Monday, July 25, 2005

Ministering Managers

The shortage of priests presents lots of problems. But, here's one I hadn't really thought about.

With fewer and fewer priests, many new priests are being handed the keys to parishes within a year of entering the priesthood. These "newbies" are walking into multi-million dollar organizations that face increasing debt, shrinking revenues and a host of organizational challenges. It's doubtful that it's what most of them imagined when they answered the Lord's call.

This AP story at Spokane's highlights how some dioceses are training their young pastors to be skilled leaders and parish CEOs. In Toledo, "priests meet with local corporate executives to glean their business savvy." In Cincinnati, seminarians study parish finances. In Chicago, newly ordained priests attend workshops on management and personnel issues.
Sister Christine Schenk, executive director of FutureChurch, a Cleveland-based group of liberal Catholic reformers, would like to see every seminary require courses in human resources, management and community organizing.

"Most priests want to be a priest because they want to be ministering to people, not because they want to be a manager," Schenk said. "Most do management badly."
The article highlights one priest who brought his experience as a corporate leader in Silicon Valley to his pastoral role.

The Rev. Brendan McGuire, 39, of Holy Spirit Parish in San Jose, Calif., was the executive director of the Personal Computer Memory Card International Association before becoming a priest. That job took him around the world as he worked with computer giants such as Microsoft and Fujitsu.

"Fundamentally, it's exactly what I do now," McGuire said. "You deal with lots of different people who have their own agendas, and you have to keep everyone unified on the same standard. And this standard is Jesus Christ."

McGuire has brought business practices, including employee evaluations, to Holy Spirit, a parish of more than 4,000.

Parish priests thinking like CEOs. Is it a good thing?
And, what if CEOs started thinking like parish priests?


At 4:45 PM, July 25, 2005, Blogger Steve Bogner said...

Is it a good thing? Hmm... Maybe, maybe not. I think it's regrettable, more than anything elese. Maybe, just maybe the priest could let the lay folks in the parish manage a lot of the operational stuff so he could focus on the 'mission' of the enterprise?

Or, the organization's bylaws could be changed to expand the pool of CEO-recruits by lowering the barriers to entry ;)

At 1:19 PM, July 26, 2005, Blogger Susan Rose, CSJP said...

My favorite priest in the entire world is my former pastor. I'm now on the pastoral council and realizing he was a crummy administrator. Pastorally he was a superstar. But he made administrative decisions (ie with staff) pastorally. Not good for the running of an organization.

One thing that's happening with the priest shortage is "pastoral administrators." There are at least 2 parishes in my town run by lay administrators. The priest that's associated with the parish sticks to the sacraments and pastoral work.

A good thing to come from the shortage?

At 5:09 AM, July 27, 2005, Blogger Lee Strong said...

I remember when we had several priests at a parish. One was a CEO - the pastor - who could run the show. But the other priests often had other gifts . One might have been great with the school age kids. Another may have been great at comforting, as in visiting nursing homes, hospitals, etc. Still another might have been deeply spiritual, the center of prayer in the parish. And so on. Not every parish had all types, obviously, but still, there was a splitting of duties based on abilities. Now, in traditionally oriented parishes, the lone priest has to be all.
One positive of this "priest crisis," though, is that it is opening doors for lay people and religious to fill the needs. Maybe we will get to the point where the administrator (CEO) in many parishes won't have to be a priest, so that Father Comforter or Father Spiritual can exercise his gifts.


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