ICSC Greeting and Welcome

Archbishop Thomas J Murphy Memorial Parish Stewardship Award

1. Effectiveness of the Stewardship Committee-"We are called to powerful work. Jesus' questions to Peter about love are followed by these commands: feed my lambs, feed my sheep. Let us never forget that authentic power is service." --Pope Francis

a. The parish has an active stewardship committee that nurtures a year-round stewardship education effort.  Year round stewardship education effort is nurtured by hosting a yearly stewardship fair, which is currently held at the Parish Festival, dedicating one weekend per year to each of the four pillars of stewardship, i.e. Formation Sunday, promoting and attending international, regional and diocesan conferences and workshops, and incorporating lectio divina, Liturgy of the Hours, and forms of sustained prayer into our monthly meetings.

b. The pastor has an active role on the stewardship committee.  It is through the leadership of our pastor that Blessed Sacrament has embraced the New Evangelization, which has revitalized the stewardship way of life at our parish.  He attends the monthly meetings of the Stewardship Council, attends the ICSC conference with council members and recruits new members for the council when needed.  Father Jirak is especially dedicated to deepening the personal formation and prayer life of the members of the stewardship council.

c. Parish mission statement incorporates a stewardship vision from the Pastoral Letter on Stewardship.  Our mission statement highlights our desire to be disciples of Christ and to serve others as Christ did. It calls us to a life of teaching, witness, and community. We strive to achieve “Excellence in Evangelization, Eucharist & Education.”

d. The parish stewardship committee has a detailed annual plan with responsibilities on an on-going basis that is formulated with the collaboration and buy-in of other major parish councils.  We have developed a yearly pdf Stewardship Calendar (219 KB) that easily transitions from one year to the next.  It captures the major tasks of the Stewardship Council in a concise and functional document while allowing for the details to be executed by the creative and passionate minds of the current council members. There is intentional crossover between the membership of the Stewardship Council and other major councils in the parish so as to facilitate communication and collaboration toward the same long-term goals.  For example, the chair of the Stewardship Council serves on the Pastoral Council. 

e. Parish produces an annual report that reflects Stewardship throughout every area of parish life.  Attached are examples of the pdf annual report (7.96 MB).  We also have included a report that was created in conjunction with " pdf Our Challenge (778 KB)". During Our Challenge we are raising funds to provide major infrastructure repairs to the church and school buildings, replace the aging school playground, and replenish the Reserve and Replacement account. Additionally during Our Challenge, Fr. Jirak is challenging us to take our prayer life to a deeper level and to discern a fuller response in our gifts of time and talent.

 

2.Commitment and Growth over 5 Years - "The promotion of the practice of stewardship is important for the mission of the Church, and for spiritual well-being of each individual Christian. Everyone benefits from the sacrificial gift one makes of his time, talent, and treasure." --Pope Benedict XVI

a. Pastor or parish administrator shows leadership and commitment to Stewardship as a way of life.  Blessed Sacrament Parish and its former pastors have been dedicated to stewardship since the beginning of the parish in 1927. Since 2010, under the direction of Fr. John Jirak, our parish has developed a renewed vigor for living the stewardship way of life. In his homilies and at parish gatherings both large and small, Fr. Jirak constantly calls our attention to the connection between stewardship and the New Evangelization. It is through our personal encounter with the Lord and the resulting desire to be in relationship with Him that the Holy Spirit fuels our fervor to be generous stewards in our daily lives. Fr. Jirak shows leadership in stewardship by attending the monthly Stewardship Council meetings, completing his own stewardship commitment forms, as well as using personal stories of family, farm and fun to inspire and challenge his parish flock.

b. The parish shows signs of a long-term commitment to Stewardship.  The Church of the Blessed Sacrament along with the Diocese of Wichita made a long-term commitment to stewardship in 1985 by converting the Catholic education system from tuition-based admission to stewardship-based sponsorship. Soon after the Diocese made this change, Blessed Sacrament Pastoral Council began the practice of an annual stewardship renewal which included a stewardship fair, lay witness speakers, annual parish resource directory, and stewardship forms.  Blessed Sacrament formed a Stewardship Committee in 1997, which was elevated to a parish council in 2009 and has been increasingly active since that time. In February of 2012, the parish once again solidified its commitment to stewardship by hiring a Stewardship Coordinator. Due to our steadfast belief that the New Evangelization is absolutely critical to the enduring success of stewardship, a New Evangelization Coordinator was incorporated into the parish staff in 2013.

c. The parish shows signs of spiritual growth.  Over the last few years Blessed Sacrament has embraced the New Evangelization and the ardor of the Holy Spirit has truly ignited our parish.

