WASHINGTON (February 6, 2003) -- "The challenge to embrace stewardship as an expression of discipleship with the "power to change how we understand and live out our lives" is just as powerful now as it was in 1992 when the pastoral Stewardship: A Disciple"s Response was first published. Today, a new generation of Catholics is being introduced to the biblical concept of stewardship that embraces "the call to follow Jesus and imitate his way of life" through the publication of a new 10th anniversary edition, now available from USCCB Publishing, the publishing arm of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The 1992 pastoral letter, which described and fostered the Gospel spirituality of sharing, is considered one of the most influential documents in recent Church history. It declared: "This pastoral letter recognizes the importance of church support, including the sharing of time, talent and treasure. But it situates church support in its broader context-what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ."
"Once one chooses to become a disciple of Jesus Christ, stewardship is not an option."
A new preface to the 10th anniversary edition was approved by the full body of U.S. Catholic Bishops at its November 2002 General Meeting.
"Much has been accomplished with stewardship as a way of life in the contemporary Church," the new preface says. It notes that since 1992 archdiocesan and diocesan offices and directors of stewardship have multiplied across the nation, and every year increasing numbers of parishes introduce stewardship and the spirituality of giving. The International Catholic Stewardship Council (ICSC), a Catholic organization for the promotion of stewardship, counts 161 U.S. dioceses and 500 individual parishes as members.
The pastoral letter has served to communicate a vision and extend an invitation to Christian people to "grasp the fact that they are no less than God"s co-workers (1 Cor 3:9), with their own particular share in his creative, redemptive, and sanctifying work. Everyone who has studied and acted on this letter knows that it will continue to attract and guide countless new co-workers to the Church"s mission," the preface states.
Emphasizing the importance which the Ad Hoc Committee on Stewardship accords to communicating with young adults, the new preface says: "This pastoral letter speaks eloquently to youth, whose idealism and energy are needed and welcome in the challenge of stewardship. Stewardship can lead youth and young adults to a more mature understanding of their lives as a vocation"as a call to serve Christ and the Church as a layperson, religious, deacon, or priest. When one accepts God"s gifts gratefully, the experience invariably leads to new depths of discerning how the Spirit leads people to a further response to God"s call."
In addition to the original text, the 10th anniversary edition of Stewardship: A Disciple"s Response includes the new preface, developed by the Bishops" Ad Hoc Committee on Stewardship chaired by Bishop Sylvester D. Ryan of Monterey, California. A Resource Manual published in 1996, and a bibliography, which was developed with the assistance of the International Catholic Stewardship Council are also included. It is available in both English (publication number 5-465) and Spanish (publication number 5-883) and the price is $9.95. To order copies, contact USCCB Publishing at 800-235-8722, Monday-Friday, 9:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Eastern time.