November 10, 2006


Gratitude is the soul of stewardship


November is sometimes called “gratitude month.” It’s the time of year when we celebrate the uniquely American feast of Thanksgiving.

It’s also the time of year when many parishes and dioceses throughout the country conduct annual stewardship renewals—inviting parishioners to once again make commitments of time, talent and treasure to the work of the Church.

The Church in central and southern Indiana is currently engaged in a capital campaign, Legacy for Our Mission: For Our Children and Our Future.

This campaign is a time of intense involvement and focus on our arch-diocese’s mission and priorities. It’s also a time of increased awareness of the many blessings that God has bestowed on us, his family of faith in 39 counties of southern and central Indiana, and of our need to say “thank you” for these abundant blessings. This November is a particularly good time to give thanks to God for his goodness to us.

What are some of the things we have to be grateful for?

• God’s gift of self in the Eucharist; his nearness to us in the sacraments and the liturgy; the communion we have with Christ and the entire family of faith in and through the Church.

• The prayerful pastoral care we receive from our archbishop; from our priests and pastoral leaders in parishes throughout the archdiocese; the witness of religious men and women who follow the paths to holiness charted by SS. Benedict, Francis, Ignatius and Theodora Guérin.

• The outstanding lay leadership in our archdiocese; the fidelity and generosity of our Catholic people; the gifts of fellowship and communion which we experience in our local parish communities.

• Excellent Catholic schools and religious education programs; opportunities to share our faith with adults, youth and children; dedicated professional women and men who make significant personal sacrifices in order to contribute their faith and wisdom to Catholic education.

• The work of Catholic Charities agencies in all regions of our archdiocese; the loving care that is provided to people from all walks of life who have physical, emotional and spiritual needs that cry out for Jesus’ healing presence manifested through us.

• The healing ministry of Jesus provided through Catholic health care; the skill and sensitivity of professional health care providers who care deeply about their patients and the needs of the whole person—body, mind and spirit.

• The freedom we have (and should never take for granted) to worship, to live our Christian faith and to participate in the daily life of the Church.

The spirituality of stewardship helps us to realize that the solution to our alienation, anxiety and unhappiness as human beings is to be grateful for what we have as opposed to feeling sorry for ourselves and coveting what our neighbor has.

Awareness of God’s abundant blessings changes our whole attitude toward life. The ability to say thank you brings healing and hope.

During the month of November (and throughout the Legacy for Our Mission campaign), let’s remember that the primary task of stewardship education is not to raise money (as important as that is for our mission). Our first priority is to help all of us recognize our gifts and blessings with a grateful heart so that we can cultivate them responsibly and share them generously with others.

The motto of Pope John Paul II, “Totus Tuus” (totally yours), is taken from the Marian prayer of St. Louis de Montfort. “I am totally yours, and all that I possess is yours. I accept you in all that is mine. Give me your heart, O Mary, a heart full of thanks.”

Gratitude is the soul of stewardship. During this new moment of grace that we have been given in our archdiocese, may we develop hearts full of thanks and, like Mary, share them unselfishly with everyone we meet.

— Dan Conway

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