Thursday, August 18, 2016

Leadership Roundtable - Homily for Day Three

So here’s Jesus, faced with an enormous challenge.  Five Thousand People to feed, sitting on the grass for as far as the eye can see.  It’s perhaps one of the most important management challenges of the scriptures, as it is the only miracle recorded in all four Gospels.  

So what did Jesus do?  Being omniscent, he already knew what Father Paul Holmes would write in the Pastor’s toolbox, so he did four things.

First he made a plan, surveying the available resources.

Then he organized the work and seated the multitude in groups of fifties and a hundred for speed and fairness in the distribution.

Third, he made sure he had an adequate group of works in the person of the twelve, standing ready to distribute.

Then he gathered every available loaf and fish before saying the blessing.

He planned, organized, inspired a group of workers and brought together the needed resources.

And that’s not the only time he followed sound management principles.  Whether he was making wine at Cana or breaking bread in the upper room, there is a plan and a structure to the Gospel which should inspire each one of us.

We who are, or God-willing will be called to the ministry of governance in the Church, the ministry of the Good Shepherd, who does not get lost when looking for the errant sheep, or eaten by the wolf or does not keep track of each of the sheep he knows by name.

May you be the good shepherd, whose heart and mind and experience are laid down with his life in service of the sheep who are placed in his care.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Leadership Roundtable - Day One

Fifteen seminarians and ten priests have just completed the first day of workshops on Parish Management with the Leadership Roundtable.  Topics covered on day one included A Theology of Management, Tools for Managing Change and Developing Visions for Ministry.  The day began with Morning Prayer and Mass at 7:10am and ends with a social after supper.  Long, but very fruitful days!

Leadership Roundtable at SJS

Twenty-five seminarians and priests begin three days of workshops on Parish Management here at SJS with the great folks at the Leadership Round Table. Here’s my homily from this morning’s opening Mass as well as my opening remarks at the first session.

St Stephen of Hungary
Tuesday, August 16, 2016 (7:30am)

Winston Churchill must have been reading Ezekiel just before he loudly proclaimed the most important lesson he ever learned in life. There is a God and I am not him.

Ezekiel describes the perfectly terrible pastor. He is the one with a haughty heart, who by his words and actions constantly proclaims: “I am God,” as he sits ion his royal throne.

He has no need of advice from learned managers and there are no laymen wiser than he. He has been imbued with divine wisdom, not only in matters priestly and doctrinal, but in governance as well.

He is the modern Solomon, resolving every dispute by his own ingenuity, building a new Church with infused administrative knowledge, and setting up structures which would be the envy of the giants of industry,   And he does it all on his own.

Which is why within the past month you can google Fr Nguyen of San Jose who will spend the next four years in federal prison for misappropriating parish funds. Or the 76 year old priest in Steubenville, who wrote checks to a con man for $35,000 because he believed all his stories. Or Father Kane in Detroit who is facing up to twenty years in state prison for misappropriation of close to a quarter of a million dollars.

And its not just about the money. The same haughty priest who needs no one’s advice will make an equal mess of human resources, finance councils and the parish plant.

Back to Ezekiel:

“you [think you] are wiser than Daniel, there is no secret that is beyond you. By your wisdom and your intelligence you have made riches for yourself; You have put gold and silver into your treasuries. By your great wisdom applied to your trading ou have heaped up your riches; sounds a little like a certain presidential candidate) your heart has grown haughty from your riches– herefore thus says the Lord GOD: IT WILL ALL FALL APART.

But if you are humble…if you seek God’s will and the accumulated wisdom of others…what is impossible for you to accomplish alone, with God is very possible.

Today is the Feast of Stephen of Hungary, the first of the great Christian monarchs. They tell all kinds of stories about his humility and of his desperate search for ways to fill his people’s stomachs, keep them safe and to lead them to God.

And there’s only one major relic of Saint Stephen that still exists. It is his right hand, also known as the Dextra. Why did this relic along survive? He biographer speculates:

“The right hand of the blessed man was deservedly exempt from putrefaction, because always reflourishing from the flower of kindness it was never empty from giving gifts to nourish the poor.” (Hartvic, Life of King Stephen of Hungary[191])

You don’t have to know it all. You don’t have to be God. All you gotta do is listen and give in humility and love.

Welcome to the Leadership Round Table

"In church work,” a wise man once wrote, “as in forming and merchandizing and manufacturing and in all other affairs, the management of yesterday will lead to bankruptcy and failure today.” (Albert Franklin McGarrah, Modern Church Management: A Study in Efficiency (1917), p. 20.)

That was written in 1917 by a Protestant management specialist, whose major work lamented the widespread lack of knowledge and skill in Church management among the Church’s pastors.

As many of you know, last week I was in Siena with the Vox Clara Committee, whose chair also happens to be Prefect of the Economy for the Holy See. Cardinal Pell was delighted to hear of your attendance at these workshops and promised his prayers. He also, characteristically, offered some candid advice, a reprise of his address to the new Bishops of the world about six months ago.

Because, he said, “dishonesty is not unknown” in how Church personnel handle money,” He offered three points to keep in mind.

First, Don’t assume honesty. Both Bishops nor pastors, he insisted “must understand financial basics and must take an interest in financial undertakings,” he said. “He cannot leave it to others; he cannot boast that he doesn’t understand this area.” “This,” he said without mincing words, “would give encouragement to thieves.”

Second, Employ “four eyes.” Recommending annual audits, he insisted that no one person, Bshop or Pastor, should be the only one watching the books. Checks and balances are essential.

Third, he recommended that we always Rely on lay expertise. From your business manager to Finance Committee, you need good competent and “pastorally oriented persons” to whom you will listen.

Which brings me to the happy moment of introducing Jim Lunholm-Eades and Peter Denio of the Leadership Roundtable., Since first I was exposed to theirPastor’s Toolbox two years ago, I have been longing for this moment, a new and annual part of our seminary curriculum, where we might listen to good and competent lay persons who love the Church and learn something about the principles of governance and Church management which has been or will be placed in our hands.

I am really looking forward to this. Welcome!

Coming home to SJS...

Corey Rouse sent this great pic of an image of the Lord Jesus in Glory from the Church of Saint Mary the Great in Cambridge, England.  It reminds me of how the Lord is slowly leading home to SJS all our brothers who have been seeking him in so many places this summer: serving in parishes, praying at World Youth Day, studying spirituality and chant and language and so much more.  God bring them safely home and fill them with the joy which comes from serving hi Gospel!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Getting ready...

We're entering into the final days of summer, with workshops and renovations and infinite hours of planning. Here's a few shots of the corridors where our new Faculty suites and such are finally reaching completion...

Friday, August 12, 2016

Vox Clara Meets in Siena

The Vox Clara Committee just completed its twenty-sixth meeting.  To escape the Roman heat we met at a thirteenth century Carthusian monastery (noun conference center owned by the University of Siena): Certosa Pontignano in Siena.  Our time was spent reviewing ICEL Green Books for Orders for Baptism of Infants and the Christian Initiation of Adults and the Rites for the blessing of oils, all told reviewing 643 pages of documentation!

(Left to right: Fr. Briody, Abp. Values, Bp. Serratelli, Fr. McManus, Cardinal Ranjith, seminarian Denis Nakkeeran, Cardinal Pell, Msgr. Moroney, Abp. Prendergast, Abp. Stack, Fr. McCarthy, Fr. Murphy and Msgr. Johnson)

Cardinal Pell and I relaxing in the Campo in Siena on the last day of our meeting.

Our own Denis Nakkeeran, who has been studying Italian
in Siena with Cardinal Ranjith of Sri Lanka.