New director continues ‘creating a culture of stewardship’

“My favorite part of the job is going into the parishes and meeting with the people,” said Shawna Hanson, recently appointed director of the Office of Stewardship. “You get to know so many wonderful people and see the good things they are doing. It’s a great grace to see how hard they work and how much they love Jesus.”

Effective July 1, the combined Offices of Vocations and Stewardship will be separated, with Fr. Mark McCormick retaining the Vocation Director duties, and his administrative assistant, Hanson, becoming the Director of Stewardship. “My role is to be of service to the churches,” said Hanson.

The Diocese of Rapid City is currently advertising for an assistant to work with both offices.

Hanson has worked in the Vocations and Stewardship Office for the past three years. She is a graduate of the University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyo., with a degree in personnel administration (human resources). Her prior work has included a number of part-time positions. In addition to working in personnel administration, she has done bookkeeping for homebased businesses, medical billing and tutoring of students in reading and spelling. She also ran a child care business. “Most of my energy and my primary focus have been on my family,” she said.

During her work in the Stewardship Office she has assisted with the Summit, an annual workshop to inspire people in applying the stewardship ideals to all aspects of their lives so it becomes “a Catholic Way of Life.”

The second part of the department’s agenda according to Hanson is a component of Bishop Robert Gruss’ Diocesan Priority Plan, Through Him, With Him and In Him. It calls for identifying Stewardship Parishes. To do that the Stewardship Office members assembled a group of parishioners from urban and rural churches to define “Characteristics of a Stewardship Parish.” The ideas became a booklet which outlines the attributes of a Stewardship Parish as well as self-assessment tools for parishes to use to help ascertain their strengths and weaknesses in the area of stewardship. Churches are enlivened beginning with the first phase — Foundational Parishes. “It means looking through our three lenses of stewardship — Hospitality, Faith and Discipleship,” she said.

Currently, Our Lady of the Black Hills Church, Piedmont, has been designated a Foundational Parish. It is now working through the second phase, looking at Generous Hospitality. Council members are finding their strengths in this area and the ways they would like to grow. St. Patrick Church, Lead, and St. Ambrose Church, Deadwood, as well as St. John Church, Ft. Pierre, are close to becoming Foundational Parishes and three others are looking in to it.

Foundational Parishes have active Finance, Pastoral and Stewardship Councils. They have clear mission and vision statements with goals for all areas of parish life; and they have an up-to-date census. These parishes follow the norms outlined by the diocese for financial record keeping and reporting. They have effective means of communication and parishioners take responsibility for parish programs.

Once Parish Finance and Stewardship Councils review the assessments and determine their church’s strengths and weakness, they talk to the Diocesan Stewardship Office staff. “We help them set goals,” she said.

At the diocesan-wide level, “our next step will be going deeper into the three lenses. This is not a program you go through, get your degree and move on,” she said. “If you listened to the speakers at last year’s Summit, Chris Stewart and Tony Brandt, their lives are peppered with stewardship — it’s the lens they look at life through, raise their children by, do their work, and interact with the church. Its everything.”

She will be continuing the goal of creating a culture of stewardship. “It’s a long journey to develop that,” said Hanson. In June the office sponsored “Ambassadors for Christ, A Stewardship Leadership Training.”