Lisa McArdleThe family prayer is an essential part of our faith".

Lisa McArdle is one of the co-founders of Catholic Stewardship Consultants (CSC). Through this project she uses a proven spirituality-based process that focuses on increasing the practice of stewardship.

Diego Zalbidea-April 10, 2023-Reading time: 6 minutes
Lisa McArdle

Lisa McArdle

Lisa McArdle is one of the co-founders of "Catholic Stewardship Consultants"(CSC) and currently serves as Vice President of Client Services. For over 25 years, Lisa and her husband, Eric McArdle, President of CSC, have worked with hundreds of parishes across the country on the many aspects of stewardship development. 

Lisa and her team at CSC work closely with parishes and dioceses, using a proven spirituality-based process that focuses on increasing the practice of stewardship. Together, Lisa and Eric are co-authors of the book Stewardship Success: A Practical Guide for Catholic Parishes, published in 2019. In addition she wrote in 2022 Stewardship Starts at Home. Since 2018, Lisa has been leading retreats on "Stewardship and the Family" in parishes across the United States. 

Lisa has been married to Eric for 28 years and they have five daughters ranging in age from 13 to 27, along with a son-in-law and three grandchildren. Their extended family also includes a total of 34 nieces and nephews, all but six of whom live in their hometown of Augusta, Georgia. Lisa is a member of the Catholic parish St. Mary on the Hill of Augusta and participates in various parish ministries.

Why does stewardship go beyond what happens on the parish grounds?

-In the past nearly 30 years of working with Catholic parishes throughout the United States, I have learned that many parishioners believe that their work as disciples is best done within the walls of the church. When they enter their parishes, parishioners put on their "stewardship hats" and when they leave their parishes they take them off. 

This could not be further from the truth. We are disciples of Christ every hour of every day, whether we are in our parishes or not. Being co-responsible and growing in holiness is done wherever we are and is not confined only to our parish precincts.

Why do we always associate stewardship with money?

-Unfortunately, the word "stewardship" has often been used in place of "fundraising" or "development". This association has misled many parishioners and led them to distrust when pastors try to guide them toward a holistic way of life based on stewardship. 

Stewardship simply means realizing that everything we have is an undeserved gift from our generous and good God, and wanting to give it back to him with gratitude. Of course, giving back our treasure is part of it, but no more important than giving back our time and talents. 

Those three T's - time, talent and treasure - should be equally represented. Often, our organization, Catholic Stewardship Consultants, has learned that when parishioners have a devoted prayer life, they realize the "true" meaning of stewardship and long to spend time with God in prayer. From there, they want to share their gifts with others in thanksgiving, whether in ministry or in family life. Finally, they are invited to give back their financial resources as well. After all, God has endowed each of us with the intelligence and skill necessary to earn a living. Without his gifts, we would not be able to earn a living.

Is stewardship really related to our vocation?

-Of course. By our Baptism we are all called to holiness. It is not just for Pope Francis, bishops, priests, deacons and religious men and women. As disciples, we all must "lean in" to what God calls us to do with our lives. After all, He gave us the gifts to make that plan possible. Moreover, His plan for our lives is always better than anything we can imagine ourselves. Whatever God asks of you, He will give you all the talent and grace necessary to carry it out.

Can you give us some examples of time management at home?

-Stewardship of time doesn't have to be done only while in church. There are countless ways you can incorporate it into your daily domestic church, and you probably already do. When you get up, before you even get out of bed, you can pray: the rosary, reading the Bible or the Liturgy of the Hours. While doing household chores, you can listen to podcasts (such as those on the Hallow app). Pray with your family before you eat and pray before you go to bed. 

The prayer plan does not have to be sophisticated; often the simplest methods work best, as they are manageable with chaotic family life.

What would you say to people who feel less talented than others?

-Always remember that God made each of us unique and that we are "wonderfully made". Remember also that no talent is too small or ordinary. Each of our talents - when done out of love for another person - is what living a stewardship lifestyle is all about. 

