We strive to preach and live the message of Gospel Stewardship, which invites followers of Jesus Christ to give intentional and proportional gifts of time, talent, and treasure in service to the parish community.
“Saint Jude is a Stewardship parish.” As a parish, we have repeated these words often, but do we really know what being a “Stewardship parish” means? How does this affect our church and school? How does this way of being enter into everything we do?
Because we have faith in God first, it allows us to give courageously while trusting in Him that our needs will be met. This is the way of life that we are called to as individuals and as a parish.
Please read the 2 articles below. In “A History of Stewardship at St. Jude Parish,” we are starting at the beginning and educating everyone on the path that St. Jude took in becoming a Stewardship parish and how that affected our outlook and way of life. In “A 20 Year Leap In Faith,” parishioner Kevin Hartman writes about his reaction as the president of the Athletic Committee when Father Bill suggested that the committee eliminate it’s fundraising.
In 1988, Rev William C. Schooler was assigned Pastor at St Jude Church. He was warned by the outgoing pastor, Rev John Pfister, that something needed to be done about the offertory income as it had become stagnant, even regressing somewhat. Fr Pfister’s warning took on an urgency when money had to be borrowed from the Diocese in January of 1989 to pay St Jude’s school teachers. We were not meeting our operating expenses. Something needed to be done.
The Finance Committee explored various options of fund raisers and happened upon a program called “Sacrificial Giving” by Msgr Joseph Champlin. This program intrigued them, especially because of the low cost of implementation. His program was built on four basic principles — giving back to God a portion of what God has given to us; making that gift a sacrifice; using the Biblical tithe of 10 percent as a guide for giving, with 5 percent to the church and the other 5 percent to other charities; and using the Sunday envelopes as a way of being more accountable. After being presented to Parish Pastoral Council, a subcommittee was appointed to study this program and they returned with a strong recommendation that Sacrificial Giving be introduced to St Jude Parish.
Both Parish Pastoral Council and the Finance Committee agreed that Champlin’s program would be the best. In April of 1989, Sacrificial Giving was formally introduced to the parish. Through the good offices of Barbara Scholtz, National Coordinator, trained presenters were sent to help us.
By the end of that first Fiscal Year, our offertory income had increased by 26.2 percent. In addition, the members of the School Board of Education increased tuition significantly. Our financial situation was beginning to improve. Even the skeptics had to acknowledge that this program was working.
During 1990, a Stewardship Committee, consisting of Gene & Jan Dustman, Paul & Jackie Ehinger, and Joyce Racine, was formed at St Jude and assumed the responsibility of promoting Stewardship/Sacrificial Giving, including the planning of the annual renewals.
Our second renewal was held on the weekend of April 13/14, 1991, and was presented by a St. Jude parishioner. Joyce Racine, a member of the Stewardship Committee, and a Diocesan presenter, spoke at all of the masses that weekend, sharing her story of coming to believe in Sacrificial Giving. Father Bill’s homily dealt with Sacrificial Giving the following weekend.
During 1992, additional parishioners were invited to join the Stewardship Committee with two accepting the invitation. The committee began working on how to introduce stewardship into the school and to the children in Religious Education classes. Another main focus was on how to get the parish itself to tithe. The Committee was successful in convincing Parish Pastoral Council to include tithing in the budget, although it was at a stated amount ($5,000) rather than a percentage of offertory income.
On the weekend of May 15/16, 1993, Jim and Nan Delaney, parishioners and members of the Stewardship Committee, gave their witness at all of the masses. Father Bill again spoke on Stewardship the following weekend. This was the first year that we combined Stewardship of Time and Talent with the annual renewal of Stewardship of Treasure.
The Committee had been trying for some time to get the annual renewals moved from the month of May. It was finally agreed to move the renewals to the two weekends prior to Ash Wednesday. The Parish Tithe was increased to $6,000.00. In November of 1994, three members of the Stewardship Committee, along with the Associate Pastor, Father Robert Van Kempen, attended the National Catholic Stewardship Conference in Boston.
The Stewardship Committee had been advocating for some time the ultimate goal of eliminating fund raisers. Realizing that this involved building confidence that the parishioners would support the parish through offertory income, we patiently persisted. The parish tithe was increased to $7,000.00 but still was not based on a percentage of the income.
