St. Philip Neri reaps the rewards of stewardship

FORT MILL—St. Philip Neri has made stewardship a major priority in recent years, and they reaped the benefits in late October.

The church won an award for excellence in materials used to promote parish stewardship from the International Catholic Stewardship Council during the 58th annual Stewardship Conference held in Nashville.

“It says a lot for them as a parish and for the community that they have established and worked hard to build up,” said Amanda Kepshire, associate director of stewardship and mission advancement for the Diocese of Charleston. “St. Philip Neri offers a great model of what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus and steward of the gifts we’ve been given.”

Stewardship has become more important at the rapidly growing parish as more people move into the area. St. Philip Neri currently serves 2,800 households, has a large religious education program and offers more than 50 ministries.

Lynda Curry, business manager at the parish, said a stewardship committee was formed two years ago with the help of their pastor, Oratorian Father John Giuliani, and other parish leaders. The committee has come up with a set of stewardship materials designed to help parishioners learn more about their faith community, what it offers and what they can do to help. The parish dedicates the entire month of October to stewardship.

The award-winning materials include a comprehensive book, “Our Ministry of Stewardship,” which offers a full description of the ministries, activities and educational programs offered at the parish. It also helps parishioners learn more about the scale of the parish outreach, including data about the number of sacraments offered each year, Mass schedules, and the social outreach programs.

After they peruse the book, members are asked to fill out and return a “commitment card” showing how they will give back to the parish. It includes the options of “sharing our time,” which includes attending Mass weekly and daily prayer; “sharing our talents,” which includes active participation in at least one ministry; and “sharing our treasure,” which involves financial support. People can commit to as many as they choose.

Parishioner Natalie Burt has served on the stewardship committee for more than a year. She said the ministry book took about six months to put together, and is an important tool because it helps parishioners learn about the full scope of what St. Philip Neri offers.

“I have been a parishioner here for 15 and a half years, and even I was amazed to find out about some of the ministries in place at our parish,” Burt said. “What is most exciting about winning this award is that it enables us to offer outreach to parishes around the world. We can serve as an example to others of what they can accomplish with stewardship at their parish. We’re talking about what true stewardship means. It’s more than money — it’s about trying to cultivate a life and heart of service in whatever way God wants to use you.”

File photo: St. Philip Neri Church in Fort Mill.