Managing Money Responsibly in Light of Catholic Teachings
Participation in financial ministry program grows close to 500% in one and one half years.
"I strongly believe that how we use and manage our money is a faith issue. God expects us to be good stewards, and a parish program enlightening parishioners on the Catholic perspective of money and the principles of good financial management is much needed.... I'm concerned that families will opt out of a Catholic education if their debt is too high, and I see that this program can help them to make the right choices regarding their children."
Father John Kuzmich, Pastor of St Vincent's Parish
The need it meets
Consumerism is a real strain not only on bank accounts, but on families, marriages, and individual parishioners' pursuit of holiness. Veritas Financial Ministries teaches people to manage their money according to Catholic principles, building spiritually and materially on the rock of faith, responsibility, and good sense.
Where it came from
In the personal study of the Catechism and of Sacred Scripture, financial expert Phil Lenahan saw how the Church's teachings deal with money in common sense and practical way; he wanted to share his insights with others. Phil volunteered as a budget counselor at his parish where he saw the financial strain many families experienced.
While working as CFO of Catholic Answers, Lenahan began to write for a number of Catholic publications. In 2005, he began working with Our Sunday Visitor to develop the materials for the 7 Steps to Becoming Financially Free Group Study and to launch Veritas Financial Ministries.
How it works
The small group study is a 6 week program with 90-minute weekly sessions. It is based on a written text, "The Seven Steps to Becoming Financially Free", which combines personal experiences with catechetical training and financial counseling on topics such as:
- Developing a closer relationship with the Lord
- Strengthening your marriage and family life
- Getting out of debt
- Paying for your children's education
- Managing your money more effectively
- Buying your own home
- Investing in your future
Small group leaders also receive a Leader's Kit with easy instructions on how to start, lead and grow a small group.
For additional group leader training, Lenahan speaks to parish or diocesan groups in a 5-hour training program, a series of talks and workshops teaching people how to lead a small group effectively.
At St. Vincent's parish, a pilot group of 16 people multiplied to 75 people in 4 groups in 18 months - past participants benefited so significantly that they volunteered to start up new groups. Some of the benefits they experienced were:
Strengthened marriages. Money is often a point of conflict in marriages. Couples learn to communicate better about their finances.
Reduced consumerism. The participants pay off debts, are empowered to prioritize where their money goes, and are taught to live within their means.
Better stewardship of time and resources. Many participants start to invest more in their parishes and in their children's education, less in entertainment.
Deeper walk of faith. They come closer to God and to the Church's teachings in the Bible and the Catechism. Some begin going to daily Mass and more frequent confession.
Good small group leaders. They don‚Äôt have to be experts in financial matters, but they do need to have a passion for the program. Each group should have 12-15 participants. Several groups can be going at one time if there are enough leaders.
Training material for group leaders. They can order the parish leader‚Äôs kit (manual and DVD) from Our Sunday Visitor at the Veritas web site. http://www.veritasfinancialministries.com/index.asp
Support from the pastor. Some pastors have promoted the program by asking couples to give their testimony at Mass (around the time when the topic of stewardship comes up).
How to implement it
Personally invite a lay person to lead the program in the parish. People who are interested in becoming small group leaders should contact Veritas at email@example.com.
Promotion, directly and through lay people. The Leader's Kit has promotional materials. The web site also offers a preview video that can be viewed at this link: http://7steps.osv.com/OSV_flashemail.html.
The lay leader should schedule a seminar and a small group training session. It is highly recommended that the diocese and parishes collaborate when holding small group leader training. It makes the training of small group leaders more effective, and reduces the cost to each parish. A good goal is between 15 and 30 potential small group leaders at the leader training.
Invite past participants to start up their own small groups to give what they have received.
Fr. John Kuzmich is pastor of
St. Vincent de Paul.