Stewardship or giving to the Church isn’t a new idea to Fr. Maurice Nutt, C.Ss.R.
He now gives his life to the service of the Church as a priest, but after his father’s death when he was 3 years old, he watched his mother raise four boys while volunteering at and giving monetary donations to the Church.
“(Stewardship is) embedded in who I am as a person,” he said. “I witnessed my mother’s giving.”
A Redemptorist priest, Fr. Maurice is a member of a religious community whose primary ministry is preaching parish missions. He will be the keynote speaker at the Archdiocese of Milwaukee’s Spirituality of Stewardship Conference for leaders running from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Nov. 3 and again Nov. 4 at the Cousins Center. The program is identical both days, and Fr. Nutt will speak at 9:15 a.m. each day, and wrap up the conference at approximately 12:15 p.m.
Stewardship often comes to mind as a reference to monetary offerings, and while that is a part of stewardship, it’s not the only component. Fr. Maurice said stewardship is our response to God’s great love for us, and the justice and love we receive from God are our motives to give back to Him and His Church.
“Stewardship is not solely based on economic status, but an individual’s intention to contribute to the common good,” Fr. Maurice said. “It’s about giving from the heart.”
It’s also part of being the Body of Christ, he said. We are called to share in common all things, so when one part of the body suffers, all do. It’s important that in those situations, such as during recent natural disasters, we reach out to others in the community using our gifts, whether it’s a gift of treasure or other gifts and talents.
During his presentation at the conference, Fr. Maurice will give local leaders six suggestions about how to be more generous and how to be better stewards.
When it comes to parish stewardship, Pope Francis and other Church leaders have called parishes to move from being maintenance parishes that focus on just getting by to mission parishes. We are called to be a “Church with fire for service and worship and seeking those who are on the periphery, the poor and the marginalized,” said Fr. Maurice.
“If a parish is truly dynamic, it does not look at the inward Church only,” he said. “Good stewardship is not about that; it’s about going out and being a witness to the Church and going out to those in need.”
Fr. Maurice is the former director of the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana and was recently elected as the convener of the Black Catholic Theological Symposium, which means he will take on administrative duties of the organization.
The Black Catholic Theological Symposium is a national organization that was established in 1978 by a group of Black Catholic scholars to respond to a need to articulate the African American Catholic experience. The group publishes theological papers and a journal from various disciplines and supports young scholars who are a part of the organization. At its annual meeting, the group attends a local African American parish and meets with parishioners to hear their struggles and joys, which informs the group’s writing and research.
Fr. Maurice quotes Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians when talking about stewardship: “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)
Giving should make us cheerful, said Fr. Maurice.
“Joy comes from giving, when it becomes a way of life,” he said. “I find peace when I’m not looking towards myself, but looking toward others.”