  • Perpetual Adoration: In 1983 the parish of Blessed Sacrament dedicated itself to Eucharistic adoration by starting the first perpetual adoration chapel in the Diocese of Wichita. We currently have 324 committed adorers of which 19 new adorers were added in 2011, 46 new adorers in 2012, 31 new adorers in 2013 and 28 new adorers in 2014.  In addition to the adorers who have a weekly committed hour, the chapel has many drop-in visitors.  Sometimes it is so crowded it is difficult to find a seat.
  • Sacrament of Reconciliation: There has been an increase from 5 to 8 priests at each of the three penance services held during the year and 2 priests hear voluntary confessions of school age youth for 3+ hours one day a month.
  • Dead Theologians Society (DTS): In the fall of 2012, DTS began with 8 high school students and now has a core of 20 attendees.
  • A Liturgy Coordinator was added to the staff in 2014. 
  • In 2013, to enrich and better form our new Church members, a Mystagogy program was begun.  It was further enhanced in 2015 when mentors were given to each new member in the program.
  • Scripture Study: Before school begins on Thursday mornings approximately thirty 7th and 8th graders attend lectio divina and study the upcoming Sunday scriptures.
  • Spiritual Literature: Each year the parish purchases and gives as a gift 2,800 books to the attendees of Christmas and Easter Mass. In the weeks following, book study groups are formed to study the text and grow in faith together. Since we began the Book Study Program almost 1,200 parishioners and non-parishioners, who are both Catholic and non-Catholic have participated together in the book study groups. In response to requests we added two more Lighthouse Catholic Media stands.
  • Vocations Traveling Statue: Families can sign up to take the traveling statue to their home for a week, to pray for an increase in vocations.  This statue is transferred every week to a new home so there is constant prayer coverage for vocations.
  • In response to the desire of the faithful for more personal relationship with our Lord, ChristLife is being initiated in the Fall of 2015.
  • While Familia has been an active ministry for many years at Blessed Sacrament, in 2014, Men's Familia was added as prayer and formation opportunity for the men of the parish.
  • Mass Captains: In addition to regular ongoing liturgical training and service, the Mass captains meet on a regular basis for opportunities to work together on service projects and to experience virtuous leisure and fraternity through which they learn to be Catholic gentlemen and leaders.

d. The parish has grown in the area of community outreach and has made outreach a major priority.  Blessed Sacrament has a long history of community outreach and in the last few years, community outreach has become a major priority and passion.

Lord’s Diner: One Sunday each month approximately 45 Blessed Sacrament parishioners prepare and serve dinner to approximately 425 people. This outreach has been active for many years and in the last four years 200 new stewards have signed up for this ministry.

pdf Youth Mission Trips (134 KB): During spring break in 2011, 19 high school students participated in a youth mission trip where they worked at food banks, spruced up inner city churches, and performed street ministry to the homeless. The following year 40 students went on the trip and it has continued ever since. In 2015, the youth went to St. Joseph's Mission in San Fidel, New Mexico, the poorest parish in the country.  They took supplies to help work on the church and the school and committed not only to return on subsequent trips but also to adopt this parish and support them throughout the year.

Oktoberfest Run for the Poor: Each year on the first Saturday of October in conjunction with our Men’s Club's Oktoberfest a 5k and youth fun run are held at Blessed Sacrament to raise money for various community outreach organizations that are chosen by the Pastor.  Last year there were over 600 runners, more than 100 volunteers and over $6,000 raised.

St. Vincent de Paul Society is the most significant community outreach ministry at Blessed Sacrament. It has grown progressively over the last few years and its members’ passion is contagious. Here are a few of the numerous outreach activities:

  • Completed 97 home visits and provided over $37,000 in assistance in 2014
  • Provided volunteers for Meals on Wheels
  • Prepared and distributed sack lunches at a homeless shelter and on the streets in downtown Wichita
  • Coordinated a food drive for God’s Food Pantry which is a ministry of a neighboring parish, Holy Savior
  • Started a backpack program that delivered 1,300 bags of food to students who needed additional food for the weekend
  • Coordinated a program that gives other parishioners the opportunity to prepare and serve a hot breakfast at a local family shelter, St. Anthony Family Shelter.
  • Visited elderly at the Catholic Care Center
  • Organized gift baskets for the Sisters of St. Joseph, retired priests, and elderly members of our parish
  • Planned a blanket drive, diaper drive, winter coat drive, and toiletries drive
  • Shopped for and delivered meals to families for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter benefiting 50 families
  • Provided emergency support to specific clients in the local school district’s homeless student program
  • Coordinated a spiritual retreat for its members, hosted by Father Jirak and attended by 40 members
  • Organized, created, and distributed Mother's Day gift bags for women in homeless shelters
  • Teamed up with Dear Neighbor Ministries to perform neighborhood clean up

