Over 55 Years of Catholic Collaboration
It was July 1962. Cardinal Joseph Ritter, Archbishop of St. Louis, had invited a group of people to join him for dinner. Included in that group were two key figures: Bishop Albert Zuroweste from nearby Bellevile, Illinois and Fr. Paul Kaletta. The cardinal had recently appointed Fr. Kaletta to lead the Expansion Fund for the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
The evening took an unexpected turn when Fr. Kaletta pointed out a fresh perspective. Most dioceses and even parishes work independently from one another, rather than networking and exchanging best practice solutions. As they discussed fundraising strategies, having Belleville present for the conversation was valuable, but what inviting other nearby dioceses to participate in the exchange?
By the end of the evening, Fr. Kaletta had been charged not just with one fund, but an exploration of methods and means to connect with other dioceses.
1962 – 1990
Cardinal Ritter and Fr. Kaletta gathered a number of dioceses together around a common mission: to exchange ideas and share information about how they approached the challenges of funding the development of their dioceses, parishes, and schools. By late 1962, the National Council for Diocesan Support Programs was formed.
A year later, NCDSP incorporated and, in 1968, the new board of directors changed the name to National Catholic Stewardship Council. Bishop Zuroweste became the organization’s first Episcopal Moderator.
The NCSC began holding annual conferences in cities across the United States. Hundreds of pastors, diocesan leaders, professional firms, Catholic associations, and religious congregations came together for presentations, workshops, and liturgies. These conferences featured timely topics by knowledgeable speakers offering information from their practical, lived experience.
A Theology of Stewardship
Beyond practical solutions, NCSC strove to identify a more spiritual and theological approach to the concept of Christian stewardship. They wanted to develop a philosophy which moved beyond money and finances into an integrated way of life.
For the 1991 NCSC Conference in Chicago, leaders prepared a program that included a great emphasis on stewardship as a way of life. Up until this point, the organization had primarily been diocesan-driven. At the 1991 Conference, NCSC implement tracks specifically for parishes, offering practical value for their own stewardship efforts.
Less than a year later, the United States bishops’ ad hoc committee on stewardship, led by Archbishop Thomas Murphy of Seattle, began to develop a pastoral letter on Christian stewardship. The committee also included the NCSC Episcopal Moderator at the time, Bishop James Keleher. The final draft was revealed in part to the NCSC membership at its 1992 annual conference. Two weeks later, the U.S. bishops overwhelming approved the pastoral letter Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response.
1991 – Present
A Canadian representative joined the board in 1991, making NCSC an international organization. The first international stewardship conference occurred in Rome in 1998. A year later, the Board of Directors voted to change the organization’s name to the International Catholic Stewardship Council. To further the international mission, the 2002 annual conference was held in Toronto, Canada.
In 2020, ICSC celebrates it’s 58th conference. The organization continues to grow and change, striving to promote and support Catholic teaching on stewardship as a Gospel-inspired expression of how we live our lives in response to the call of Jesus Christ.