Building a Stewardship Parish on Four Pillars
The Stewardship of Formation
As the steward grows in the life of prayer, God reveals Himself more intimately in this personal relationship. The steward also sees that the gifts received from God are to be shared and not buried. The steward remains deeply rooted in humility, recognizing that the gifts one has been given come not from self, but from God. Those gifts are to be shared with others. Here lies the heart of the steward’s personal response as a disciple – to share what one has received and to share with a generous, grateful and loving heart.
This formation of each individual becomes part of the formation of the parish community. As members of the Body of Christ, the parish recognizes that it has a call from God to give. Inherent within each individual is the need to give – to move from selfishness to selflessness. This formation is a life-long journey of conversion. The stewardship parish journeys constantly in this formation of conversion. As one grows more deeply in this formation to a life of stewardship, the more deeply one loves as God loves us. This is true for the individual steward and for the stewardship parish.
Such formation is a formidable task, involving education of the mind and conversion of the heart. To know the “stewardship way of life”, does not make one live a “stewardship way of life.” Formation includes quality education, but the knowledge itself is not enough. Ongoing Catholic education, (for children and adults), is important if we are to grow in our lives as stewards. This formation should include a proper knowledge and understanding of stewardship since it is a primary means to lead the faithful to holiness. Catholic schools, Parish Schools of Religion, youth ministry programs, adult education offerings and parish stewardship committees are wonderful and essential places where this faith formation begins. Yet, it is foolish to think that these are the only parish organizations responsible for this faith formation of parishioners to grow. Every parish organization has a role to play in nurturing the faith formation of the parishioners. It is in this collective parish effort and the grace of God at work through our sincere efforts that faith formation thrives. The meaning of faithful stewardship and how to live this way of life is at the core of the disciple’s response to the gift of faith we freely receive from our loving God.
Listed below are some of the ways you can grow through Stewardship of Formation at St. Luke’s. Contact the office for information on any of these groups:
Adult Faith Formation
St. Luke the Evangelist started their adult formation with a committee that helped to plan events for the parish. We are currently transitioning to a Council of Faith Formation.
Children’s Liturgy of the Word (CLOW)
Children ages 3-1st grade are dismissed during the Sunday liturgy before the first reading. We gather and listen to the gospel, have a discussion about the gospel, say our own prayer intentions, and make a craft or do an activity that centers on the teachings in the gospel. The children are welcomed back into Mass just in time to bring their offerings to Father Larry.
Christian Experience Weekend (CEW)
CEW is a lay movement that uses a structured process to provide spiritual enrichment and promote Christian community in relationship with God, self, and others. It is open to Christians of any denomination, although the OLIH retreat incorporates many Catholic traditions. Participants must be at least 18 years old. The Women’s CEW retreat is generally held in January at OLIH and the Men’s CEW retreat is generally held in February at OLIH.
Religious Education (RE)
For the 2014-2015 school year St. Luke’s RE program has 26 catechists, 7 volunteer helpers, 3 student helpers, and over 130 students. In addition to the regular curriculum, there are also multiple thematic lessons where all of the students study the same topic at their grade level. Some of the thematic lessons include All Saints’ Day, Advent, Christmas, the Liturgical Year, Mardi Gras, Lent, Easter, and Marian lessons. We have started the tradition of having an Epiphany Fair and having the students lead the rosary.
Religious Education Committee
St. Luke’s provides K-12 religious education on Wednesday nights. The committee meets quarterly (or as needed) to discuss curriculum options, catechist recruitment, supplies, goals, and special events. We are currently transitioning to a Council of Faith Formation.
Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA)
The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) at St. Luke's unfolds in conjunction with OLIH. Adults who would like to become Catholic, in particular those not yet baptized, begin the RCIA in September with a period of Inquiry. The candidates deal with questions and concerns that they have about being Catholic. The second stage of RCIA usually begins after Thanksgiving and is a time of catechesis or instruction. The third phase unfolds as preparation for Easter and lasts during the season of Lent. The celebration of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist is done at the Easter Vigil. Following Easter, a period of reflection on the mysteries celebrated is held called Mystogogia. Various rites for these periods of the RCIA are celebrated throughout the year for candidates from St. Luke's. Sponsors and RCIA team members are encouraged to help from St. Luke's.
Vacation Bible School (VBS)
VBS is offered for children entering Kindergarten through Grade 5. It is centered on a different biblical theme each year. Adult and student volunteers assist staff in carrying out the program. VBS is held at OLIH in June.
- Reflect how the pillar of prayer relates to the pillar of formation. Does this connection manifest itself within your parish?
- What ideas might you have to strengthen the building blocks listed above for deeper faith formation of your parishioners?
- Do the mission, vision, objectives and goals of your parish include enough emphasis upon faith formation of parishioners? If not, in what area(s) in the parish does greater faith formation need to occur?