We have 200 people in seating for 150!’ So said His Lordship Bishop Francis Alleyne OSB, addressing participants of the National Catholic Stewardship Conference in the packed conference
hall of St. Paul’s Pastoral Centre, Vryheid’s Lust, ECD. The Conference, which was organised by the Diocesan Stewardship Council of Guyana, took place from March 15th- 16th. Over 200 people, coming from the length and breadth of Guyana, as well as a contingent of ten persons (including two priests) from neighbouring Suriname, took part in the conference.
The Conference started on Saturday, March 15th with Morning Prayer, followed by the welcome by Mr. Rock Beharry of the Stewardship Council, and opening remarks by Bishop Francis Alleyne.
The first presenter was Mr. Michael Murphy, Executive Director of the Interna-tional Catholic Stewardship Council (ICSC). In an informative and inspiring talk on ‘The Spirituality of Stewardship’, Mr. Murphy said that Stewardship is about living the Gospel everyday, and putting the Eucharist into action. He elaborated on the three Eucharistic themes of Covenant, Conversion, and Communion as being basic to our Catholic understanding of Stewardship. He concluded by saying that Stewardship is not complicated, it just requires remem-bering our covenant relationship, being willing to open our hearts, and remember-ing that we are part of a communion living the Gospel day by day.
The Most Reverend Joseph Harris, CSSp, Archbishop of Port of Spain, was the second speaker. He gave a powerful pres-entation ‘On Being Church Today’. Archbishop Harris spoke of a new model of Church. He said the model of Church we are accustomed to is the hierarchical, top down model. This model has many disad-vantages, so he proposed another model, where the bishop is not on top, he is at the side. This model allows people to talk to each other far more easily. He spoke of a healthy leaf as having veins criss-crossing, with sap flowing all around. He said that this means that everybody can be included, and that everyone is bringing their gifts to ensure the Church lives, and that is Stewardship.
Archbishop Harris elaborated on the new model of church, and the qualities it requires of us. He spoke of the four marks of the Church (the Church is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic). He said that this is true, but in today’s world, because the world is changing, the marks have to be tweaked a little bit for Church to be rele-vant. He then went on to elaborate on the new marks of the Church today: Imagination, Availability, Inclusivity and Martyrdom.
These Plenary Sessions were followed by Workshop Sessions in the afternoon. The workshop sessions were: ‘Who says you can’t?’ – Preparing Cantors for Liturgy, by Bro. Paschal Jordan OSB; ‘Performing our duties with diligence” by the Diocesan Finance Council; ‘Media as Ministry, Mission and Vocation’, by Mr. Gabriel Lall and Ms. Samanthani Singh; ‘Love Your Neighbour’ Catholic Social Teaching by Ms. Melinda Janki; ‘Discovering your Natural Talents’ – Living your Strengths, by the Diocesan Stewardship Council, ‘Protecting God’s Children’- the Virtus Programme, by the Family & Life Commission; and ‘Caring for the Sick’ by Fr. Oliver Farnum.
The Conference continued on Sunday, March 16th with Mass at 8 am, which was celebrated by Bishop Francis Alleyne OSB, along with Fr. Shawn Daley SFM, and Fr. Karel Choennie from Suriname. This was followed by the presentation “The Characteristics of a Stewardship Parish” by Mr. Murphy. Next were Deacon Mike James and Mrs. Maria Diaz-James who gave a profound presentation on ‘The Word of God in Stewardship” and “Biblical Animation of all Pastoral Activities.” Their presentation began with the Enthroning of the Bible, the Word of God. This consisted of processing with the Bible, and placing it in a place of honour, with prayer and sing-ing. By enthroning the Sacred Scriptures, parishioners and families show that God is present and active through his Word.
Before lunch there was the Introduction to Parishes and Countries, where the partici-pants from across the country were introduced. During the introduction, Bishop Francis showed the location of each partici-pating community on a map.
The contingent from Suriname was specially welcomed, and they sang a Surinamese song. The Guyanese reciprocated by singing ‘Welcome Neighbour” to the tune of ‘Morning Neighbour.”
The conference contin-ued with the Workshop Sessions in the after-noon, and concluded with closing remarks by Bishop Francis and the Evening prayer.
Below are the activities that took place at the conference:
Morning Presentations were as follows:
|Mr. Michael Murphy
International Catholic Stewardship Council (ICSC)
The Spirituality of Stewardship Download
The Characteristics of a Stewardship Parish Download
|Most Reverend Joseph Harris, C.S.Sp
Archbishop of Port of Spain,
|On Being Church Today
|Deacon Mike James
General Secretary, AEC
Maria Diaz- James
AEC and CELAM ABP Committees
|The Word of God in Stewardship Download
Afternoon Workshops were as follows:
Who says you can't?
-Preparing Cantors for the Liturgy
|Bro. Paschal Jordon, OSB|
|Love Your Neighbour|
|Media as a Ministry, Mission, Vocation|
|Performing Our Duties with Diligence Download
-Temporal & Financial Management
|Diocesan Finance Council|
|Discovering Your Natural Talents Download||Diocesan Stewardship Council|
|"The Word of God in Stewardship" & "Biblical Animation of all Pastoral Activites"||Deacon Mike James
|Registration and Accomodation||755,000|
|Rental of Chairs||47,000|
|Meals / Accomodation (St. Pauls)||945,400|
|Airfare for Presenters from T&T||178,600||1,341,654|
|Outstanding registration fees||124,500|
|Deficit funded by the Diocese||429,154|