Good Shepherd Church in Alexandria received the Archbishop Thomas J. Murphy Award Oct. 2 at the International Catholic Stewardship Council (ICSC) 2016 Annual Conference in New Orleans, for its outstanding work in Christian stewardship formation. The award is given to parishes in honor of the late Archbishop of Seattle, who died in June 1997. The award commemorates his promotion of Christian stewardship.
Father Thomas P. Ferguson, moderator of the curia and pastor of Good Shepherd Church, accepted the award on behalf of the parish.
He said the spirit of stewardship has been part of the parish’s tradition for the past 50 years.
“It’s almost like a lifetime achievement award for Good Shepherd Parish,” he said.
“We were grateful and we were humbled to be recognized by the ICSC with the award,” said Father Ferguson. “We also were very grateful to receive the award on behalf of all our parishioners who are here at Good Shepherd today, and … the whole tradition of stewardship that has been built up in the parish since the beginning.”
Claudia Fiebig, pastoral associate at Good Shepherd, said the award was a great honor but it focuses the attention elsewhere.
“It was humbling to stand there and receive the award knowing there are very worthy people to receive this award,” she said.
Jeanne Combos, diocesan director of the annual appeal programs, former ICSC board member, and a Good Shepherd parishioner, had encouraged the parish to apply for the award. Fiebig said the parish considered applying for two years.
“We spent time looking at the requirements and talking to our ministry leaders to make sure we had enough to qualify,” said Fiebig.
Some requirements include detailing the effectiveness of the stewardship committee, commitment and growth over five years, stewardship education, annual stewardship renewal and communication.
“We look at it as gratitude for the gifts we’ve been given,” said Fiebig of the award. “We have been blessed as individuals and as a parish and understand all we have been given comes from God.”
Gratitude for those gifts is how Good Shepherd promotes stewardship at their parish, said Fiebig. “We ask people to share their gifts in the ways they can to the best of their ability.”
The award plaque will be displayed in a prominent place, according to Fiebig.
Good Shepherd was invited to give a presentation as part of the stewardship conference. Fiebig said the presentation was multi-faceted and the purpose was to share ideas with other parishes.
Fiebig said Father Ferguson spoke about the spirituality of the parish and how the award is “not just a snapshot of the last year. It represents 51 years of the life of the parish.”
The presentation also included information about the Small Acts of Mercy (SAM) Weekend Oct. 29-30. Fiebig said there will be a healing Mass, campout for homelessness, a speaker on homelessness, super service Saturday and a stewardship ministry fair after all the Masses.
Janice Spollen, business manager at Good Shepherd, spoke on how to inform parishioners about the financial health of the parish.
“Lorraine Monaco and Adriana Fernandez, members of the communication team at Good Shepherd, spoke on our use of traditional and new media to reach people where they are, and how they get the word out and provide parishioners with the information they might need to have,” Fiebig said.
Good Shepherd Church takes a different approach to the stewardship concepts of time, talent and treasure, according to Fiebig.
“We try to encourage people to pray, learn, serve and participate,” she said. “Prayer always comes first.”