In November 1995, Msgr. Joseph Champlin, invited by the Diocese, spoke about Sacrificial Giving to a large gathering of pastors and lay leaders at a meeting in Warsaw. St Jude was well represented at this meeting with the Pastor, all members of the Stewardship Committee and the Finance Committee, and a good representation from the Pastoral Council and the Board of Education in attendance. Msgr. Champlin’s presentation went a long way in helping convince a number of lay leaders of our parish about the merits of the Stewardship/Sacrificial Giving way of life. He challenged us to drop fund raisers arguing that people are less likely to respond generously in faith if they think they will be approached by the same parish asking for money to support a variety of projects.
Convinced now that Stewardship was the way, a big step in faith was taken when it was decided to eliminate the Tuition Assistance raffle and add $20,000.00 to the regular budget to provide the funds. In February of 1996, Father Bill addressed stewardship in his homily and announced the elimination of the raffle to the parish. In response, offertory income increased 5.6 percent that year.
Although the Parish Tithe was increased to $8,000.00, the Committee still felt that the parish should set a percentage aside, just as we ask parishioners to set aside a first portion to give away while trusting that God will provide for our needs. There was also further discussion about eliminating the two large fund raisers in the school as a step in faith.
In February of 1997, Father Bill announced in his Stewardship homily that we would be eliminating the magazine and candy sales by the school children. As a further step of faith, charges for sacraments would also be eliminated. Offertory income for fiscal year 1996/1997 increased 12.6 percent.
Offertory income continued to increase for the next few years.
Early in 2001, the Diocesan Office of Development prepared a manual for Stewardship and had regional meetings for parishes. St Jude hosted the Fort Wayne meeting and members of the Stewardship Committee helped with presentations at all the meetings.
In July 2001, Rev Thomas R. Shoemaker was appointed Pastor. Just prior to his departure, Father Bill approved the sale of Scrip as a way of helping school parents to lower their tuition.
By Kevin Hartman
As Catholics we are asked to have faith. Faith in God, Jesus rising from the dead, heaven and so on. Faith in these beliefs have always been part of my entire life. Although very complex, they are a core part of my being. About 20 years ago I was challenged to take a leap in faith in an area of Church teaching with which I not as comfortable or familiar.
Back in the 1990’s I was involved with the school’s Athletic Committee. We were a very active organization that oversaw the teams, coaches and the work with the CYO. Our purpose was to provide an extracurricular learning experience that sport competition provides. One key area of focus of this committee was raising funds that provided equipment and uniforms for the many teams we fielded each year.
If my memory serves me correctly we had approximately $10,000-$12,000 of expenses annually and paid these expenditures through any number of fund raising activates. These activities ranged from magazine sales to candy and ran continuously throughout the school year. We asked parents to coordinate and student to sell. We hounded aunts, uncles, friends and grandparents. We sent our children through our neighborhoods going door to door trying to persuade everyone and anyone to purchase something/ANYTHING to support our athletic program.
Then, one fall, Father Bill (Monsignor Schooler) approached the Athletic Committee and asked that we consider giving up fundraising and let the parish provide for the needs of our athletic program. I’m sure I looked at Father Bill like he was crazy since I knew firsthand what it cost to run our organization I fairly understood that the parish did not have piles of money sitting around to hand out.
Father Bill explained that he was looking toward St. Jude becoming a Stewardship Parish. One of the first steps was for our many ministries and organizations to take a leap in faith, and trust that God will provide for our needs. At first we were reluctant to kiss $12,000 of fundraising support goodbye without any true safety net to provide some level of comfort should this “experiment” goes awry. (This is how I personally viewed this new idea, as an experiment, instead of the way of life which it has become). But the idea of trusting in God in giving up the fundraisers that Athletic Committee sponsored, plus knowing that all ministries were being asked to do the same, won out.
That was 20 years ago and as a parish we have eliminated the fundraising and have focused our energy on building our faith. Over this same time St. Jude has fielded teams, won championships and learned valuable lessons that teamwork in sport provides. Our Athletic Committee still practices the principles of stewardship by trusting that God will provide and not relying on fundraising to keep our sons and daughters on the field of competition.