March 13, 2013 // Local

Good Leaders, Good Shepherds begins curriculum

FORT WAYNE — Twenty-five priests from the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend have embarked on a curriculum for clergy specifically designed to help them overcome today’s challenges of a diminishing number and the more complex circumstances for priestly ministry. The curriculum is called Good Leaders, Good Shepherds and is based on using Christ as the ultimate shepherd and model of leadership.

“The impact will be more holy, healthy and happy shepherds of vibrant parish communities, leading more people to a deeper relationship with Christ,” reports the Catholic Leadership Institute website, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades is a board member of the institute.

“The goal is to minimize the frustration and energy spent on their administrative roles and maximize the joy and time spent on the pastoral duties for which they were uniquely ordained,” the institute says.

“In seminary education there is very little attention given to being effective leaders/managers,” notes Father Jason Freiburger, one of the priests who recently attended the fall and winter sessions.

“The three munera (duties) of the ordained are teaching, sanctifying and governing,” says Father Frieburger, who is the diocesan vice chancellor. “The first two are given adequate focus, while the duty of governing is neglected. Since we are diocesan priests who will very likely oversee the care of a parish at one time or another, any program designed to assist us in this regard is an incredible asset in which we are privileged to partake.”

Father Dave Ruppert, pastor of St. Anthony de Padua Parish in South Bend, says, “I’m basically running a million dollar per year operation for the benefit of some of God’s souls who are, as they say, priceless. I want to do the best job that I can for God and Church.”

Father Bill Dickinson, the national director of leadership development, says, “Ongoing formation and development is both a responsibility and a privilege that comes with life-long learning. Today, more than ever, our Catholic community needs holy men of God who not only revere their own ministry, but also honor the people of God.”

“Pastoral leadership training gives witness to the good news of the priesthood,” he says. “Good Leaders, Good Shepherds is a world-class curriculum that celebrates the ministerial experience of all participants.”

“In fact,” he notes, “given the demands of ministry and the complexity of running parishes — and for many, multiple parishes — the ability to more effectively lead and invite the leadership of others is paramount to creating and building authentic, vibrant Catholic communities.”

“Five contexts for leadership, and five practices in support of priestly leadership, will be at the core of this ongoing formational opportunity,” Father Dickinson says. “Increased confidence and competence in shepherding the people of God is a desired outcome; it is prayerfully supported and celebrated as well.”

Father Ruppert says of the benefits of the first session: “It takes two points to travel, a beginning and an end. The first session was where we as leaders are coming from in order to understand how to better get to where we are going as a Church.”

Of those benefits, Father Freiburger adds, “Besides the fraternity that was strengthened among the priests who were able to attend, we learned a bit more about our DISCpositions, values and persona(lities) and how those interplay with those with whom we work and with whom we interact.”

He plans to take the things he learned from the first session and incorporate them into his ministry.

“We learned to be more open and attentive to the differences that exist in each individual,” Father Freiburger says. “In this way, we can more effectively lead and strengthen others as well in building strong communities of faith not only at our parishes but in the larger community also.”

Father Ruppert says, “The training made us more aware of how people communicate in terms of their personalities and values so that we as leaders can communicate more effectively according to other people’s preferences. We can use this training to communicate the goals and vision of the parish to others.”

As the priests participate in the winter session, Father Ruppert says, “The second session focuses on building relationships with other people which is what communion is all about. It will help us build relationships with individuals as the foundation to building relationships with teams and organizations.”

Father Freiburger says he looks most forward to “taking that next step in my own leadership abilities in order to serve God’s people better.”











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