Conference on ‘cultivating gifts we all have’


HEADLINERS: Koren Ruiz, with wife Jessica, is seen leading praise-and-worship at a Spanish-language conference on Sept. 12, 2019, at Corpus Christi Parish in Bonita. He will be the main speaker at an upcoming Evangelization and Discipleship Conference, held in English on April 27 at the Our Mother of Confidence Parish. (Credit: Aida Bustos)

Share this article:

SAN DIEGO — “Lord, what do You want of me?”

Anyone seeking an answer to that question – especially pastors, parish staff and ministry leaders – are encouraged to attend the upcoming Evangelization and Discipleship Conference, which will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, April 27, at Our Mother of Confidence Parish.

Sponsored jointly by the diocesan Offices for Evangelization and Catechetical Ministry and Stewardship, the event aims to transform the local Church by fostering a “culture of stewardship” at parishes.

The upcoming conference is scheduled to begin with an opening prayer led by Auxiliary Bishop Felipe Pulido.

There will be a plenary session led by the nationally known speaker Koren Ruiz, founder and president of Corresponsables de Dios (Stewards of God).

Three breakout sessions will be led by Father Edmundo Zárate-Suárez, pastor of St. Jude Shrine of the West Parish; Maryanne Russell, director of evangelization and stewardship at St. Brigid Parish; and Father Efraín Bautista, pastor of Corpus Christi Parish in Bonita.

“Stewardship is the fruit of a lived relationship with God; it is discipleship in action,” explained Russell. “We experience a culture of stewardship in a community where its members are actively, generously and joyfully sharing their time, talents … and material resources in the ways God has uniquely equipped and inspired each of them.”

Manny Aguilar, director of the diocesan Office for Stewardship, said that the conference is “about cultivating the gifts that we all have.”

“It’s important for us to identify those gifts and use those gifts,” he said.

Aguilar said that the diocese has worked successfully with Corresponsables de Dios in the  Spanish-speaking community. This conference represents its introduction to the English-speaking community.

Bishop Pulido had the experience of collaborating with Corresponsables de Dios in fostering a stewardship culture at St. Joseph Parish in Yakima, Washington, when he served as pastor from 2011 to 2020.

The bishop recalled that Ruiz worked with the parish over a period of six months. He said that Ruiz helped to explain stewardship by comparing the parish to a house where siblings live together, each working and helping to pay the bills.

In a parish that has a culture of stewardship, said Bishop Pulido, parishioners feel a sense of “ownership.”

The bishop contrasted stewardship with fundraising.

Fundraising can be a “one-time” thing, with parishioners asking how much money is needed and then handing over that amount, he explained. On the other hand, stewardship is “a way of life.”

“It’s sharing your time, your talent, and your treasure, whenever you get a chance, all the time,” the bishop said.

Russell said that St. Brigid’s commitment to stewardship goes back a long way.

She recalled how her pastor, Msgr. Steve Callahan, asked her in 2009 to coordinate the parish’s stewardship efforts. He had recently attended a conference that inspired him “to be more intentional about forming parishioners in a stewardship way of life.”

Russell’s breakout session is titled “All Are Welcome: Cultivating a Spirit of Hospitality in Our Parishes and Beyond.” She said that, among other things, her parish improved its hospitality efforts, with a focus on personally welcoming new parishioners and improving hospitality at Mass and parish events.

“At St. Brigid Parish, we see two sides of the same coin,” she said. “On the one side, evangelization is the ‘what,’ as we help people encounter Jesus. Also on that side, you have discipleship; that’s the ‘why’ that proceeds from that encounter and choice to ‘drop your nets’ and follow Christ. On the other side, you have stewardship, which is the ‘how,’ or specific ways people carry out their unique path of following Jesus and bringing God’s love and provision to the world.”

“If you took a snapshot of our parish today,” she said, “I hope you would find a community where people feel welcomed as they are, are provided opportunities to encounter Jesus, are formed and accompanied well, can discover and use their unique spiritual gifts, and are equipped and sent out on mission to bring Christ to the world.”

Father Rey Evangelista, pastor of St. Mary Star of the Sea Parish in Oceanside, also has experienced the challenges and rewards of embracing a stewardship mentality.

Before his parish participated in the diocese’s Stewardship Enhancement Initiative Program in 2022, he said, the parish needed “to re-boost our energy” in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Father Evangelista said that embracing a culture of stewardship means becoming active participants in the mission of the Church, “not just onlookers.”

As a result of the initiative, he said, parishioners came to know their “special role as true disciples and good stewards.”

“New ministries are developing, and new people are arriving,” he said. “The participation of our community and leaders has increased because they know how important it is to share their time, talent and treasure for our Church.”

The cost to attend the conference is $20 and includes lunch. Registration is required.

For more information, contact Terry Campa at (858) 490-8232 or tcampa@sdcatholic.org.

Tags: , , , , ,

Recent News

You May Also Like

Conference Challenges Faithful to Make Stewardship a Lifelong Journey

Cardinal highlights role of ‘Laudato Si’

‘Spring Forward’ offers renewal, fellowship

News around the diocese: Cardinal to give address at USD conference, school hosting gala at ballpark, and more

U.S. bishops gather for plenary in Baltimore

‘This is the right moment’ to share Gospel joy, pope says