Sioux City parishes unite for stewardship initiative this month
By RENEE WEBB,
Posted Oct.10, 2002
This month the pastors of the Sioux City parishes have joined forces to offer
a stewardship initiative called "The Lord's Harvest - A Time for
Jim Wharton, director of stewardship and planned giving for the Diocese of
Sioux City, pointed out that at this time, during the fall of the year when
people are thinking in terms of the harvest, the pastors want parishioners to
consider this a time to harvest gifts for the church.
"While pastors are very much interested in the financial harvest, just
as important are the talents of the parishioners and their time," he said.
"All of the priests in Sioux City are united in this effort to make October
Stewardship encompasses gifts of time, talent and treasure.
This is the second year for a citywide stewardship initiative.
"Last year we decided as the pastors of Sioux City that it would be
important for us to set aside a specific time of the year so that we could
proclaim it in all of the parishes at the same time," said Father Gary
Snyder, pastor at St. Joseph Church in Sioux City. "We found that to be
very successful last year."
Father Merlin Schrad, pastor at Blessed Sacrament in Sioux City, said that
such a stewardship program is good because it reminds parishioners of their call
to serve the church as a result of their baptism.
"So often in our view of supporting the church we zero in on the
financial aspect and we forget about the two other components - to give of our
time and talent," he said. "The time that they give can be something
that is very private and something that they can do at home. The same with
sharing their talents - they can do things on an individual or one to one
For instance, parishioners may wish to bring Communion to the sick, send
birthday cards to the homebound, pray for others or be a part of the prayer
chain. Even the homebound people can take part in some of these activities.
Father Snyder agreed that many people think specifically of financial
contributions when they hear the word stewardship.
"We are trying to broaden people's idea of what stewardship
entails," he said. "Particularly as we find ourselves as priests
broadening our ministry, it is important for people to take on responsibilities
that priests often had in the past."
Father Schrad said he liked the stewardship program because it reminds every
person that they have something to give.
"Sometimes in a larger city people don't know when or how they can give
their time or talents. By participating in and answering the forms that will
come to them in the mail it is a way that they can let us know they are willing
and want to be involved. We are not always aware that they want to do
that," he said.
The programs also serves as a reminder that everything people have is a gift
from God, so in return they should give of their time, talent and treasure in
thanksgiving. The pastor noted that fall is a great time to do a stewardship
programs as people can see the blessings of the harvest and prepare for
One of the main reasons for holding the unified city stewardship initiative,
Father Schrad noted, was that many Sioux City parishioners frequently attend
other parishes. This way, they were all given a similar message no matter what
service they attended.
In addition to spreading the same message at the same time, Wharton pointed
out that the united effort enabled the parishes to share resources and cut
"This is one of the first stewardship campaigns that we are doing
exclusively through diocesan offices. We are not hiring outside counsel to do
this, we are taking advantage of the experience we have with stewardship
programs and calling in everyone's talents to put it together," he said.
The Office of Development and Stewardship of the diocese this year is
coordinating the effort.
"Our role at the development office has been to develop the materials
and the strategy that the pastors need to put this into place in the
parishes," he added. "We have given them the materials, the schedule
and the resources we think they need to make this work."
All Sioux City parishioners have or should soon receive a mailing from their
pastor providing an overview and explanation of "The Lord's Harvest"
stewardship initiative. Initially, pastors will speak from the pulpit about
stewardship and the importance of parishioners becoming involved in the parish.
The following week, parishioners will receive a second mailing that will include
commitment forms. Parishioners will be asked to volunteer for various ministries
and committees as well as list their intended financial commitment to the
parish. As a followup, lay homilists will speak on the needs of the parish and
some of the available opportunities. As the stewardship initiative draws to a
close, parishioners will bring their forms to church on Commitment Weekend.
"This is a concerted effort in the city to get everybody thinking about
stewardship and giving of themselves," said Wharton.
He said now that the stewardship program has been created other parishes
and/or clusters in the diocese are welcome to use this as a model.