Sharing history while sharing ideas
Like other history making days - both triumphant and tragic - we will remember where we were early afternoon on Wednesday, March 13, 2013, when white smoke appeared above the Vatican. We will remember well where we were and with whom we shared the moments before the curtain opened and our new Holy Father was presented to the world.
I will remember with much gratitude that I shared those hours with 36 dedicated ministers of our church. Our office has launched a six-part series of education and networking programs for those in our archdiocese who are involved in stewardship and development.
On March 13, we held a day-long workshop in Omaha on annual fund programs. Representatives from parishes, schools and ministries across the archdiocese, along with a few fine people from the Lincoln and Kansas City, Kan., dioceses gathered to garner knowledge and sharpen skills to take back to their respective ministries. Most in attendance were staff responsible for stewardship and development; others had varied roles like the business manager from Ss. Cyril and Methodius Parish in Clarkson or the religious education director at St. Patrick Parish in Elkhorn who were looking for tools to help strengthen their parishes.
When a number of phones alerted us to the white smoke, we paused to pray in thanksgiving for the unknown man who would fill the empty chair of Peter. Our excellent speaker then continued with the soundless EWTN coverage on our big screen rather than the power point presentation. We joined billions in anticipation. When Pope Francis was finally introduced there were tears and cheers of joy in the room that united with the tears and cheers across the world. What a moment to share.
We are getting to know this humble servant whose words and deeds suggest he regards social outreach as the church's central concern. Last year, then-Cardinal Bergoglio said to the priests of Argentina, "Jesus teaches us another way: Go out. Go out and share your testimony. Go out and interact with your brothers. Go out and share. Go out and ask. Become the Word in body as well as spirit."
This sentiment aligns with the work of stewardship and development in our archdiocese as we strive to advance our parishes, schools and ministries. Foundational elements to these efforts are engagement and discipleship - inviting people to become involved in, to invest in and to perpetuate these life-giving apostolates.
As for the 36 disciples with whom I shared this special day: I witnessed their enthusiasm to learn new and more effective ways to impart the message about their important ministries and to invite their alumni, parents and parishioners to advance their missions through time, talent, financial gifts and prayers. I was touched by their dedication to support each other in this meaningful and sometimes arduous and misunderstood work.
I felt hope knowing that these dedicated people were returning to schools such as Pope John XXIII Central Catholic in Elgin, St. Columbkille in Papillion and St. Bernard in Omaha as positive forces whose focus is sharing the Gospel message and inviting us to be Christ. They indeed will encourage others in their communities to "Go out ... Go out and share ... and ask." They are the "Word in body as well in spirit," and I am grateful for their service.
Shannan Brommer is the director of the Archdiocesan Office of Stewardship and Development. Contact her at email@example.com.