According to Otto, parishes can access the study guide by going to the diocesan website, www.gbdioc.org, and typing “exploring stewardship” in the search engine.
Parishes outside the diocese can download the material for $17.84 at www.PastoralPlanning.com and at www.CatholicLifeandFaith.com. The Green Bay Diocese earns a 33 percent royalty on all sales, according to Bill Huebsch of PastoralPlanning.com.
“Exploring a Life of Stewardship” consists of a four-page facilitator’s guide and six chapters or sessions. The session titles include:
• Joy-filled Managers;
• Grateful Hearts-Generous Spirits;
• Constant Communication;
• Make Me a Servant;
• Investing in Heavenly Treasures;
• The Work of a Lifetime.
Each session follows a format that begins with a welcome, greeting and opening prayer. The sessions are intended to last 90 minutes with suggested groups of eight people. The facilitator’s guide gives a comprehensive outline of how each meeting should unfold.
According to Otto, the resource guide came about during a discussion with Mark Mogilka, director of the diocesan Stewardship and Pastoral Services Department. “We were brainstorming on how we could serve parish leaders with resources and things we might be able to provide to them” to promote stewardship. Offering a written resource was ideal, she added, “because it could be provided to parishes at no charge. It’s funded through the Bishop’s Appeal.”
She said the resource not only provides information and education on stewardship, it can “challenge people and lead them, perhaps, to conversion in some small way … to maybe look at their own lives and do some self-reflection.”
Otto explained that the booklet’s small-group process is modeled after the one used by Renew International known as “observe-judge-act.”
“It calls members of the small group to not only participate in a faith-sharing process but also to make small but concrete steps towards becoming better stewards of prayer, service and sharing,” she added.
This is not the first time Otto has published a resource on stewardship. Her first book, written in 2002, was titled “Fundraising and Fellowship: Exciting Failsafe Ideas for Youth Ministry.”
Her new publication, however, required a “seal of approval” by the diocese, since it will be used as a parish resource.
“This is the first time I actually had an imprimatur,” said Otto, a Latin term used by the church which means “let it be printed.” An imprimatur is given by the diocesan bishop. The booklet also received a “nihil obstat” (meaning “nothing stands in the way”) from Fr. John Doerfler, diocesan chancellor and vicar general, who explained the significance of both official declarations.
“The granting of the nihil obstat and the imprimatur does not imply agreement with the opinions or statements expressed in the work. Rather it signifies that nothing has been found contrary to the Catholic faith,” said Fr. Doerfler.
He explained that when a request is received by the diocese for an imprimatur, the material is forwarded to a “censor” who reviews it. A censor is someone who has the theological expertise suitable for judging whether or not material is contrary to the faith, he added.
“Because I have a doctorate in theology, I sometimes serve as the censor. Other times we may send it out to another theologian,” said Fr. Doerfler.
Once the censor deems that there is nothing in the book contrary to the Catholic faith, the nihil obstat is granted. “Then the work is forwarded to the (bishop). He may or may not require that changes be made to the work,” added Fr. Doerfler. With the bishop’s approval, the book receives his imprimatur.
According to Fr. Doerfler, five books have received Bishop David Ricken’s approval in the past three years.
Otto added that publication of the stewardship material comes at an opportune time.
“The topic of stewardship, especially in light of Bishop Ricken’s pastoral letter, is an important thing for us to consider,” she said. Stewardship is very much a part of Bishop Ricken’s pastoral plan laid out in his letter, “Parishes: Called to be Holy, Fully Engaged, Fully Alive,” added Otto, “And this is just another resource for parishes to use in light of that.”