The Men’s Club monetarily supports StepStone, Kairos Prison Ministry, Midwest Catholic Family Conference, and the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. One aspect of the Women's Altar Society fund-raiser is to create an art piece with the residents of the St. Anthony Family Shelter; it is auctioned and all the proceeds go directly to the shelter. Our parishioners support pro-life activities with Kansans for Life and the diocesan Respect Life office through Fill the Crib and Baby Bottle campaigns.  Altar Society also supports pro-life organizations by hosting a Baby Jesus Shower each December to benefit local crisis pregnancy centers.  Blessed Sacrament hosted a Final Friday Art event, featuring artists of the parish, at Interfaith Ministries.  Many parishioners also serve the homeless through Warming Souls winter overflow shelter, an effort sponsored by Inter-faith Ministries.

e. The parish offertory has increased.  The parishioners of Blessed Sacrament are generous in their gifts of treasure.  We have seen a steady increase in dollars contributed to support the mission, ministries, and physical aspects of the parish.  From 2010 to 2014 the gifts of treasure have increased more than 26%.  We are blessed that our parish offertory remained stable while our parishioners also generously gave nearly 1.9 million dollars to the Diocesan Together Campaign.

f. Number of ministries and volunteers has grown.  Since 2010 we have added 19 new ministries to meet the spiritual, social, and physical needs of the members of our parish and our community. We have added Knights of Columbus Council #15134, Military Ministry, Mystagogy, Compassionate Care Ministry, Bereavement Ministry, Little Flowers Girls Club, Familia for Men, Parish Book Program, People to People Ministry, Playgroup, Social Media, Meal Ministry for those in Need, and Junior St. Vincent de Paul (affectionately nicknamed Mini Vinnies). Additionally the following ministries have formed since 2010: 18-22 Group for young parishioners who are away at college, serving in the military, or in the workforce; Cana Couples to promote healthy and happy marriages for those married less than 15 years and Vintage Cana Couples for those married over 15 years; St. Gianna Guild for healthcare professionals and students to incorporate faith into their work; Encore to promote fellowship among parishioners 60 years of age and older; Financial Peace University to help parishioners manage their gift of treasure more effectively; and New Evangelization Task Force, to promote and encourage a personal and parish wide commitment to the New Evangelization.

The existing ministries have shown tremendous growth:

  • St. Vincent de Paul - began with 9 members and 1 associate, now they have 35 members and 8 associates with over 100 contributing members.
  • Catechesis of the Good Shepherd: from 1 trained catechist to 5
  • Altar Society - previously had 15 attendees at monthly meetings now 60 women attend on a regular basis
  • Men's Club - increased from 50 to more than 75 attendees at monthly meetings
  • Familia - 8 participants in 2010 to 22
  • Respect Life Committee - from 40 adults a few years ago to 78 adults and 20 teens
  • Choir (adult and youth) - from 35 members to 67 members

g. Parish leadership attends regional, diocesan and/or ICSC offered Stewardship conferences, workshops, institutes, webinars, etc.  Ongoing education and formation is essential to creating and maintaining a vibrant parish. In January 2015, Blessed Sacrament hired a part-time Faith Formation Coordinator, to provide a more robust faith formation program for adults.  Each year Father Jirak and the New Evangelization Council host an annual leadership retreat for over 100 ministry leaders. The parish supports and encourages members of the parish councils to attend diocesan, regional and international conferences. 2012: 17 parishioners attended the Diocesan Stewardship Conference, 5 attended the ICSC in Chicago, and 3 attended the Parish Leadership Institute 2013: 6 parishioners attended the Regional Stewardship Conference in Kansas City, 8 attended the ICSC Conference in Dallas, 3 attended the New Evangelization Symposium at Benedictine College in Atchison, KS and 19 attended the Parish Leadership Institute 2014: 16 parishioners attended the Diocesan Stewardship Conference, 5 attended the ICSC in Orlando, 4 attended the Amazing Parish Conference in Denver, 6 attended the New Evangelization Symposium, and 8 attended the Parish Leadership Institute.

