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By Roger Zotti (Reprinted from the Norwich Bulletin, October 17, 2001)

In the News: On July 2, Tim Smith became the Director of Stewardship Development for the Diocese of Norwich. Smith serves as a resource for understanding and implementing the principles of Christian stewardship for the diocese's 78 parishes. Before accepting the directorship, he was the Vice President and Controller for Eastern Savings and Loan in Norwich for sixteen years.

Stewardship Defined: Smith defined stewardship as the awareness that whatever gifts we have come from God. "We learn to receive those gifts gratefully and use them in an efficient, responsible manner," he said. Those gifts are shared with others, especially with the less fortunate. "Ultimately, you see, we return a portion of them to our Lord through our parish community or the community at large," he said. Smith emphasized that a person does not have to be Christian to engage in acts of stewardship.

Position: Smith said that the Director of Stewardship Development is a reactive position. Because of the decreasing number of priests in the Catholic Church, he said, "the laity can no longer rely solely on a pastor to deliver the sacraments, to be the parish's financial manager, and to oversee the physical plant." So Smith has a plan, which is to encourage a stewardship mentality among faithful by keeping them aware of and involving them in many activities that the parish priest no longer has time to perform. Also, he hopes to establish stewardship liaison committees within each parish.

Aim: Stewardship is a way of life that "seeks to bring some moral fabric into our day," Smith said. "It's aimed at wherever humanity exists." As an example, he mentioned the events of 11 September. After being rocked to our roots by those horrific events, Smith said, "we came to realize exactly how fragile life is and I think we recognized that life is a gift that can't be taken for granted." Personal pursuits were put on hold "and we began making contributions to the many charitable organizations that came to the front." For Smith, it proved stewardship exists within everyone.

Quotable: "One of my goals is to talk with Dr. Howard Bennett, the superintendent of parochial schools in the Norwich diocese, and ask if we can work a short window on stewardship into the school curriculum. I'd like someday to walk among a group of young Catholic students and say the word stewardship and have them respond by saying, 'Ah, right on! That's the S word.'"