Column: ‘Shepherds’ program schools priests in management

by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann

Sunday, Oct. 26, was designated this year as Priesthood Sunday by Worldwide Marriage Encounter and the Serra Club. I am very pleased by this initiative of the laity to express appreciation for our priests.

As I visit in parishes across the Archdiocese, I am gratified by the love and affection the people of the Archdiocese have for their priests. I am even more edified by the zeal and dedication of our priests in striving to pour out their lives in service for the Lord and his people.

Next week, more than 30 of our priests will participate for several days in the first session of a program called “Good Leaders, Good Shepherds.” The Good Leaders, Good Shepherds curriculum was developed by the Catholic Leadership Institute that is located in Philadelphia. The Catholic Leadership Institute describes the purpose of Good Leaders, Good Shepherds in these words: “Using Jesus Christ as the ultimate shepherd and model of leadership, the Good Leaders, Good Shepherds curriculum for clergy was specifically designed to help Catholic priests minimize the frustration and energy spent on their administrative roles and to maximize the joy and time spent on the pastoral duties for which they were uniquely ordained.”

The seminary formation of our priests is concentrated on their spiritual, theological, human and pastoral formation. Consequently, there is relatively little time available to prepare priests adequately for the administrative responsibilities that their pastoral ministry will require. Priests are expected to effectively lead large staffs, as well as direct large volunteer organizations with little formal training in human resource management. They have the ultimate responsibility with management of large financial budgets, as well as the proper maintenance of large parish plants.

Good Leaders, Good Shepherds is a program uniquely designed to help priests develop some of the leadership and management skills that will help them be more effective in their administrative roles, thus allowing them to devote more time to their pastoral and spiritual responsibilities. The feedback that I have received from bishops in several dioceses where Good Leaders, Good Shepherds has been offered is extremely positive.

I am very pleased that more than 30 of our priests have chosen to enroll in Good Leaders, Good Shepherds. It is a significant time commitment on their part. The Good Leaders, Good Shepherds program will span two years, involving six multi-day overnight workshops, as well as about a dozen half-day meetings.

If your pastor or associate pastor is participating in Good Leaders, Good Shepherds, I encourage you to support them in this endeavor. Their participation in the program will require that they are absent from the parish sometimes for several days in a given week.

This will necessitate some accommodations with the usual parish Mass schedule, as well as require from parishioners some flexibility in the scheduling of meetings, events and even funerals.

Your priests are giving their time to participate in Good Leaders, Good Shepherds in order to acquire knowledge and to develop skills that will help them be even more effective in their priestly ministry. Please give them your support and encouragement.

In my experience, the priests of the Archdiocese are already very good leaders and very good shepherds. I am excited that so many of our priests will have the opportunity to develop and improve their leadership and administrative skills. In the end, our parishes will be the beneficiaries of this program.

Whether your priest is able to participate in Good Leaders, Good Shepherds or not, please continue to give him your prayerful support and encouragement. Pray for me and all of our priests, that day by day we might become more and more shepherds after the heart of Jesus.

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