By Christopher Luke
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – More than 700 parish, diocese and archdiocesan representatives explored the theme “Missionary Disciples: Stewards of the Gospel,” at the 56th annual International Catholic Stewardship Conference in Nashville, Oct. 28-31. Members of the Diocese of Jackson’s Stewardship and Development team were on hand to learn and to network with representatives from this diocese.
The International Catholic Stewardship Council (ICSC), which puts on the conference, is a professional organization recognized internationally as a source of educating, networking, and advancing the mission of stewardship in Catholic parishes.
The conference offers practical ways for parishes to understand and learn stewardship. Parish representatives get the opportunity to hear about successful strategies and tactics as well as tap into proven resources. Becoming a member of ICSC connects parishes to a network of churches who can explain their experience of living a life of stewardship.
Father Andrew Kemberling, Pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Denver, Colorado, reminded attendees at the start of the gathering, “you don’t know, what you don’t know.” Father Kemberling wanted those present to take advantage of each part of the conference. From the plenary addresses, the conference sessions, the strategic partners and exhibitors, and the opportunity to meet other individuals from other arch/dioceses throughout the conference.
In Session 33, “How Stewardship Helps Busy Families Evangelize,” Brian Niebrugge, Director of Stewardship and Annual Catholic Appeal for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, Missouri, said “Stewardship is the form that faith takes when being practiced. Becoming a steward changes the way you act, think, and how you react in everyday moments.” This conference helps individuals explore practical ways to help people recognize their talents, gown in gratitude for they are and will be, and live their lives fruitfully as good stewards.
“As a new school business manager, I found the conference informative and relatable,” said Jessica Skipper of Jackson St. Richard School. “I came out of the conference with the knowledge to make our next steps in a forward direction. It was reassuring to see that our school in cooperation with the diocese and our parish are hitting and exceeding national benchmarks,” she added.
The conference offered a staggering 40 sessions each day on topics from planned giving and how to empower young adult stewards to the benefits of bilingual communications and strategic planning. Attendees could select a track of related sessions that best applied to their particular position or community. Tracks included: Introduction to Christian Stewardship, Stewardship Beyond the Basics, the Evangelizing Parish, Parish Business Managers and Administrators, Wisdom for Parishes, Catholic School Advancement and Fundamental Themes in Diocesan Stewardship and Development.
The next International Catholic Stewardship conference will take place in Chicago October 6 – 9, 2019. For information on the next conference, go to the ICSC website at www.catholicstewardship.com. The Diocese of Jackson’s Office of Stewardship encourages parishes to attend this conference. Contact Christopher Luke in the office to learn more about how the diocese can support parish-level efforts. Luke can be reached by phone at (601)960-8481 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Christopher Luke is the coordinator for Stewardship for the Diocese of Jackson.)