Pastor expands gifted leadership program to parish team

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Editor’s note: This is the second in an occasional series on the Gifted Leadership program. Read the first here.

After his own participation in the Gifted Leadership – Called by Name program, a pastor decided to bring the same program back to his parish team so that they too could benefit from the initiative.

“When I saw the impact it had on me and the things it highlighted, I thought it would be good not just for the management team, but for the parish staff,” says Father Raymond Gormley, parish priest of the Incarnation. , Mantua. He looked forward to his team “having the opportunity to see what gifts they bring to their ministry and to the life of the parish.”

The Gifted Leadership – Called by Name program has its origins in the 2019 Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in South Jersey. The gathering included leadership workshops for clergy, and it sparked interest in continuing to support these pastor skills.

A cohort of 13 diocesan clergy, including Fr. Gormley, participated in the leadership development pilot program, specifically designed to help priests recognize their God-given gifts and talents to guide and serve through their own design unique. A second group of priests began working on the program earlier this year.

In the program, each priest is assigned an executive coach, with whom he works for more than four months. The process starts with a personal story. Everyone is invited to identify and share stories from their life that have led to a deep sense of fulfillment.

The program emphasizes how important these stories are to recognize. Fulfillment stories are moments when a person takes action and recognizes that they did it well and derives a great sense of satisfaction from having done it.

The journey begins here and also includes several assessments designed to help explore individual gifts, strengths and motivations.

“I think I’ve seen for myself the gifts that I bring to the ministry and how they’ve been enhanced a little more,” Father Gormley says, “and I think that’s helped both leadership team and parish staff to see the gifts they bring.”

Going further, Fr. Gormley facilitated the attendance of 16 parish representatives – one of them being the parish’s business manager, Patti Houwen.

“We kind of know we’re good at certain things, but we don’t really have the words to express exactly what it is or why we’re good at it,” says Houwen. “Going through this program really makes you aware of the gifts you have.”

Houwen had previously taken a joint assessment designed to identify basic personality traits — for example, identifying whether someone is more outgoing or introverted — but she always felt the test didn’t capture her well. As part of the Gifted Leadership program, the assessment process was followed by coaching sessions designed to identify and reflect on each participant’s key strengths, and to discuss their integration. The gifted leadership journey is meant to reveal – with greater clarity – a person’s unique God design and show them how unique they truly are.

“When you do the assessments and identify the strengths, and then sit down with a coach and walk through it, you can really see yourself,” she says. “It’s good for self-confidence. We wish we had done this when we were in our twenties.

A key part of the process for the 16 participants was to come together so everyone could share their strengths and they could reflect on how their strengths and gifts complement and connect to those of their colleagues.

“You really see the integration at this point,” Houwen says.

Some of her main strengths are interpersonal communication and winning over others, she learned in the process. Following the gifted leadership experience, she says team members could turn to her for help in a difficult situation or to speak with someone who called about a problem.

She says their team now has a better idea of ​​who might have the right gifts and strengths to best approach a given situation. For example, the team may turn to a few of its members who tend to be more detail-oriented for certain projects.

“You know who to go to in the office or on the leadership team,” she says, “and what gifts lead them more in that direction, or who to brainstorm something with.”

Houwen notes that often church leaders and parish staffers tend to be more humble about their abilities, and she acknowledged that the process was a bit awkward at first.

“At first it was hard to say, ‘I have this strength, I’m good at this,'” she says, adding that the coaches helped facilitate the process. “Because they are trained coaches, they know exactly how to get you out of trouble, what questions to ask.”

Father Gormley sees this type of program as beneficial in the parish setting.

“In the life of faith, you always try to edify people and involve them more in the life of the community,” he says.

He also sees the potential for programs like this to build on the strengths of parish leaders and further invigorate a congregation.

“We hear so much about evangelism, and it’s true. Our goal is to always reach out to non-believers or non-affiliates, and bring them into that sense of community,” he says. “But the other good thing about this coaching is that you have the people who are here week in and week out, and you want to ignite them with love for the faith. That’s what helps make a parish even more alive.

Houwen says participants walked away from the process with that feeling.

“It just makes us more alive,” she says. “We’re so energized here because of it.”

Houwen sees the value of the Gifted Leadership program for ministry leaders, and Fr. Gormley also has future expansion in mind.

“At some point I would like to introduce it into the religious education curriculum,” Father Gormley said. “Children need to have a sense of affirmation in themselves. There is so much competition and [it is important] to really be able to let the kids see the gifts that they have that are innate in them right now.

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