On Friday evening Sept. 29 and Saturday, Sept. 30, the Office of Stewardship will host the Third Annual Stewardship Summit. This year our conference will focus on the third lens of our Stewardship initiative: Dedicated Discipleship.
We understand that dedicated discipleship is rooted in the first or greatest commandment. In the Gospel, one of the scribes approaches Jesus with this question: “Which commandment is the first of all?”
Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mk 12:28-31).
Dedicated discipleship, then, encompasses both intentional love of God and intentional love of neighbor.
Sherry Weddell, in her book “Forming Intentional Disciples: The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus,” would call this dropping the net. We need to learn how to drop the nets of our own lives, just as the apostles dropped their nets, leaving behind the way of life they knew and with which they were so comfortable, to embrace a life with Jesus — a life of surrender that allowed Jesus to take control of their lives and hearts.
Echoing the words of a young seventh grader at Boys Totus Tuus camp this summer when praying the Stations of the Cross, “Easier said than done, Lord.”
To be a dedicated disciple of Jesus is not easy. It takes a lot of hard work with a lot of starts and stops along the way. However, God is patient and works gradually in our lives, bringing us to a point in which we hopefully can truly drop the nets of our own lives in order to follow Jesus, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life; there is no one other than he.
Weddell writes: “All of us must learn to drop our nets as the first disciples did and make an intentional choice to follow the Lord.”
After we have made this choice for ourselves, we are encouraged to begin assisting others. This can begin with a simple, two-part conversation with a friend, neighbor, family member or even a stranger. It begins with two simple questions:
Can you describe your relationship with God to this point in your life?
Can you tell me the story of your relationship with God so far?
Pope Francis says: “In the virtue of our baptism, all members of the people of God have become missionary disciples (Mt 28:19), every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus: we no longer say that we are disciples and missionaries, but rather we are always missionary disciples” (Evangelii Gaudium paragraph 119).
Are you intimidated when you are encouraged to be a missionary disciple? If so, you are not alone. After last year’s conference, we surveyed parishioners from around the diocese and the most common reason for not coming to the summit was, “I didn’t think it was for me.” The reality is that this conference is for you!
We have worked hard to ensure that it offers inspiring talks and workshops for all Catholics — from those who have already dropped their nets and are looking for ways to help others, to those who don’t even know they have a net, and everyone in between. Come and see just how easy it can be to first drop your own net and then share with others why you have done so.
Our keynote speakers are Tony Brandt and Chris Stewart of Casting Nets Ministries. “Tony and Chris have been speaking all over the country for more than a decade proclaiming the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ and equipping Catholics to become Missionary Disciples,” according to their website.
Both are former teachers who bring warmth, humor and wisdom to their presentations. They have great stories to tell about their own experiences living as dedicated disciples in the Diocese of Wichita, which has a rich and successful tradition of stewardship. They will give three addresses during the summit and will share with us their “Seven Pillars of Effective Evangelization.”
In addition to these talks, eight workshops will be offered. Bishop Robert Gruss has generously agreed to lead three workshops, Fr. Jonathan Dillon, who is the pastor of the parish clusters in Gregory County, will be back with three more stories of great saints and I will share wisdom from Brandon Vogt’s book, “Return,” which outlines proven steps for drawing your adult child back to the church.
Lastly, I am looking forward to welcoming many more families to the conference this year. An addition to our conference this year is a youth track – meaningful play and age appropriate stewardship lessons for toddlers through 9th grade. I look forward to seeing families from across the diocese at Terra Sancta in September.
Where: Terra Sancta
Cost: $50 per individual/
$75 per couple/$90 per Family/
$10 per College-aged student
— if registered before
If you have any questions about the Stewardship Summit, or if you’re not sure whether or not it is for you, please contact me at (605) 716-5214 x235 or firstname.lastname@example.org.