 

3. Stewardship Education - "The amount of time, talent and treasure we decide to share with others usually corresponds to how well we understand and accept that all we are, have and can do is an undeserved gift from God." --Michael Jackels, Archbishop of Dubuque (former Bishop of Catholic Diocese of Wichita)

a. Describe how the parish weaves stewardship education throughout the following demographic groups.  What are the elements of Stewardship education in each area below?

1) Children: Our parish provides a Catholic education to approximately 570 students in grades Kindergarten through 12th and operates a 3 and 4 year old preschool for approximately 50 students.  Kindergarten through 8th grades are taught in the school that is adjacent to the church and 9th through 12th graders are sponsored at one of the diocesan Catholic high schools. We dedicate 80% of our yearly budget to education with the knowledge and intent that our Catholic schools are forming our students to be servants to the world and these young people are the stewards of the future. We use lesson plans on stewardship provided by the diocese in our school and in the Parish School of Religion (PSR) and the K-8 teachers are provided with monthly stewardship formation by the Stewardship Coordinator. While the children are preparing for service projects, the teachers and volunteers connect the project to the use and sharing of God's gifts. A visual reminder, a poster promoting stewardship, hangs in each classroom, the entry of the school, in the library and in the cafeteria. Additionally, Fr. Jirak meets with each 8th grade student during the interview process to receive sponsorship at our diocesan Catholic high school, which gives him the opportunity to tailor education and formation for each student in evangelization and the stewardship way of life.

2) Youth & Teens: Stewardship education continues through a monthly breakfast at the high school with Fr. Jirak where the 4 Pillars of Stewardship are often the basis for questions with cash prizes. Annually the Catholic high schools host a service fair where community organizations and parishes present the various opportunities for service. Preparation for the Sacrament of Confirmation is also a time when teens are taught about stewardship opportunities and commit to acts of service. Each year the Catholic high schools host a Pastor’s Day and on another occasion, the pastor meets with each Blessed Sacrament student to talk about deepening his or her relationship with Christ and living stewardship.

3) Young Adults: Graduating high school seniors write pdf letters of gratitude (181 KB) and appreciation to the parish for the opportunity to receive a Catholic education. These letters are printed in the bulletin and featured on the parish website and Facebook page. The 18-22 Group connects with parishioners who are away from home at college by sending prayers and care packages and asks for prayers for the parish in return.

4) Adults: We host annual meetings for all parents with children entering kindergarten and for parents with a child entering high school that has a portion dedicated to the history of stewardship and living stewardship in our daily lives. A dinner is held for families whose youngest child is graduating from high school, to thank and encourage them in the perpetuation of the stewardship way of life.  Fr. Jirak hosts and invites leaders to attend conferences and workshops and annually our parish has a three day pdf Parish Mission (393 KB) and several one evening opportunities for spiritual growth and learning from recognized authors and speakers. The RCIA program also weaves the theme of stewardship through its learning and discernment process for those adults preparing to enter the Church.  When a couple asks to be married at Blessed Sacrament, they receive one on one stewardship formation with our Stewardship Coordinator prior to meeting with a priest for marriage preparations.

5) Seniors: In addition to the other adult formation opportunities, a new ministry named Encore was launched in 2013 to provide formation and fellowship to parishioners who are 65 and older. They gather following Mass on Friday mornings for breakfast and plan a quarterly event. The group has planned a trip to Pilsen, Kansas, home of Father Emil Kapaun for September of 2015.  The Encore team is in the process of providing the seniors with various needs in their homes and yards, as well as, preparing a mechanism through which the seniors can share their varied talents and skills. Another effort includes connecting the seniors of the parish with our diocesan ministry, Harvest House.

6) Various Parish Cultures: Our parish membership is limited in ethnic diversity so there is not a need to provide different or additional educational resources to accommodate various cultures.  However, stewardship materials are always on hand in both Spanish and Vietnamese.

7) Overall: The love of Christ and living out stewardship is our primary focus. We use the 4 pillars of stewardship - Hospitality, Prayer, Formation, and Service - to organize our bulletin and parish resource directory, the pillars are incorporated into the ceiling of one of our gathering spaces and stewardship posters are displayed throughout our campus. Fr. Jirak writes about stewardship in his pastor’s column and reinforces stewardship as a way of life while preaching and teaching us about scripture continuously throughout the year.

