Monday, September 28, 2009

"What does a bishop do?"

2nd grader: "What does a bishop do?"

Bishop: "What do you think he does?"

2nd grader: 'Well, he writes letters asking for money."

Thus went an exchange between Bishop Eugene Gerber and one of the younger members of his flock about 30 years ago when His Excellency was leading the Diocese of Dodge City.

"That was when it first struck me that things have to change," Bishop Gerber told a reporter in 2004.

In 1982, when Gerber was transferred to head the Wichita diocese, he began thinking of ways to change how the diocese was governed. Gerber, who had served as a priest in the Wichita diocese before becoming bishop of Dodge City in 1976, knew of one parish where changes had already occurred.

Msgr. Tom McGread told NCR he first began considering a new model in 1959, after he read an article by two Mobile, Ala., priests who were trying to "come up with a Catholic idea of the Protestant practice of tithing."

He explained that when he introduced the model to his Wichita parish, St. Francis of Assisi, in 1969 his "emphasis was getting the people involved in the Parish, with their time and their talents. Once they became involved, they got a sense of belonging. Once they got a sense of belonging, then they got a sense of ownership."

McGread asked his parishioners to work out a percentage of giving, "according to what the Bible told us," he said. "I advised them to start with a lower percentage and work up and see if they missed it. One of the promises I made to them was if they were worse off financially at the end of the year after tithing, they could come back and we'd give them all their money back. In 40 years I never had anyone do that."

Gerber was encouraged by St. Francis' success. He began to hold meetings around the diocese asking three questions: "What are the qualities of a good parish? What are the obstacles? what would you do if you had unlimited resources?" He also began studying ways to meet the increasing challenges of providing Catholic education.

He said the findings "converged into one," and out of that emerged United Catholic Stewardship.

Following the new model, parishes began tithing 10 percent of their donations to the diocese each month, replacing the annual bishop's appeal and special collections.

All parishes agreed to pay for Catholic' education for the children of active parishioners. According to Daniel Loughman, diocesan director of stewardship and finance, between 60 and 70 percent of parish budgets are devoted to paying for Catholic education. The great majority of that money goes to schools, but religious education classes and other education ministries also figure in.

Gerber said that the parables in the Gospels are full of references to stewardship. He said that in order to succeed, the model must be "centered on the Eucharist." That focus on Eucharist is why "probably about 70 percent of our people, somewhere in there, are attending Mass on the Lord's Day. We have perpetual adoration here that I suspect, relatively speaking is unequaled." Currently" perpetual adoration continues in 18 parishes in the diocese. In some parishes it has been ongoing for nearly 20 years.

While free tuition to the schools is one of the fruits of Wichita's stewardship process, it is not the only one. The diocese built The Lord's Diner, a free diner for poor and homeless people, and supports the Guadalupe Clinic, which provides free health care for working poor people.

The conversion to the stewardship model has not always been easy. According to McGread, one of the biggest difficulties has been converting priests, rather than parishioners. Priests, he said, are often afraid that the stewardship process won't be "successful for them."

Gerber said some older priests may have "been schooled more in fundraising than in stewardship. As a consequence, they trust their longtime experience. That doesn't mean their ministry is less for it, but it is not something that I say meets the challenges of our time."

He said that stewardship "very much meets with [the approval of] the younger set of priests because it is a part of their theology, they know the scriptures, and they haven't been a part of any other models."

Gerber said he's been asked by bishops how to get started, and he tells them, "Well, just go start. Just go begin preaching it, go begin learning about it. If nothing else, get a cluster of parishes and start. If it takes one parish, start with one parish."

He said, "Some dioceses have decided they want to do it incrementally. We did it as one fell swoop. It takes a leap of faith to do that."

(Full source here. This story is the "RELATED ARTICLE" beginning here.)

That is how the Diocese of Wichita transformed itself into what is today a model of Catholic stewardship that any other diocese in this nation is free to emulate. What is amazing is that their story has been out there for years and yet so few dioceses have been willing to follow their lead.

Perhaps the reason is that Bishop Gerber neglected to mention the other necessary component (besides faith): Total loyalty to the Church as exemplified by full acceptance of all that she teaches.

That last part is a deal-breaker in far too many dioceses these days.

Opening conversation, updated 30 years and translated to DOR

So how would our opening conversation play out today here in DOR, were Bishop Clark ever to visit a Catholic school?

I suspect it would go something like this:

2nd grader: "What does a bishop do?"

Bishop: "What do you think he does?"

2nd grader: 'Well, he writes letters asking for money."

Bishop: "That's only part of my job, honey. I also close parishes and schools, appoint dissenters to head up parishes, allow non-ordained people to preach at Mass, appoint agenda-driven gatekeepers to make sure few if any orthodox vocations get sent to seminary and turn a blind eye to just about any liturgical abuse anyone can dream up.

"I also try to get out parishes to push stewardship, but that doesn't seem to be going very well."


Bishop Clark Must Go said...

Amen. Surely Bishop Clark is the Antichrist or at least a very good friend of his. Do you think Pope JPII sent him to us to test our faith like God did with the dinosaur bones? That the only reason I can come up with.

