To develop and foster a Christian Community atmosphere whereby the spiritual and social needs of parishioners can be realized through a total stewardship program of time, talent and treasure resulting in a sense of belonging, involvement and commitment for each parishioner.
St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Wichita Kan., has been working to rebuild our country, and for these efforts we were the first parish in the nation to be awarded the Archbishop Thomas J. Murphy Memorial Parish Stewardship Award in 1998.
A Brief History of Stewardship at St. Francis of Assisi Parish
Stewardship is a way of life and a vital part of St. Francis of Assisi Parish. Giving of our Time, our Talent and our Treasure and bringing us closer to God was a message Father Thomas McGread brought to St. Francis Parish when he was appointed Pastor in 1968. He brought with him a vision from the words of St. Peter:
"As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God's varied grace." (1 Peter 4:10)
The vision was not to be denied by the 600 families of the parish at that time. Monsignor Tom's message was simple. Strive to share our gifts of time, talent and treasure for the service of God and all of His people. Do this out of thanksgiving to God for all that He has given us. Having initiated the Stewardship Way of Life, he encouraged this stewardship-inspired parish to grow and prosper. There was a sense of unity, harmony and spirituality as never before within the parish.
By 1980, those 600 families had grown to 1250 and the decision was made to establish St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish to ease the crowding at St. Francis. But St. Francis continued to grow, averaging over 2500 families. Once again, another west Wichita parish was established in 2008; St Catherine of Siena. God's Blessings continue to pour forth and multiply on the Parish of St. Francis of Assisi.
In 1985, seventeen years after the vision of Stewardship was first brought to St. Francis of Assisi, the first Stewardship Committee was formed. It consisted of twelve members selected by the Pastor. The committee met weekly to study, refine and further develop the Parish structure to insure that the gifts of time and talent were utilized so that all parishioners had the opportunity to serve and be served. The committee was increased to twelve couples in the mid 90s. The top priority of the committee is year-round stewardship education with emphasis on the spiritual, as well as the annual Stewardship Renewal in November.
Today, more than 80 groups, ranging from the spiritual to the social, minister to the various needs of parishioners and to the community. Perpetual Adoration began in 1986 and continues today 24/7 with over 300 participating in the devotion. This has contributed to the development of 10 priests and 8 men and women who have professed vows to the religious life from our parish. Boy Scout Troop 762 began 50 years ago with 100 young men from this troop earning their Eagle Scout Award. Some of the parishioner's visions that inspired many volunteers to join in were: Guadalupe Clinic, Habitat Homes, St. Anthony of Padua Parish Library, and Generations of Faith. Stewardship Hall was built almost entirely by parishioner's hands in 2007.
Education is at the forefront of Stewardship at the parish. RCIA and RCIC average over 20 participants each year. Parish School of Religion has over 400 enrolled. Our parish grade school has over 650 students and a pre-school was added in 2007. 166 volunteers aid the parish school in the resource room, classrooms and lunchroom.
This commitment to living the Stewardship Way of Life by parishioners was naturally ingrained in the families. There are many second and third generation families in the parish living the Stewardship Way of Life, and many others are spread throughout the country fostering the concept. It is the sense of ownership in the parish that helps develop spirituality and the on-going activities of the parish. It is this ongoing conversion of parishioners and priests that makes St. Francis a vibrant, growing, spirit-filled community of believers.
St. Francis of Assisi Parish became nationally known as the parish to model after in regards to Stewardship. The U. S. Bishop's 1992 Pastoral Letter, "Stewardship, A Disciples' Response" had its beginnings at St. Francis some 24 years before the release of the pastoral letter. Because of the success at St. Francis, the Wichita Diocese became the first fully Stewardship Diocese in the country in 1985. National recognition included: one of eight featured parishes in a book titled, Excellent Catholic Parishes; Father McGread received the Christian Stewardship Award in 1993 and St. Francis Parish was presented the Archbishop Thomas J. Murphy Memorial Parish Stewardship Award by the National Catholic Stewardship Council in 1998. St. Francis was the first to receive this award for the parish which best displays a long-term commitment to stewardship as a way of life and exemplifies spiritual growth and community outreach.
May we remember that God has Blessed St. Francis of Assisi parish from day one and many gave of themselves for the success of this parish. In the words of the Prayer of St. Francis, "It is in giving that we receive."