 

4. Annual Stewardship Renewal- "The annual stewardship renewal invites us to examine how much time we give to God; to reevaluate and reprioritize; to appreciate our lives as gifts from the Lord.  When people put their commitment in writing, we are more apt to follow through on our commitments." --Monsignor Thomas McGread

a. Parish conducts an annual stewardship/commitment renewal.  The annual stewardship renewal begins in June with a stewardship fair that is held in conjunction with our parish feast day, Feast of Corpus Christi, and our Parish Festival. In October we have four weekends of lay witness talks that culminate in the reception of the annual stewardship packet by mail. The forms are collected on a weekend in mid-November and brought up to the altar with the offertory gifts during Mass. Forms can be completed online, mailed, or dropped off at the parish office.

b. Samples of parish-created materials.  See Samples here: pdf 2011-2012 Stewardship Packet (1.11 MB), pdf 2012-2013 Stewardship Packet (3.23 MB), pdf 2013-2014 Stewardship Packet, (1.49 MB)  pdf 2014-2015 Stewardship Packet (727 KB). The stewardship packet contains the Time & Talent forms, the Pledge of Tithe form, pastor's letter, prayer card, and the pdf Parish Resource Directory (6.14 MB).

c. Review process for distributing and receiving pledge cards.  Pledge cards are included with the other materials that are mailed out in late October and are collected with the Time and Talent forms.

d. Use of lay witness testimony.  There are three to four weekends of lay witness talks in October/November. Each weekend focuses on a different aspect of stewardship and recounts for the parish family an individual experience of embracing Christ and living the stewardship way of life.

e. Review follow-up strategy including acknowledgements, bulletin or website updates, mid-year communication.  In January, a letter is written to each parishioner who returned stewardship forms committing time, talent and treasure. This letter thanks them for their yearly commitment and lists each ministry in which they indicated interest. In addition, it encourages them to take initiative and make contact with the ministry leader or to seek out other ways they can use their gifts in the service to the Lord. Each ministry leader is given a list of parishioners who checked their ministry. The leaders are given directions on contacting the stewards, thanking them for their interest, and inviting them to participate in specific tasks and activities. Bulletin and website announcements, email communications, Facebook and Twitter posts, as well as individual meetings are all utilized in the area of follow-up. As new parishioners join the parish their gifts and areas of interest are identified after which contact information is passed along to respective ministry leaders.

f. Annual ministry fair or other ministry awareness activities conducted and ministry guidebook is produced and updated annually.  The annual stewardship fair is held in conjunction with our parish feast day and Parish Festival. This event draws over 1,000 parishioners and visitors; it offers an ideal venue to celebrate our parish and to learn about all the ministries, organizations and activities the parish has to offer throughout the year. Each year a Resource Directory is updated, printed, and mailed with the stewardship renewal materials. This directory includes all the ministries, along with a description and a contact person for each ministry. It also includes the names, addresses, phone numbers, and emails for each registered parish family as well as general information on how to live the stewardship way of life.
 

5. Empowering and Engaging Use of Parishioners' Gifts- "God gave us our gifts, not for our own glory or pride, but that we might use them for God's greater honor and glory. Use your gifts to help your fellow man as much as you can." --Chaplain Emil Kapaun, Servant of God

a. Parish has dedicated Volunteer Coordinator or Stewardship Director to serve as gifts discernment leader, coach and ministry coordinator.  Stewardship Coordinator has been on parish staff since February 2012 and has recently become full-time.  In addition to her hours a staff member and a steward each dedicate one day a week to assist with stewardship. The position is comprised of three main components.

  • To meet with new parishioners and with families who seek school sponsorship. The meeting includes stewardship formation, encompassing time, talent, and treasure; listening to their “story”, assessing their gifts and helping them decide where to place those gifts at the service of the parish; helping them discern a fair tithe; and tour of the campus which concludes at the Perpetual Adoration Chapel.
  • To provide coaching to parishioners who are discerning their gifts or whose circumstances have changed allowing them to give their time, talent, and treasure in different amounts or capacity.
  • To serve as parish office liaison with all ministry leaders providing communication between the leaders and the office staff, providing training and tools, bridging the gifts of the parishioners with the needs of the ministries and connecting those parishioners with our 70+ ministry and organization leaders.

