By Anna Schulten
The North Star Catholic
The 2020 St. Francis Stewardship Awards were celebrated virtually on October 8, 2020. This year, the Archdiocese of Anchorage-Juneau celebrated 35 individuals for their lives of stewardship to our church and the local community. This celebration completes 15 years of honoring the stewards of our parishes.
St. Francis Stewardship Awards were founded on the occasion of Archbishop Francis T. Hurley’s retirement from the Archdiocese of Anchorage after 25 years of faithful service to the people. Then-Archbishop Roger L. Schwietz, OMI, announced the institution of the St. Francis Awards in honor of Archbishop Hurley’s patron saint. The St. Francis Stewardship Awards continue today as a unique celebration and opportunity for the community to gather in a shared expression of appreciation.
Each year, beginning in the summer months, all Catholics are invited to nominate a peer or parish organization that inspires them with their service. After the nomination period is complete, the Archdiocesan Stewardship Committee gathers to read the anonymized nominations and select a handful of recipients for the award. However, this year, the community discerned to forego any competitive nature of selection and instead to celebrate all honorees for their stewardship.
During the event, Archbishop Andrew Bellisario, C.M., greeted those who joined the livestream. Deacon Jim Lee provided a keynote presentation on the meaning of Christian stewardship in our world today. During the event’s main phase, emcees Theresa Austin, Annabelle Austin, and Antonia Duran shared each honoree’s story and their impact on both parish and civic communities. We are also grateful to the Stewardship Committee and the Office of Development staff, who made this event during these unusual times possible.
Because the Archdiocese of Anchorage-Juneau had not yet merged during the nomination period, this year’s honorees are all from the original Anchorage archdiocese. However, to continue to celebrate the spirit of St. Francis and honor those who care for our communities with the gift of their entire lives, we are beginning a new column in this newspaper called “Saints Among Us,” to celebrate a few stewards every month. Anyone is welcome to nominate a steward online: archdioceseofanchorage.org/sfsa. See the “Saints Among Us” column for more information.
The 2020 event’s recording is available on the Archdiocesan Facebook page and website. The “credits” section of the video includes a scrolling list of all the nominations we’ve had over the years. Over 350 individuals, couples, and community groups have been nominated for the St. Francis Stewardship Awards these past 15 years.
We invite you to pray with us for these stewards and the many more whose lives of quiet dedication continue to shape the Archdiocese of Anchorage-Juneau into a living community of love and hope for all:
O God, by whose word all things are sanctified, pour forth your blessing upon our stewards. May we serve you with the gift of our lives, as we are commanded in the words of St. Teresa of Avila: “Christ has no body now on earth, but yours. No hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which the Compassion of Christ must look out on the world. Yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good. Yours are the hands with which He is to bless His people.” Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.