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Coaches to help parishes with stewardship

Julie Poore of the Parish of Washago-Price’s Corners speaks at a training session for stewardship coaches. Photo by Michael Hudson

By Carolyn Purden

The diocese is looking for six parishes that would be willing to commit to a year-long pilot program in stewardship. The program will provide a volunteer coach who will work with the parish to achieve their stewardship goals.

Peter Misiaszek, the diocese’s director of Stewardship Development, says the program will focus on aspects of stewardship such as time and talent, proportionate giving, volunteer development, legacy giving and social outreach.

There are six volunteer coaches, who are currently being trained. All have been successful in leading stewardship campaigns in their own parishes. Over the course of a year, each will work with a parish to help evaluate needs, recommend best practices, set objectives and recommend a suitable program of action using existing diocesan programs and resources.

Until now, the diocese had waited for parishes to come to it with a problem, and then fixed it, says Mr. Misiaszek. In such a crisis situation, he says, it became much harder to put an effective stewardship strategy in place.

Under the new initiative, the diocese is identifying parishes to enter the program ahead of time. “The approach that we’re taking now is the difference between waiting until the patient is sick and coming to us and investing in health before they are sick,” he says. “This program is about investing in healthy parishes so they become healthier, as opposed to dealing with parishes that are experiencing significant financial hurdles.”

If parishes wish to take part in the program, they are asked to contact Mr. Misiaszek at or 415-363-6021 ext. 246.

He warns parishes that if they are selected, they will be asked to make specific commitments. First, they must follow the program exactly for the full year, because it includes successful strategies that have already been tried and tested by the diocese. If modifications are needed, this will be decided after the pilot phase.

Second, the parish priest will need to take an active leadership role. Third, there will need to be from three to six volunteers in the parish who will make the year-long commitment to work with the program.

Parishes best suited to the program, says Mr. Misiaszek, might already have a stewardship committee and be committed to outreach and FaithWorks. The leadership of those parishes must be supportive of stewardship and enthusiastic about the new initiative. “I also want a diversity of parishes so we can then move forward and say the program is adaptable for every circumstance in the diocese,” he says.