Meet The Director Of Stewardship
Greetings to you, the People of God in the Diocese of Evansville!
My name is Matt Potter, and I am the new Director of Stewardship for the Diocese of Evansville. I am quite pleased to be here and grateful to Bishop Siegel for his confidence in me.
I come to you from the Diocese of Cheyenne, Wyoming, where I spent the last nine years as the Director of Development and Stewardship, as well as the Executive Director of the Wyoming Catholic Ministries Foundation. Prior to that, I spent 23 years as an investment consultant in Cheyenne. Overall, my wife and I have lived in Cheyenne since 1984, raising a family and building a business before going to work for the church.
Speaking of the church, the bishop in Cheyenne who hired me was (now Arch)bishop Paul Etienne. We had a great run in Cheyenne before he was called to be the Archbishop of Anchorage, and recently the coadjutor Archbishop of Seattle.
Sherry and I have two daughters, Brianna Wheeler and Chandra Kleinhans. Both of them are married to good men, and both have beautiful children of their own. Brianna and her husband Corey have Roman, 7, and Claire, 5. Chandra and her husband Caleb have Oskar, 5, Cassius, 4, and Tallulah, 3. They all live in Cheyenne, and we expect to return regularly to visit them.
I will be contributing these columns about stewardship in The Message twice each month. My objective is to create a dialog regarding that often-misunderstood term. So many people regard “stewardship” as another way of saying “paying my fair share,” which, I guarantee, is not the meaning of it at all.
Let’s start with a definition. That’s easier said than done, however, because it takes some background to begin understanding what stewardship really means.
In 1992, The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a pastoral letter: “Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response.” The simple fact that the Bishops spent the time and energy to write the letter tells us how important they believed understanding stewardship was, and still is.
The title of the letter, equating stewardship with discipleship, is even more telling. If a disciple is a follower of Jesus, then stewardship is what a disciple does when she follows the Lord. That concept is a bit mind-boggling, and I will be expanding on this as we go along.
Father Andrew Kemberling, pastor of St. Vincent DePaul parish in Denver, is one of the most well-versed priests in the United States when it comes to stewardship. He wrote a book with Mila Glodava, his longtime Communications Director and friend, called “Making Stewardship a Way of Life”(Our Sunday Visitor publishing ©2009). This extraordinary work is chock-full of very practical information regarding stewardship in a parish. I highly recommend this book for everyone involved in parish life.
In his book, Father Andrew tells us that “Stewardship is a way of life….” He presents a “stewardship spirituality” rather than a theology. He goes on to say that “theology is like an order of ideas that you can keep in your head, but in spirituality there is a group of actions that are generated from your heart” (p. 12).
What a beautiful way to describe the difference between theology and spirituality!
Where, then, is the definition of stewardship that I promised? It’s there, or at least part of it is there.
First, stewardship is discipleship. As stewards of the gifts given to us by God, we are followers of Jesus Christ. If you practice stewardship, you follow the Lord.
Second, stewardship is a way of life, not a program. It is something we practice day in and day out.
That should clear things up, don’t you think? I’ll be working on making it clearer as we travel down this road together.
Now that I’m in Evansville, I’d love to chat with you. Send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for reading.
Matt Potter is Director of Stewardship for the Diocese of Evansville.