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Stewardship Conference: Lessons for discipleship in troubled times


Southwest Kansas Catholic

Editor’s Note: Rather than condense the Stewardship Conference’s five 20-minute presentations into one- or two-paragraph snippets, the SKC is instead going to present in-depth articles in upcoming issues covering important topics discussed throughout the day-long event. Topics to be covered in upcoming issues: What to do if you are deported; Discipleship when coaching, when working with youth, while parenting; and how to get along with those with whom you disagree.


It’s not about the money

Stewardship has long been associated with the offering plate; being stewards of God’s gifts, after all, means sharing with others that with which you’ve been gifted.

Then, how do mass shootings enter into the stewardship picture?

The Stewardship Conference looks far beyond the offering plate, presenting ways for us to be better equipped to serve our Lord and each other.

And therein lies a sad reality. Nowadays, being better equipped to serve others means being prepared for violence.

At the Stewardship Conference Aug. 25, Deputy Steve Billinger of the Barton County Sheriff’s Office, shared a sad reality that hopefully will never hit home for those dozens of people in attendance.

His topic, “What to do if someone shows up with a gun,” was one of several presentations given at this year’s conference at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe. 

The annual conference is organized by Director of Stewardship, Eric Haselhorst. Sessions always manage to reflect the reality of the times, whether it is the tragedy of mass shootings, the how-tos of making social media videos for faith formation, or even how to get along with those you disagree—especially considering the political landscape. 



Tragically, the morning after Deputy Billinger discussed what to do in an “active shooter” situation, 15 people were shot while attending a video game tournament in Jacksonville, Fla. At press time, three people had died, including the assailant.

“This topic is so critical for all of us,” Deputy Billinger said prior to the most recent shooting. “The world has changed. You can even walk into an active shooter environment in a movie theater.

“...On Nov. 5, 2017, Devin Patrick Kelley went into a small Baptist Church [near San Antonio] armed with an assault rifle…. A few minutes later, 28 parishioners had been killed. That tiny church in a town of 400—they never thought this would happen in their community. It always happens somewhere else.”   

Looking around the large cathedral social hall, Deputy Billinger said that if a shooter came into the room, the first impulse would be to seek shelter under your chair. In this case, he said, you would simply be waiting to be executed.

“The key thing to think about is our own mind-set. Our own mind-set is our key to survival.

“...The best option,” he said, pointing to the large glass doors to the outside of the church, “is out those doors, escaping. Next is lockdown. If you are locked in a room with a good door, the shooter will not waste time trying to open the door.”

The next is to hide. Turn off the lights. Make no sound. Another option, he said, is to run, and to run in a zig-zag fashion. It’s very difficult for even seasoned shooters to hit a running target.

The last option is to fight.

“What are you willing to do to survive?” he asked. “If [I were the shooter], you people far outnumber me. Could you not act together?

“Everyone of you are sitting on a weapon that is very effective against my head,” he said, referring to the metal, folding chairs. “If you work together, you can defeat me. Fight aggressively.

“If you don’t become mentally prepared how to react, you won’t react effectively.”



Denise Flax, a Ransom High School teacher and religious education instructor  at
St. Aloysius Parish in Ransom, brought two of her students to the gathering, her sons Daren and Jamie, who, with the rest of their PSR class, create social media videos designed to evangelize other young people.

Perfectly fitting the subject of their presentation, the three performed their talk from a prepared script, which was carefully injected with how-tos, valuable advice, and a good dose of humor.

“We must share our faith with kindness, not drill it into them like a jackhammer,” they said, referring to the lessons taught in their videos.

The presentation included a video the class made with a cell-phone camera, “What is Apologetics?”

While they await a grant from the Vibrant Ministries — Uniting Our Church Appeal to help upgrade their video equipment, the cell-phone video shows that even on a shoestring budget, it’s possible to produce a creative, fun, and faith-filled message to the young masses.


Being a Disciple as a Parent with Teens

Eric Haselhorst’s presentation was entitled “How to be a Disciple as a Parent with Teens.” He provided examples of how language matters when talking to teenagers.

“Don’t assume negative intent when you ask your kids questions. You can get the same information you need by assuming positive intent.”

Haselhorst spoke about the use of coaching questions when teens face problems.

He concluded with things kids ought to hear from their parents. Among these were: “I’m proud of you,” “I know you can do this,” and “I believe in you.”


Complete lists of these communication tools and other hand-outs from Stewardship Day can be found at

Diocese of Dodge City

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