Stewardship Council head urges Catholics to dig deep
January 1, 0001
Michael Murphy, executive director of the International Catholic Stewardship Council, said Catholics should not only be disciples but doers of God’s word. Photo by Ron Martinez.
HOUSTON — At the recent Greater Houston Catholic Stewardship Conference held in Sugar Land, the executive director of the International Catholic Stewardship Council urged Catholics to step up their game by giving more of their time, more of their money and more of their heart in order to be faithful stewards of the Church.
“I want you to prayerfully consider what financial support you can give to the parish and what service you can provide for the parish,” Michael Murphy, executive director of the International Catholic Stewardship Council, told the 250 attendees at his presentation, titled “Christian Stewardship: Putting the Eucharist into Action.”
Referencing the Gospel of Matthew’s “Sermon on the Mount,” Mother Teresa, St. Augustine of Hippo and others, Murphy said Catholics should not only be disciples but doers of God’s word. That starts, he said, when Catholics come to a better understanding of what it means to be a Christian steward so they can put the Eucharist into action.
Murphy laid out the principals of Christian stewardship — the call to discipleship, the covenant with the Lord, communion with others and conversion. Catholics, he said, should heed Christ’s call for a deeper relationship, put their faith into practice every day and do that within the community and be open to a change of mind and heart.
“The stewardship question for us is, ‘What gifts did we bring to the Lord’s table?’” Murphy said.
“Part of Christian stewardship is moving beyond our boundaries — helping people in our pews learn how to challenge themselves and discover what they really can do.”
Murphy said a tricky topic surrounding stewardship is money. He said often in his capacity as the former director of development for the Archdiocese of Detroit he was faced with resistance when it came to talking about money and fundraising.
However, he said, it is important for Catholics to understand that funding is vital for the Church to grow and thrive.
“What are we going to do with over 60 percent of Jesus’ parables if we don’t talk about money?” Murphy said, adding that Catholics on average give less than one penny for every earned dollar to the collection plate. “We can’t turn away from that.”
Murphy was the keynote speaker, among two dozen speakers, at the day-long conference, which brought together more than 250 priests, deacons, Church leaders and staff. Outside of the 33 local parishes represented, the Dioceses of Austin, Fort Worth, Beaumont and Corpus Christi had participants in attendance.
In his welcome address, Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of the Austin Diocese talked about the need for this kind of conference to educate Catholics about stewardship and bring the community together, especially in light of the growth of what he described as the “mega Archdiocese” of Galveston-Houston.
Bishop Vasquez said, “We are called to recognize and use our God-given talents and resources for the good of others.”
Being a disciple of Jesus Christ and a steward go hand in hand — together they form a way of life which impacts everything that one does.
For Christine Oring-Ghobrial, a member of the St. Ignatius Loyola Catholic Church’s stewardship committee, the conference, whose theme was “Do Whatever He Tells You,” was enlightening. She said she is coming away with a better understanding of what she needs to do.
“We have to get the message out that if our parishioners want the Church they have a responsibility to be good stewards, especially young people — they are the future leaders in our community and in our country,” Oring-Ghobrial said.
Michael Murphy, executive director of the International Catholic Stewardship Council, was one of two dozen speakers who presented at the July 22 Greater Houston Catholic Stewardship Conference at St. Laurence Catholic Church in Sugar Land. Speakers covered a host of topics that explored Christian stewardship — from stewardship for children and the economics of stewardship to engaging people as disciples and enlisting parish volunteers.
Murphy has provided leadership in Christian stewardship formation and institutional Catholic philanthropy for more than 20 years. Murphy was an attorney and taught at American College of Insurance and Tax Institute. He has a master’s degree in systematic theology from the University of Notre Dame.
The Archdiocese has a stewardship networking group that meets on the second Thursday of the month from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. All are welcome. For more information, contact Coni Perez at firstname.lastname@example.org or Toney Oltremari at email@example.com. †