July 29, 2005

Last-minute speaking role leads
to passion for stewardship

By Sean Gallagher

Nearly 10 years ago, Daniel Conway, then the archdiocesan Secretary for Planning, Communications and Development, was in a pinch.

A priest he had arranged to speak about stewardship before leaders in that field had backed out. He needed someone to replace him on short notice.

Conway, now president of RSI Catholic Services Group, a private company that provides stewardship education and fundraising services, asked his friend, Father Daniel Mahan, to fill in.

In the years that followed, according to Conway, Father Mahan, now pastor of St. Louis Parish in Batesville, has become an “outstanding leader in the stewardship movement.”

He currently serves as the director of formation for the summer and winter institutes and annual conferences of the International Catholic Stewardship Council ( ICSC), founded in 1962 by Cardinal Joseph Ritter, then the archbishop of St. Louis and former archbishop of Indianapolis.

Father Mahan now travels around the country and Canada about once a month, promoting stewardship as a way of life before parish and diocesan gatherings.

He also recently published a collection of his homilies on stewardship. More than Silver or Gold: Homilies of a Stewardship Priest is the second book published by Saint Catherine of Siena Press, a publishing company that he owns.

According to Father Mahan, the homilies collected in his book and his international ministry in promoting stewardship emerged out of his own experience in parish ministry.

In 1992, after becoming the administrator of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Franklin, Father Mahan soon discovered that the parish’s weekly collections were not meeting its expenses. There was also a need for more volunteers in the parish.

Father Mahan said that at the time he only saw stewardship as a “quick fix,” but his perspective soon changed.

He noticed the positive impact that promoting stewardship made on the faith life of many St. Rose of Lima parishioners.

“I changed my view on stewardship from simply something to be done when we needed to do it, when there was a problem, to seeing the value of emphasizing stewardship as a way of Christian living, as a way of discipleship,” Father Mahan said.

As he moved on from St. Rose of Lima Parish to St. Luke Parish in Indianapolis and eventually to St. Louis Parish in Batesville, Father Mahan has taken the message of stewardship with him and shared it with his parishioners.

Therese Hartley, a mother of five, is a member of St. Luke Parish who learned from Father Mahan that her own dedication to motherhood is a fundamental aspect of her life of stewardship.

“These children are my gift for now to teach,” she said. “They are all, in and of themselves, not mine. But for now, I am the steward for their care. And by attempting to be the best wife and mother that I can be, that, as well, is stewardship in the most basic and truly the most important way.”

Conway noted that an important aspect of Father Mahan’s promotion of stewardship is that at its heart it is eucharistic.

“He’s talking about placing all of our gifts on the altar in the context of worship and in the context of giving back to God what God has given to us in the first place,” Conway said. “I think it’s his spirituality and his focus on the Eucharist.”

Janet Hansen, a member of St. Louis Parish, has noticed this key to Father Mahan’s preaching on stewardship and appreciates it.

She said that on a regular basis in his homilies, Father Mahan will remind his listeners of the great gift that they will soon receive in Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist and that they should always be grateful for it.

Father Mahan will give a presentation on stewardship titled “Responding to God’s Invitation” at 7 p.m. on Aug. 1 at Our Lady of Fatima Retreat House in Indianapolis. This talk is geared for families with a message for both parents and teenagers.

Father Mahan’s book also includes the text and an audio compact disc of a presentation on stewardship. He said he hopes the readers of his new book will broaden their vision of stewardship.

“I would hope that people would have a deeper appreciation for stewardship, that stewardship relates not just to the part of ourselves that we give to the Lord, the part of our income that goes into the offertory or the part of our day that is spent at the service of the Lord,” he said, “but that it relates to everything that we have to give and everything that we are that the Lord gives us every minute of every day.”

(To order Father Mahan’s book, call 888-232-1492 or go to www.morethansilverorgold.com. To register for Father Mahan’s Aug. 1 presentation at Our Lady of Fatima Retreat House, call 317-545-7681.)


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