By Laureen McMahon
The B.C. Catholic
SAN DIEGO -- Graces were falling like manna from heaven when delegates from the Vancouver Archdiocese attended the International Catholic Stewardship Council's 48th annual conference recently in San Diego.
"I have never seen such enthusiasm and engagement," said Barbara Dowding, Vice Chancellor of the archdiocese and Director of the Vancouver Stewardship Office. "Our group of 20 lay men and women representing nine parishes was led by Archbishop Miller, along with Monsignor Jensen and five priests."
The delegates, said Dowding, were overwhelmed with the quality and quantity of the presentations. "With a choice of 80 speakers covering five separate tracks of stewardship to choose from it was like a buffet where, as much as you wanted to, you simply could not sample everything!
"We all had great experiences, and it's now our task to ensure our upcoming 1st Annual Vancouver Archdiocesan Stewardship Conference at St. Helen's Parish in Burnaby on Nov. 12 and 13 will be as rewarding."
A few delegates to San Diego spoke to The B.C. Catholic about their impressions.
Jane Rosenthal, president of the Catholic Women's League at Holy Rosary Cathedral, remarked, "For anyone looking for meaning, and a fulfilling lifestyle, stewardship is the key. It is an amazing way to live and can open the door to abundant blessings from God.
"This conference was an amazing spiritual journey, and I will treasure the memories of the wonderful people I was privileged to meet and the inspiring speakers whom I was blessed to have heard."
John Joseph, a member of a newly formed stewardship committee at St. Luke's Parish in Maple Ridge, told The B.C. Catholic that the conference had given him "a whole new understanding of what stewardship means in the context of the Catholic faith. I now consider it to be complete discipleship for Christ.
"It is not just giving money but learning to nourish the treasures you have received from God and returning them to Him. I have a new dimension to my life as a Catholic."
Corinna Siy, administrative assistant at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Vancouver, was drawn to the talks on the spirituality of stewardship.
"I realized that stewardship is so much more than just giving `time, talent, and treasure,' but a way of life that recognizes that everything is a gift from God. We are responsible to care for what we have been given and then to give back.
"It is important that those who teach stewardship communicate its real meaning. Stewardship is really intrinsic to our Catholic faith. A good first step for a parish is emphasizing hospitality and engaging people. From there the desire to be involved will follow."
At the Vancouver Stewardship Conference this coming November Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, who heads the roster of speakers for Friday evening, will offer his vision of stewardship for the archdiocese.
The conference keynote speaker, Father Brendan McGuire from San Jose, Calif., "is widely sought after, popular, and a passionate stewardship teacher," said Dowding.
As well, Scott Bader from the Archdiocese of Seattle and others experienced in stewardship will be speaking, she added, and everyone is warmly encouraged to attend, whether or not they have had experience with stewardship.