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December 18, 2014

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Marlene Mulford: Office:(217) 698-8500
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Email: mmulford@dio.org

Bishop Appoints Father Charles Edwards Director of Stewardship and Discipleship

SPRINGFIELD — Bishop Thomas John Paprocki has appointed Father Charles Edwards as Director of Stewardship and Discipleship for the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, effective January 1, 2015. Father Edwards will continue as Pastor of St. Paul Parish in Highland, Immaculate Conception Parish, Pierron and St. Nicholas Parish, Pocahontas until June 30, 2015, when he will assume less demanding parochial duties so as to focus on the task of stewardship and discipleship.

In September, Bishop Paprocki and other diocesan officials visited the Diocese of Wichita to learn more about its nationally recognized stewardship model. Since that visit, Bishop Paprocki’s envisioned the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois could also become a diocese where people are deeply committed to a stewardship way of life.

“No one can do this alone. We will all need to work together with the help of God’s grace to succeed in these efforts,” said Bishop Paprocki. “It will be Father Edwards’ task to begin the process of education and formation in the stewardship and discipleship way of life, working with the priests, deacons, religious and laity at both the diocesan and parish levels.”

The Diocese of Wichita defines stewardship as “the grateful response of a Christian disciple, who recognizes and receives God’s gifts, and shares these gifts in love of God and neighbor.”  Its emphasis is on gratitude for gifts received from God, the Creator and giver of all good gifts, and the Christian disciple’s response of sharing the gifts of God’s creation in fulfillment of the two great commandments to love God and neighbor.

“I hope as I begin this ministry that I can help create this ‘fire’ here at home in our diocese,” said Father Edwards. “We will begin with ongoing formation of the clergy.”  

Father Edwards said a “stewardship and discipleship” spirituality conference will be held next March where the diocesan presbyterate will hear from presenters from the Wichita diocese. “The greatest challenge ahead is to remain patient and hope filled, as this journey and our goals will not be achieved overnight,” continued Father Edwards. “Our greatest blessing as we begin is that we are a wonderful diocese, which has a proven record of setting goals and achieving them. We are a strong Catholic diocese with over 145,000 lay members, and I pray each will open their hearts to the Holy Spirit and to the mission of this new stewardship and discipleship model and ministry.”

Bishop Paprocki also announced that the word “stewardship” will be dropped from the current Department of Financial Services, Stewardship and Development as well as from the Office for Stewardship and Development.

“The Wichita diocese has been living stewardship for more than 40 years,” Bishop Paprocki said. “They insisted repeatedly that stewardship is not primarily about money or fundraising, but about a way of life based on a committed relationship as an intentional disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ. For that reason, I am uncoupling the word ‘stewardship’ from our fundraising and development efforts and pairing it with the word ‘discipleship.’ ”

Father Edwards was ordained on May 10, 1986. He has served as Parochial Vicar: St. Elizabeth, Granite City, 1986-1987; St. Anthony of Padua, Effingham, 1987-1989; St. Mary, Quincy, 1989-1992. Pastor: St. John the Evangelist, Carrollton, 1992-1997. Parochial Administrator: All Saints, White Hall, 1993-1997. Director of Christian Formation: Quincy Notre Dame High School, 1997-2002. Parochial Administrator: St. Rose of Lima, Quincy, 1997-1998; St. Mary, Pittsfield, and Holy Redeemer, Barry, 1999. Pastor: St. Brigid, Liberty, and St. Thomas the Apostle, Camp Point, 1999-2002; Little Flower, Springfield, 2002-2007; DCCW Springfield Deanery Moderator, 2005-2007. Pastor: St. Paul, Highland, 2007-present. Parochial Administrator: St. Elizabeth, Marine, 2010-2011; Immaculate Conception, Pierron and St. Nicholas, Pocahontas, 2012-2013. Pastor: Immaculate Conception, Pierron and St. Nicholas, Pocahontas, 2013-present.

The Catholic Diocese of Springfield in Illinois is 129 parishes in 28 counties in central Illinois.