook. Think you can't afford a large gift? Spread it out over the year to make it more manageable! We are able to charge your credit card monthly and receipts are issued annually. This type of support allows us to budget more effectively and provides security for our programs. Donate monthly here.
Letting your loved ones know you care through a Celebration Gift
Celebrating a special day or a special person? Make a donation to the Diocese in memory of a loved one or in honour of a loved one's special day. Let us know who to send a note to so we can celebrate your generosity.
Look to the Future with a Planned Gift
Planned gifts include bequests, gifts of insurance and other types of property. Please click here or contact us for more information regarding this innovative way to give now and in the future.
Take advantage of your organization's Matching Gifts Program
Many employers will match your gift. Speak to yours today to find out what their policy is!
The Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Calgary is registered as a legal charity under its 1913 legislative act of incorporation and also federally with the Canada Revenue Agency. Charitable BN: 10790-9939-RR0076.