The Archbishop Thomas J. Murphy Award is presented to a parish for its outstanding work in Christian stewardship formation in honor of the late Archbishop Thomas J. Murphy. Archbishop Murphy was an ardent supporter of ICSC and a passionate promoter of Christian stewardship. He died in June 1997, and this award is a fitting tribute to his memory.The 2015 Archbishop Thomas J. Murphy Award is presented to:The Church of the Blessed SacramentWichita, KansasIn the late 1920’s, Wichita was quickly becoming known as the “Air Capital of the World” because of its burgeoning aviation industry. The expanding economy attracted new residents to the city and many young Catholic families made the College Hill neighborhood their home. On July 3, 1927, a new parish, The Church of the Blessed Sacrament, was formed with Father Thomas J. O’Sullivan named as the first pastor.In 1985, Bishop Eugene Gerber led the Diocese of Wichita on an intentional journey to live stewardship as a way of life. Rooted in the pillars of hospitality, prayer, formation, and service, the Catholic faithful in the diocese were asked to share generously of their time, talent and treasure. Some of the earliest expressions of this generosity at Blessed Sacrament included the retiring of debts in a timely fashion, the emergence of lay leadership in the parish and diocese; and possibly the most powerful expression of generous stewardship, the establishment on November 4, 1983, of the parish’s Perpetual Adoration Chapel, the first in the Diocese of Wichita.Over the past five years, under the direction of Father John Jirak, the parish has made a very deliberate effort to return to the roots of the stewardship way of life. The revitalization has been inspired through the call to a New Evangelization. With a continued focus on stewardship, Blessed Sacrament has been grappling to connect the tenets of the New Evangelization with the stewardship way of life. The personal, passionate relationship with Christ inspired by the ardor, methods, and expression of the New Evangelization is measurably revitalizing the parish.The Church of the Blessed Sacrament now has more than 1,100 registered families, 100 new families over the past year, more than 70 ministries, and 425 children in the parish school. The parish has a full time stewardship coordinator and a New Evangelization task force that promotes the stewardship way of life invigorated by embracing the call to the New Evangelization.
The US Bishops Pastoral Letter on Stewardship tells us that a steward is one who receives God’s gifts gratefully, cultivates them responsibly, shares them lovingly and in justice, and returns them with increase to the Lord. These 4 attributes of a steward match up with 4 areas of focus for both individual Catholics and the parish: we receive God’s gifts gratefully through prayer and worship focused on thanksgiving; we cultivate them responsibly through formation and education focused on learning more about stewardship and how to be better stewards; we share our gifts lovingly and in justice when we share them with others especially the less fortunate; and we can return them with increase to the Lord by giving adequately to the Lord’s instrument here on earth, our Church. We will detail ideas for how parishes can lead efforts to do this in the following tabs.