Catholic Herald Staff
Tom Corcoran and his pastor, Fr. Michael White, were seeking out new ideas to address the “religious consumerism” they were experiencing in their ministry at Church of the Nativity in Timonium, Maryland. Through their search, they were led to experience and learn what was working for Pastor Rick Warren at Saddleback Church in California, and to desire to translate it into their Catholic parish.
As the pair doubled down, their prioritizing of Scripture, hospitality, reaching out to the lost and engaging church members in small groups began to give fruit. Weekend Masses were intentionally invested in through layers of welcoming, young children’s ministry and challenging those attending Mass to take responsibility for their personal faith and involvement in the mission of the Church. Resistance to change was real, but so was their conviction that a new path needed to be forged for fruitfulness.
“Rebuilt” is the book Fr. White and Corcoran wrote to share what they experienced and learned in awakening the faithful, reaching the lost and making church matter.
Tom Corcoran will be the keynote speaker at the Diocese’s 17th Annual Stewardship Day on Monday, May 20, at the YMCA Camp St. Croix in Hudson.
Having served in various roles in the parish setting, Corcoran will share their Rebuilt model for helping parishes grow weekend attendance, increase the offertory, attract volunteers, build people’s faith and improve the parish’s overall morale and spirit.
Steve Tarnowski, director of Stewardship and Development, has seen firsthand the increased need parishes have for the tools and resources Corcoran can offer. When he started working for the Diocese of Superior in 1988, there were 37,000 families registered in parishes.
“Today,” he said, “We’re talking about 24,000 households. There is a big, huge need for working with building disciples, getting people back and engaged in their parishes. There is a thirst there that every parish in our diocese should be paying attention to.
“Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in doing Church, but we need to reach out beyond the parish community and call people in through outreach and to do more to engage parishioners,” he said.
The invited speaker is behind what has been a “wildly successful program,” one that Tarnowski believes is “what our parishes at this time need: evangelization and discipleship.”
Giving of time, talent and treasure will flow out of a person’s discipleship, something Tarnowski sums up, “Stewardship is an expression of discipleship.”
The Rebuilt story and program is being used nationally and the diocesan leader hopes will be a turning point in Northwest Wisconsin as well.
While the Stewardship Day event is specifically geared toward pastors and parish leaders, Tarnowski extends the invitation to any parishioner wanting see holiness in their local churches through increased interest and efforts in forming and transforming disciples.
As part of the seminar, funded in part by the Catholic Services Appeal and Catholic United Financial, participants will receive a copy of “Rebuilt.” Lunch is also included in the requested $10 donation.
The book looks at the needed paradigm shift from the moment of baptism through a Catholic’s life in the Church, according the Tarnowski, “challenging people to go beyond just going to Mass.”
Tarnowski said that attendance for the 2018 event was “really good – 70 people.” They are hoping for at least that many May 20.
He said that the Hudson location might prove challenging for some in the diocese, but noted that it was determined based on Corcoran’s availability and travel schedule. Tarnowski added that the newer YMCA Camp St. Croix Center is “a really nice conference center, scenic and picturesque.”
The event, which runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., will end with the announcement of the Spirit of Stewardship Award winner and recognition of distinguished nominees.
A registration form is available at catholicdos.org/stewardship. Contact Tarnowski with questions at 715-394-0223 or .