b. Parish offers a gifts discernment process to help parishioners identify their gifts and discern where best to use them for the benefit of the parish community and beyond.  The process includes personal meetings with the Stewardship Coordinator, reviewing the Parish Resource Directory, completing the parish stewardship forms that include pledges of time, talent, and treasure. The Stewardship Council and Stewardship Coordinator follow up by connecting the parishioner with the ministry or organization in which he or she has indicated interest in serving.

c. Parishioners are aware of expectations of parish membership.  Expectations are communicated through bulletin articles, pledge cards, covenant/stewardship prayers, challenging stewardship-themed homilies, welcome packet materials.  We sincerely desire and hope that our parish is made up of disciples of Christ who yearn to be active stewards. But what is an active steward? We answer this question and communicate this to parish members in many different ways. Fr. Jirak incorporates the message of living a stewardship way of life in his homilies, letters and blog posts. We use “Stewardship by the Book” messages in the bulletin to reinforce the readings and the stewardship message. The Stewardship Coordinator sends a monthly stewardship message to all ministry leaders and parish and school staff; the message is posted in the bulletin, on the parish website and Facebook page, and in the school newsletter The Baron Buzz.  The resource directory that is mailed with the renewal materials and given to new parishioners in the welcome packet defines an active steward. During pdf stewardship formation meetings (178 KB) with parishioners, the Stewardship Coordinator describes parishioners' responsibilities as active stewards.

d. Parishioners are regularly recongonized for using their gifts to serve the community.  Each ministry recognizes its servants differently, some use the bulletin to offer thanks for its members, others use Facebook to add pictures and tag its ministers for the day, and others value a hand written thank you note. The Stewardship Coordinator offers an hour of Eucharistic adoration weekly for the intentions of a specific ministry leader and sends that person a thank you card. The Men's Club awards "Man of the Year" to one of its stewards each year and the Women's Altar Society hosts a Past Presidents and Volunteer Apprecaiation Dinner to honor and recognize its many stewards.

e. Ministry descriptions are used to effectively communicate expectations for serving in ministry and indicated term limits.  Term limits are strongly encouraged to refresh ministries and ministers.  Parish Pastoral Council, Finance Council, School Council, Men’s Club, Women’s Altar Society, and Stewardship Council practice regular rotation of leadership. Youth ministries, faith formation ministries, prayer groups, or those ministries that provide services may not have expressed term limits. We consider leaders’ gifts, energies, and strengths along with the needs of the ministry and the parish community; a defined term limit does not always serve the community best. The pastor and the Stewardship Coordinator review the ministries and organizations on a case-by-case basis to ascertain if there is a need for additional support, coaching or training, or whether new leadership is needed.

f. Leaders of ministry and formed in Stewardship and effectively follow-up and welcome parishioners as they indicate interest.  The following efforts are tools which are used continuously to form ministry leaders in the stewardship way of life, as well as, to encourage evangelization and to increase prayer life.

  • Monthly stewardship message – Stewardship Coordinator emails monthly stewardship messages
  • Annual Leadership Retreat – a day of prayer and formation
  • Leaders’ Meeting – leaders are given lists generated from stewardship forms along with instructions and formation
  • Leadership workshops and institutes – the Pastor sends leaders to various programs provided by the diocese and the Spiritual Life Center
  • Stewardship Conferences – all leaders are encouraged to attend the Diocesan Stewardship Conference. Stewardship Council members attend the Regional Stewardship Conference and the ICSC Conference.

Follow Up & Welcome: Leaders are given initial lists generated from the annual stewardship renewal. Instructions include contacting the stewards within 30 days. The Stewardship Council follows up with the leaders to ensure that contact has been made and to offer support. Outside the renewal period, new parishioner information is sent from the Parish Office Manager to the Welcoming Committee, Men’s Club, Women’s Altar Society, and Knights of Columbus. Representatives from these groups call and welcome the new parishioners.  When new or newly-engaged parishioners indicate interest in a ministry, the Stewardship Coordinator sends that information to the leaders.