Of course, it may seem that some people have "great" talents: famous celebrities, singers, actors and professional athletes; however, all talents are necessary and all are gifts from God. Do not compare yourself, but rejoice and be thankful.

Why is treasury management the least attractive?

-Let's face it... No one wants to talk about money. Priests often avoid discussing the integral meaning of treasure sharing because of the responses they receive from their parish community. However, if the "treasure" part of stewardship is regularly incorporated into discussions in an integral way, change occurs. Parishioners learn that it is not "all about the money" and that, while money is a part of stewardship, since it is the result of using the talents God has given us, it is not the only part of stewardship. only part. 

Parishioners can learn to include God in their budget and also to desire to give to God, not out of obligation or guilt, but out of pure gratitude.

What kind of hospitality becomes the pillar of stewardship?

-Hospitality is the first pillar of stewardship for a reason: if parishioners don't feel welcome, how will you get them to attend Mass? If family members don't feel welcome in your homes, why would they want to spend time there? 

Welcoming others, as Christ welcomes us, is fundamental to stewardship. And I'm not just talking about using our manners and being polite. I'm talking about being open to welcome whomever God sends to our doors, whenever He sees fit. Being open to God's plan for our lives is crucial to living a lifestyle of stewardship.

Prayer is the second pillar of stewardship...

-When parishioners feel welcome and want to attend Mass, they can pray together. Likewise, when family members feel loved and welcome in their homes, they are receptive to praying together. 

Through conducting parish surveys over the past three decades with parishes across the United States, Catholic Stewardship Consultants (CSC) has found that, although most families attend Mass together and also for prayer and prayer before meals, more than 80 percent of spouses do not pray together and more than 80 percent of parents do not pray with their children. This can be a warning sign. Praying together, as a family, is an essential part of our faith. 

Often, we find that families feel pressured and worried that they don't know how to pray "correctly". Praying is simply talking to God as a friend, telling Him your worries and concerns, praising Him for all that He has blessed you with, etc. Start slowly with an Our Father and a Hail Mary and a Glory Be. In time, you can add intercessions or a decade of the rosary. Sow the seed and let your children see you pray as a couple and as parents. Then, when they grow up, they will emulate these traditions.

Can training prepare me to listen to God's dream for my life and say yes to it?

-Of course. Formation is the third pillar of stewardship. And, the better formed we are, the more clearly we will hear God's call for us and the more likely we will respond with a "yes". If we are formed in our faith and God gives us a special "tap" on the heart, we can pray and reflect and respond with a joyful yes, knowing that sharing our time, talent and treasure will help build His kingdom on Earth.

How can we identify with the Holy Family through service?

The fourth pillar of co-responsibility is service. Let's look at the Holy Family, especially St. Joseph. 

When we consider the life of St. Joseph we realize how often he obeys God, even at the expense of his own plans and preferences. Every episode in Joseph's life is a crisis. He discovers that the woman to whom he was betrothed is pregnant. He resolves to leave her silently, but then the angel of the Lord appears to him in a dream and explains Mary's pregnancy and its origin. Joseph then understands what is happening in the context of God's providence and takes Mary as his wife. Next, discovering that the child was in danger of death, Joseph took his mother and the baby on a perilous journey to an unknown country. Anyone who has been forced to move to a new city knows the anxiety Joseph must have felt, but Joseph went because God had commanded him to. Finally, Joseph desperately searches for his lost twelve-year-old son. He calmly brings the boy back home, and once again puts aside his human feelings and trusts in God's designs. 

What little we know about Joseph is that he experienced anguish, fear to the point of death, and a father's deepest anxiety. But in all these circumstances, he read what was happening to him as a theo-drama, not an ego-drama. This change of attitude is what made Joseph the patron of the universal Church. This is how God calls our families to live: we are to be servants of the Lord.

The authorDiego Zalbidea

Professor of Canon Property Law, University of Navarra, Spain

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