Sister Pamela Biehl reports on the Collaborative Parish Leadership Program and her current involvement. The program’s working address is Cardinal Stritch University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
“The Collaborative Parish Leadership Project generously funded by a Thriving in Ministry Grant from the Lily Foundation, continues to flourish with regard to its essential mission of gathering and supporting Parish Life Coordinators from across the United States.
Rich Harter, Fr. Ken Knippel and I launched our fifth Parish Life Coordinator Cohort in September 2022, consisting of fifteen people from as far west as Seattle, Washington, as far east as Baltimore, Maryland, and as far south as Fairacres, New Mexico. The group is a wonderful mix of permanent deacons, women religious, and lay women and men, which makes for an environment rich in discussion and learning.
The Cohort began with an in-person retreat on September 27-29, 2022, at the Mother of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. This afforded us the wonderful opportunity to meet each other, build relationships, pray together, and begin reflecting on what it means to thrive in this unique ministry. Based on the needs articulated by the cohort members at the end of the retreat, we put together the focus areas for our five ninety-minute Zoom meetings scheduled from October 2022 through March 2023.
The key topics that were identified became our Zoom schedule:
October 17, 2022 Collaboration in Ministry –
Roles and Ecclesiology
November 21, 2022 Leading with an Abundance Mentality – Filled with the Holy Spirit
January 16, 2023 Self-Care in Ministry –
Challenges and Strategies
February 20, 2023 Intentional Time Management –
Finding Healthy Balance
March 20, 2023 Learning and Growth as Leaders –
Building a Growth Plan
Along with these five Zoom meetings Fr. Ken and I will also be visiting the parishes of the members of the current cohort. We want to see the churches where these Parish Life Coordinators minister and talk to their assisting priests, parishioners and staff. Our task will be to listen to and observe how these parishes accept and support this model of parish leadership.
During the past four years of doing this grant work one thing has become very clear: participants in this ministry model often feel isolated and alone, so gathering for mutual support and encouragement is essential. Filling that need is the primary focus of the Collaborative Parish Leadership Project and an objective that has given me the opportunity to get to know and share with some amazing parish leaders in church ministry around the country.”