Ben Anderson said...

not sure about the antichrist remark... I certainly won't endorse talk like that. Perhaps you should go terrorize some other blog.

I've often thought the begging for money needs to stop. You must first get people convicted, then ask for me - not beg like little puppy dogs. It is the getting people convicted thing that is the major problem.

Convicted Catholic said...
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Anonymous said...

This anonymous poster above likes to use multiple names for himself. He began his reign of terror as "Irondequoit Catholic" at Cleansing Fire before he was banned from that site. He'll post repeated annoying and nasty comments under several aliases. He has already stopped by Rich's site a few days ago.

This most recent comment is very similar to the comment he left at another site asking "How many of your sons are priests?"

Nerina said...

Et tu, Convicted Catholic? What have YOU done? But that's not really the point.

Ben is right in that so many people have no convictions about Faith or anything else. I sat on our Stewardship Committee for 3 years and it was an exercise in frustration. One of the most frustrating moments came when we were picking out Stewardship themed calendars and one member said, "Well, we don't want one that looks too Catholic. That might turn people off." Say again?

The Witchita example is so inspiring. I might actually send my kids to Catholic school in that diocese. But I won't here in Rochester. NO way.

We do tithe, by the way, but it is because we know our Faith and, with the help of God's grace, we try to live it. And I freely admit that we support charities that uphold the traditional teaching of the church.

Ben Anderson said...

I'm not going to write out a laundry list for you, ConvictedCatholic, but I could. I hope to be able to say with St. Paul, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."
Anyways, this isn't about me and I think perhaps I wasn't clear in what I was saying. I wasn't calling out the laity (although they do share blame - including myself). I was suggesting that people need to be presented with a reason to be convicted. If our religion is nothing more than a watered down, feel-good version of the Oprah Winfrey show, then people have no reason to attend mass or to give money. People will respond if they believe in something - it flows naturally - you don't have to beg for it.

Banned said...
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Ben Anderson said...

Thank you for sharing your concerns. When I have time (hopefully w/in the next week) I will address them on my blog. You bring up some good points. I don't agree with all of them, but they deserve to be addressed. I hope we can turn this into a productive dialogue.

The Band said...
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Did Christ Laugh? said...
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Anonymous said...

"If the DOR is so intolerable to you perhaps you should drive to Batavia or join an Easter Rite church. Then you could wait around for the “orthodox” bishop and changes you’re all hoping for"

And what will you do when we receive an orthodox bishop? Will you cry and pout like you harass us for doing? Will you jump ship to Spiritus Christi?

"He also deserves your money. How else do you expect him to avoid closing more schools and churches?"

By giving money to the parish. Giving money to the CMA is not going to save a parish or school. Especially when only 5% of the CMA goes to Catholic schools.

"I am a lifelong practicing Catholic who is sick of you people dumping on other Catholics."

I'm a lifelong practicing Catholic sick of bishop Clark apologists like yourself.

"You don’t remember the days before Vatican II."

I'm 65, of course I remember the days. I remember them well. And I am happy to attend my local TLM.

"If you don’t like touchy-feeley Masses, bad music (I don’t either) and women helping out, don’t go to those Masses."

Then stop forcing us to accommodate your touchy-feely Masses. The people at St. Anne didn't ask for Joan Sobala to come take over their parish and enforce her ideas on the liturgy and commit liturgical abuses. We should not have to go parish hopping because your bishop whom you love so much is out to destroy orthodoxy and tradition.

Anonymous said...

And look at that, I was exactly right. This idiot is changing his i.d. with every post. Starting with "Bishop Clark Must Go" then "Convicted Catholic" then "Banned" then "The Band" then "Did Christ laugh?"

This person has too much time on their hands.

Love Your Neighbor said...
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Idiot said...
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Genjlcgettys said...

For someone who declares to us, "Love your neighbor," I don't see too much lovin' goin' on.

Why don't we just agree to mutual silence? ;-)

Burnin' Love said...
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Anonymous said...

"I didn't past this thing up. "


Derrrrrrrr said...
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Anonymous said...

"Thanks for the spell check."

You looked like you needed it.

Cradle Catholic said...
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Misspelled Sinner said...
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Anonymous said...

As far as the CMA goes, I feel that I would be going against Bishop Clark's wishes if I gave to it. For years I have seen him go on tv and tout the CMA (Thanksgiving Appeal) results as if they were a referendum on his leadership. Giving would consitute a "yes" vote and I certainly wouldn't want to disrespect our good bishop by giving an inaccurate vote.

Anonymous said...

"No wonder you're so nostalgic for the Church you remember. You never got to know the one it became."

What it became? It became Vatican II. It became clown liturgies, liturgical abuses, and Bishop Clark. Mike knows plenty what it became. And no, I'm not Mike who posted above.

"At the same time I'm always amused by the "I was away but now I'm back" Catholics who somehow feel more authentic than those of us who have been holding down the fort all along."

And you Bishop Clark apologists amuse me even more. You dish an awful lot of criticism, yet you claim that the orthodox traditional neoconservative (whatever negative terms you've used at other blogs) criticize too much. You have NOTHING GOOD TO SAY AT ALL. Look at yourself in the mirror.

