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Shepherding and Stewardship in a Vast Diocese with Bishop Peter Christensen

By August 31, 2022December 29th, 2022podcast, Steier Tips

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In the Gospel, Jesus fed 5,000 with only five loaves and two fish. After the crowd was satisfied, there were 12 wicker baskets left over. God provides the abundance. In each episode of this podcast, we will explore, with pastoral leaders and development professionals, all the many ways God meets the spiritual and temporal needs of our parish communities, our Catholic schools and the diocesan church. And not only meets those needs but provides in abundance.

The sixth episode of the podcast is Shepherding and Stewardship in a Vast Diocese with Bishop Peter Christensen.

At more than 83,000 square miles, the Diocese of Boise is vast, comprising the entire state of Idaho. As a largely rural diocese (the 2020 census indicated an overall population of under 2 million inhabitants), the diocese is a beneficiary of support from the USCCB’s Catholic Home Missions Fund and the Extension Society. Bishop Peter Christensen, the Bishop of the Diocese of Boise, says he doesn’t mind all the driving to bring the gospel from one end of the diocese to the other. “It’s stunning…it’s a beautiful state and beautiful people here are amazingly open.” Upon arriving in the diocese over seven years ago, he noted immediately “a core value of faith” in the Christian faithful, adding, “something good has happened here already and it’s a delight to be with these people.” The bishop’s accessibility and presence is important to the presbyterate so the priests can “know their bishop’s mind,” Bishop Peter notes, which is why he travels broadly, celebrating confirmations, the Rite of Election and—during Covid especially—celebrating healing Masses.

Over 20 ministries are funded by the annual Idaho Catholic Appeal, including support for clergy retirement, services to the poor, and one close to Bishop Peter’s heart—Catholic education to support the diocese’s 16 parochial schools, and two high schools. The annual appeal exceeded goal by 10% through Covid, which is a true sign of the faithful’s sense of stewardship. Stewardship is an important responsibility for all the baptized but a unique duty of the bishop. Bishop Peter recalls, “When Jesus called Peter on the boat, he became a fisher of men. Later, after the resurrection, Peter comes off the boat and Jesus pulls him aside and says, do you love me? I want you to feed my sheep. So, Peter moves from a fisherman to a shepherd. And that’s a very important aspect for the Church; we have to go out and catch and evangelize, but we also have to take care of what is there and minister. It’s the role of a shepherd. It’s an honor to be in that role…Sometimes as Catholics I don’t think we realize how much energy—and even financial energy—goes into maintaining and taking care of God’s people.” All the faithful, regardless of their capacity to give, can nonetheless give sacrificially and generously, Bishop Peter notes, observing that those who live their faith have a “natural” appreciation for stewardship and generous giving. “Any time a person gives, whether it be money, or just even service, or just care, it does come back. You know it.”

The prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 42:16) sums up what Bishop Peter believes to be applicable to the times we’re in: “The Lord leads the blind on journey, by paths unknown he leads them, he gives them light for the path, crooked ways he makes straight.” The Lord is with us, Bishop Peter states, “he is on this journey, he’ll help us through, and we are graced to have that relationship with God and each other.”

Guest: Bishop Peter Christensen
Bishop, Diocese of Boise, Idaho

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Previous episode: The Spirituality of the Sunday Offertory with Father Darrin Gurr

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