 

6. Communication“The Gospel lives in conversation with culture, and if the Church holds back from the culture, the Gospel itself falls silent. Therefore, we must be fearless in crossing the threshold of the communication and information revolution now taking place.” -- St. John Paul II

a. Describe what forms of media are used to permeate the Stewardship message throughout parish life.  The stewardship message is powerful and we try to share it with everyone. We utilize all the traditional methods of communication (bulletin, mass announcements, email messages, website, mailings, posters, bulletin boards, events and telephone). More recently we have embraced the use of Social Media to broadcast messages and the response has been astonishing. The Church of the Blessed Sacrament Facebook page has gone from 308 friends in August of 2012 to 1,250 friends today. On average our pdf Facebook (519 KB) posts reach nearly 10,000 people a week.  We generally begin the day with a prayer post: part of the daily readings, a quote from the Saint honored that day, or other inspirational quote.  Then each day we try to also promote an upcoming event, post pictures of stewardship in action, introduce a new family, or feature a person/family receiving a Sacrament.  The use of social media has made our parish family accessible, comfortable, and hospitable to people all around the world and we believe has spread the seeds of evangelization even further than we may ever know.

b. Describe any unconventional or unique communication means for reaching a higher percent of parishioners.  We are reaching out to a higher percentage of the parishioners by meeting them where they are. We are now using monthly newsletters, blogs, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Tumblr as a means of communication and evangelization.  Pastor emails are sent to parishioners every few weeks with relevant messages regarding parish life, stewardship and spirituality.  We also post the weekend homilies on our website.

 

7. Welcome and Hospitality"For the Catholic Church, no one is a stranger, no one is excluded, no one is far away." --Pope Paul VI closing homily for Second Vatican Council (1965)

The parish has an effective welcome program and exhibits warm and inviting hospitality to all

a. New parishioner orientation/official welcome/mentor families.  We make every effort to be hospitable and welcoming to everyone; we realize that an impression is formed the first time the person has an interaction with a current or previous parishioner, a staff member, the website, the Facebook page, or printed materials. For our Parish Festival in 2013 we invited every household (pdf see invite (1.89 MB)) within our parish boundaries to join us for an outdoor Mass and an evening of food, fun and fellowship. It did not matter to us if they were members of our parish or not, we wanted everyone in the area to feel welcome at Blessed Sacrament. We made many new friends that day, some joined the parish as a result of the invitation and others became and remained our friends in Christ.

pdf Welcome Cards (375 KB) in Pews: This past Christmas and Easter we placed a welcome card in the pews inviting visitors to contact us if they would like more information about the Catholic faith, Blessed Sacrament's parish life and activities, or if they would like a call from a priest.  The card is perforated so they can keep the portion with Mass and confession times along with parish contact information.

New Parishioners: Once an individual/family decides that Blessed Sacrament is the parish family they want to join, they can fill out a registration card on our website, by calling the parish office, or in person in the parish office. The Stewardship Coordinator meets with new parishioners to welcome them, give them orientation, and provide stewardship formation (See 5a above).  The contact information for each new parishioner is then distributed to the Welcome Committee, and a representative of the Altar Society, Men’s Club and the Knights of Columbus. These members make phone calls, emails, or write personal notes to the new parishioners in order to invite them to an upcoming event or simply to answer a question. Quarterly dinners are held for new parishioners following the Saturday evening Mass (see invite) to serve as an opportunity for more personal interaction with Fr. Jirak and established parishioners.

b. Visitor guide/newcomer's package/gift.  At the time the new parishioner registers, they are given printed materials such as the resource directory, a picture directory, a map of the campus, the parish annual report, the most recent bulletin and a card with Mass and Confession times.

c. Weekly hospitality/socialization after mass.  Ushers are present at each Mass not only to assist individuals/families in finding a seat prior to Mass but also to greet people and open the doors as people enter our church. Ushers position themselves at the exits of the church at the conclusion of Mass to distribute bulletins, answer questions, and to offer well wishes for the upcoming week. Monthly there are members of the Altar Society at the exits to extend a themed Save the Date card and a personal invitation to all women to join in their next meeting or event. All parishioners are invited to coffee, donuts, bagels, and juice following the 6:30 and 9:00 AM Masses and following the 11:00 AM Mass on the first Sunday of the month. Childcare during Mass and other parish events has become of utmost importance. Adults, high school youth and middle school youth serve the parish by offering their time and talent to care for the small children of our parish family so that adults can attend meetings, bible studies, retreats, and formation opportunities.

d. Kiosk or table outside church for welcoming and ministry information distribution. For parish events such as the Parish Festival, the Parish Mission, large parish dinners, and Masses around Christmas, Easter, Confirmation and First Communion we have a group of parishioners who serve as Hospitality Hosts. They are available at these events to greet, serve, answer questions, direct traffic, open doors, carry plates or drinks, clear tables etc. At the Parish Festival the Hospitality Hosts wear bright green shirts with name tags so that they can be clearly and quickly identified as someone who can help.

