The "Father of Stewardship"
Msgr. Thomas McGread
This spring, we said goodbye to perhaps the most influential advocate for stewardship as a way of life. On Monday, April 1, 2013, Msgr. Thomas McGread died at the age of 84.
Msgr. McGread has been called the “Father of Stewardship,” and that title carries more than a little merit. Most of the efforts and developments in stewardship as a way of life throughout the country can be traced directly back to Msgr. McGread and the work he started at his parish of St. Francis of Assisi in Wichita, Kan., in the 1960s.
Msgr. McGread was born in Omagh, County Tyrone, Ireland on Dec. 5, 1928, and he was ordained a priest at All Hallows College in Dublin, Ireland on June 21, 1953. Later that year, he was assigned the position of associate pastor at St. Patrick Parish in Parsons, Kan. Over the next few years, he served as associate pastor for two other parishes, and as pastor of two more in the Diocese of Wichita before being named pastor of St. Francis of Assisi in 1968. He continued to serve as pastor at St. Francis of Assisi until retiring in 1999.
It was at this parish that Msgr. McGread’s vision of stewardship as a way of life began to thrive — from there, it spread through Catholic parishes and communities all over the country and throughout the world, as it continues to do today. This vision views stewardship as a spiritual, biblically based principle that begins with conversion of heart and translates into a lifestyle of service.
Msgr. McGread broke stewardship down into three equally important components — time, talent and treasure. Monsignor taught his parishioners the importance of using our personal gifts in each of these areas, as well as the importance of giving these gifts back to God.
St. Francis of Assisi became one of the most dynamic and vibrant parishes in the country, and Catholic parishes all over the U.S. have followed the example of Msgr. McGread and the parishioners of St. Francis of Assisi.
Msgr. McGread was also involved in the drafting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop’s pastoral letter, Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response, in 1992. He spoke about his message of stewardship at parishes and dioceses around the country.
Msgr. McGread’s concepts and teachings serve as the model for our stewardship efforts here at our parish, and it is the same model that is successfully followed by Catholic parishes across the country and the world. Though we will truly miss this great visionary, Monsignor’s influence and legacy will live on as we continue to live the stewardship way of life.