By Matt Potter
Director of Stewardship
Special to The Message
75th Anniversary Reflection
I’m new in town.
If you’ve been following along my “Radical Joy” columns, you know that I only arrived in the Diocese of Evansville this past April. In order to better know our diocese, I regularly travel to visit pastors in our diocese. It brings me great joy to meet with these men and be welcomed into their parishes. At our first meeting, I often ask for and receive a tour of the church.
I love churches. Big ones, small ones, old ones, new ones – doesn’t matter. I have yet to visit a church in the Diocese of Evansville that failed to fill me with joy just walking through the door.
There are some churches so grand and beautiful that they simply take one’s breath away. I am personally partial to older churches, those with great stained glass, artwork and statuary.
There are other churches that don’t have that old world style but are nonetheless beautiful on their own. I can think of some of the churches built in the 1970s and 80s that are vastly different than those built a century or more ago. Their seating is different, the windows are different, and the sanctuaries are different.
I have a particular affinity for small churches. Often, they are in parishes without a resident priest; so it is incumbent upon the parishioners to provide maintenance and care of the church. It is rare to see peeling paint or an unkempt lawn at these small churches, and it is obvious that the people who attend Mass there love their church like nobody else can.
These churches are wonderful examples of faith-filled communities putting all their resources into building an appropriate place to worship God.
The Diocese of Evansville recently held its first-ever capital campaign, Stewards of God’s Grace, and the results were a smashing success. Each parish shared in the gifts made to the campaign, and there have been many outstanding parish projects funded with those gifts.
In each church that I visit, each project that I see, I am both struck with awe and filled with joy at the generosity of the people of God in the Diocese of Evansville.
I have pictured in my mind the German immigrants in Jasper laying the cornerstone of St. Joseph’s. In the same way, Catholics building their homes on the east side of Evansville committing to building new churches to take care of the sacramental needs of their burgeoning communities. Or the small group of farm families who knew how important it was to have a place to worship God with each other, then decided to pool their resources and get the job done.
This is stewardship epitomized, as the People of God committed their:
- Time in Prayer – We can be certain there was much prayer in each of those groups as they discerned the massive undertaking of building a new church or adding to an existing one. They needed God’s guidance, asked for it and received it.
- Talent – We can also be certain that there was much parishioner labor involved in the construction of these holy places. From planning committees to architects, engineers, skilled craftsmen, lawyers, accountants, building commissions and fundraisers, each project required a team of those willing to share their talents.
- Treasure – Here too, we can be certain that there was a great expenditure of funds to build these churches and to complete these projects, and they were all freely given to glorify God. All the money came from the pockets of parishioners.
Even before our diocese was formed, these faith-filled people came together, giving their time, talent and treasure to solidify their communities, pass along the Faith to their children, and by their actions tell the world how much they love God.
Happy anniversary to the Diocese of Evansville. 75 years of loving God. 75 years of stewardship.