e. Hospitality ministers greeting parishioners by name.  Our Ushers and Hospitality Hosts understand the importance of a personal connection.  They greet anyone they know by name and introduce themselves to everyone they may not recognize.  Posting new parishioner pictures and information on social media allows for the entire parish to welcome newcomers by name.

f. Important days acknowledged.  The Parish Christmas card, which pictures our parish priests, is one of the most anticipated mailings of the year, sometimes it is elegant, sometimes it is casual and other times it is downright funny. Every parishioner is mailed this card during the Christmas season and they are found displayed in parishioners' homes for weeks following. Ministries such as Altar Society and Men’s Club host volunteer appreciation events to thank stewards for the countless hours of time and immeasurable amount of talent given to the parish. At other times token of thanks are given by the parish staff, the ministry leaders or the priest himself (e.g. gift given to outgoing chairperson or mission speaker). Handwritten “Thank You” cards abound and lots of celebration of parish and personal successes are shared and encouraged at Blessed Sacrament.

 

8. General Parish Assessment"Christians must recognize that they do not lead or guide the church, but that the Holy Spirit does and the Holy Spirit can be unpredictable. From the very beginnings of Christianity, church leaders and members have been tempted at times to block the Holy Spirit's path or try to control it. When the Lord shows us the way, who are we to say no?" -- Pope Francis

a. Parish is an example to other parishes of similar size and is open to mentoring other parishes in the Diocese/Archdiocese.  The Church of the Blessed Sacrament is filled with the Holy Spirit and its work is recognized throughout the Diocese of Wichita. The parish Stewardship Coordinator serves on the Diocesan Stewardship Advisory Council and the parish Business Manager is the chairman of the Diocesan Business Managers Association. Out of this association a parish bookkeepers group and a business manager mentoring program are being developed. Additionally, our parish has coached other parishes both within the diocese and outside of the diocese regarding the role and tasks of our Stewardship Coordinator, our welcoming process and hospitality efforts, our Parish Book Program, and our annual report. The Stewardship Council has exhibited at the Region IX Conference and the Stewardship Coordinator and New Evangelization Coordinator presented at the pdf Diocesan Stewardship Conference (2.97 MB) in April as well as at several other parishes.

b. What is unique about this parish?  What lived lessons does the parish have to offer other parishes just starting to embrace Stewardship?  Our parish is unique because we have discovered a way to sustain a stewardship way of life for the long term: stewardship inspired and shaped by the New Evangelization. Once a person is passionate about his relationship with Christ and strives to ever deepen this relationship, he has an unending and renewed vigor to respond to the love of Christ expressed in the life of an active steward. We would offer to other parishes that are beginning a stewardship journey to focus on developing the personal encounter with Christ and the interior life as a precursor to concentrating on time, talent, and treasure. 

c. In what area does the parish have the greatest opportunity for growth in living Stewardship?  Our greatest opportunity is to cooperate with the Holy Spirit and continue to integrate the new evangelization and stewardship way of life in order to reach out further to those who are not engaged in the Church. The challenge is to strengthen the infrastructure of the parish to ensure continuity & growth in all dimensions of the stewardship way of life.  Accordingly, last year we began work with the Catholic Leadership Institute to create a parish priority plan.  This work has included a parish-wide survey called the Disciple Maker Index and the creation of a pastoral planning team.  The parish priority plan is scheduled to launch in December 2015.

Measurable Parish Data/Growth in
Stewardship Efforts over Five Year Period

Description20102011201220132014
# of Registered Households 968 989 1026 1047 1104
# of Parishioners Using
Envelopes/Regular Contributors
644 653 737 660 714
# of Parishioners Giving Electronically 17 27 21 128 232
Total Offertory1 $2,668,534 $2,731,619 $2,913,914 $3,117,363 $3,376,862
# of Ministries 45 62 68 72 70
# of Parishioners Involved In
Parish Ministry
1717 1750 1863 1928 2005
# of Pledges at Stewardship Renewal 335 356 446 490 612
$'s Tithed Outside the Parish $343,147 $389,727 $381,363 $409,072 $293,652

Notes:

1. Total offertory includes gifts of tithe and gifts designated to "Our Challenge".

The Church of the Blessed Sacrament Roman Catholic Church + 124 N Roosevelt Wichita, KS 67208 + 316-682-4557 + Sacramental Emergency Phone: 316-512-2206 + parish@blessedsacramentwichita.com

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