"I'm glad you're back, Mike, we missed you, but please, lighten up. The Catholic Church isn't going away and neither are we."

Who is "we"? Progressive Catholics? I'm pretty sure they'll be running for the doors when Rochester gets an ass-kicking bishop in charge. Then they'll gather around Sr. Sobala and Nancy when they lose their jobs running parishes that they shouldn't be running in the first place.

Mike, no need to lighten up. This clown's attempts to get people to lighten up (here, at Cleansing Fire, and Rich's blog) are all really attempts to end the conversation, and let our diocese go further and further down into the hell hole its heading. This person is trying to create apathy among the orthodox bloggers. He's trying to weaken the message. He's trying to create disunity. Ignore this clown, for his motives are clear as day, and they are rotten.

LarryD said...

"I'm 65, of course I remember the days. I remember them well."

Mike, if that's you, I read your bio and did a little math.

Mike isn't afraid to comment using his own name - it's a thing called integrity.

Your comments are infantile. Grow up.

We said...
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Infantile said...
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Anonymous said...

"Are you saying you think Vatican II was wrong, that you’re against it, that you reject it? Is that what “orthodox” means? "

I'm saying that what came of the Church after Vatican II is wrong. Have you been living under a rock not to know that we have priests proclaiming heresy from the pulpit, Masses treated as a joke, and open dissent from the likes of you?

"Sorry. The numbers seemed to fit."

As if more proof were needed that you have way too much time on your hands. You've been posting stupid comments at Catholic blogs around the clock. Get some sleep already. And better, get a job.

"I see very few “liberal” blogs bashing neo-traditional whatever-you-are’s."

Because you're obsessed with attacking orthodox blogs that you don't know what is out there from the progressives. Their blogs are filled with heresy. They destroyed Bishop Martino. Don't you dare claim that the prog Catholics are innocent, for their hands are covered in the blood of an innocent bishop.

"Now, do you have anything GOOD TO SAY AT ALL about Catholics who are not as “orthodox” as you?"

I admire that they love the Lord Jesus Christ. I do not, however, admire heresy and dissent.

"“We” might call ourselves politically this or that, but at Mass “We” call ourselves “Catholic”."

You're confusing United States politics with adherence to Church teaching. Orthodox does not mean conservative, and progressive does not mean liberal. Orthodox means one follows the teachings of the Church. Progressive means one wants to alter the Church, and has little to no respect for doctrine or the authority of the Pope and the Magisterium.

"I have no idea who Sr. Sobala and Nancy are. "

Oh really? For a person who reads every post of the orthodox Catholic blogs, and studies them tooth and comb to find something to complain about, I find that tough to believe.

"Wow, is that what I’m doing? I thought I was just giving you a poke in the eye for insulting our bishop."

No, you're also making a jackass of yourself, and proving yourself to be nothing better than a stalker with too much time on his hands.

"The pot calling the kettle.


You're the only clown here, Irondequoit Catholic.

Mike said...

"Convicted Catholic" or "Banned" or "Loyal Catholic" or "The Band" or whatever else you've called yourself Tuesday,

Thanks for posting so frequently in such a short period of time. You made it extremely easy for me to go through my user log file and match up log in times with comment post times.

Of the 189 unique visitors to my blog on Tuesday only you were there often enough and at just the right times to post all those comments.

So why don't we just dispense with all the childish games and stick with one ID?

Might I suggest

Mike said...

Whoops! I copied the wrong IP Address.

Instead of the one above, let's go with

Ben Anderson said...

wow - so this discussion went on and on. I just don't have time to address all of it, but here's my promised response to your initial argument:

Loyal Catholic said...
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Anonymous said...

"I do have a problem when it crosses the line to personal insult as many of these blogs have done. "

Just like all of your posts have been filled with personal insults?

"I will try to say more later, but contrary to the good folks at DORCatholic and Blinding Fire I have other work to do. "

And what work would that be? Hopping on a library computer so you can harass people who banned you for flooding their comment sections with insulting dribble and dead priest jokes?

Loyal Catholic said...
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Loyal Catholic said...
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Anonymous said...

You need psychiatric help buddy. My goodness, get over yourself already.

Anonymous said...

"At the time you pointed this out you instituted some kind of registration process which you have since dropped. You said one of the reasons you were doing it was to prevent outright insults to Bishop Clark and apologized for doing it yourself on occasion. I jumped in this because 1) Careening Inferno banned me and 2) I noticed you opened your show AND went back to insulting our bishop. I guess you got over your guilt trip."

You REALLY are trying to hard. You also have too much time on your hands to go digging through the history of every blog to pick and find things to comment on.

Rob said...

If this is going to happen in every post, I think it may be time to remove anonymous posting again. Not that I'm not getting a laugh from this joker, I truly am, but it's not even close to being on topic.

A Progressive Catholic said...
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Mike said...


I'm going to hold off on tightening up on posting, at least for now.

Instead, I'm just going to make use of my delete key.

It only takes a second to make's nonsense disappear.

John F. Kennedy said...


Looks like I missed the party.