Bishop Morneau receives Christian Stewardship Award

ATLANTA — Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Robert Morneau was presented with the Christian Stewardship Award by the International Catholic Stewardship Council (ICSC) during the organization’s 55th annual conference Sept. 19.

Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Robert Morneau, center, is presented with the 2017 Christian Stewardship Award by Jim Kelley, left, director of development in the Diocese of Charlotte, N.C., and president emeritus of the ICSC Board of Directors, and Mary Ann Otto, pastoral minister at St. Mary Parish and St. Joseph Parish in Appleton. (Photo Courtesy of International Catholic Stewardship Council)

The event, held at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta Hotel, brought some 1,300 diocesan, school and parish staff members from around the world together to discuss ways to implement, promote and live stewardship.

The ICSC Christian Stewardship Award recognizes individuals or organizations for their unique and extraordinary witness to Christian stewardship as a way of life.

Bishop Morneau was introduced by Mary Ann Otto, former stewardship and special projects director for the Diocese of Green Bay, and Jim Kelley, director of development for the Diocese of Charlotte, N.C.

Upon presentation of the award, a video of hometown wishes was shown. It included messages from Bishop David Ricken, Norbertine Fr. Tim Shillcox, Bishop Morneau’s sister, Ann Hollenbach, and even Mark Murphy, president of the Packers.

Following the award presentation, Bishop Morneau addressed the assembly in the conference’s closing keynote.

He recalled a Latin saying he had seen carved into an archway at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., which translates to, “Teach Me Lord, Goodness, Discipline and Wisdom.”

He cautioned listeners that, “We are in danger of being hardened by evil — I am — day after day.” Those words, carved in stone, are the gifts that keep people from being hardened by evil, weakened by laziness and ignorant because of foolishness, he said.

Bishop Morneau went on to raise several models and mentors and their writings as examples of stewards and disciples including:

  • Robert Ellsberg: “All Saints.”
  • Jesuit Fr. Gregory Boyle: “Tattoos on the Heart.”
  • Frank Cunningham: “Vesper Time: The Spiritual Practice of Growing Older.”
  • David McCullough: “The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For.”
  • Michael Paul Gallagher: “Into Extra Time: Living Through the Final Stages of Cancer and Jottings Along the Way.”

He asked those gathered to think about the statements, “Whose are we? What do we value? Is it only by our possessions that we wish to be known? There is no U-haul behind a hearse.”

Before closing with the poem, “God’s Grandeur” by Gerard Manley Hopkins, Bishop Morneau noted, “Many people speak of a relationship with Jesus, but Jesus did not spend much time talking about himself. He spoke about bringing about the Kingdom,” he said.

“As the baptized, we are disciples of Jesus and stewards of the Kingdom. We are responsible for tending and growing the Kingdom by way of four split infinitives: receive God’s gifts gratefully, nurture God’s gifts responsibly, share God’s gifts justly and charitably, and return God’s gifts abundantly,” added Bishop Morneau.

ICSC has been in existence since 1962, with over 1,200 member parishes around the world. ICSC’s mission is to “promote and support Catholic teaching on stewardship by providing education and resources for dioceses, parishes and institutions of the Roman Catholic Church.” The 2017 conference in Atlanta also marked the 25th anniversary of the U.S. bishops’ pastoral letter, “Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response,” to which Bishop Morneau was a core contributor.

Boerschinger is communications coordinator at Resurrection Parish in Allouez.