Thinking Differently; Leading Differently

One of the great joys of Catholic Leadership Institute’s ministry is that we are always learning from the leaders we serve.

Called For More is one example.

Called for More is an innovative approach to discovering the strengths and development opportunities of priests, matching them to the best parishes for their unique gifts, and offering coaching, growth plans, and transition support.

This innovative endeavor answers the call for more – more skilled leaders, more thriving parishes, and more people growing in love with Christ.

Recently, I had the opportunity to dive into some of the learnings from our Called For More ministry.

READ BELOW for five quick Called For More learnings… one of which is helping a priest sleep better at night!

Learning MORE from Called for More

To date, we have served 2,456 priests through Called For More.

This endeavor is revolutionizing the priest placement process in the U.S. Catholic Church and taking our mission of supporting priests to the next level through faith-filled attention on:

  • Discovering priestly gifts through deep personal assessment and employing those gifts to best shepherd their parishes
  • Equipping priests with coaching opportunities and growth plans to care for them spiritually and corporally
  • Informing, inspiring, and igniting a parish with rich insights and data via the Disciple Maker Index (DMI) survey
  • Bolstering dioceses via technology and data-based support.
  • Guiding pastors and parishes in strong action planning.

Five Interesting Insights

Below are just a few of the fascinating insights about how to better care for our priests and those they shepherd that we have gleaned from Called For More:

1) A Step Forward for Feedback

The key to this endeavor is feedback. Yet, feedback is often very new for a priest. Many times, Called For More can be the first time a priest is receiving feedback after the seminary. While this can be intimidating, we are noticing a shift in that paradigm as we see priests who deeply desire to learn about their own strengths and development opportunities. There is now a thirst to know. Many priests are using the data to shift their own leadership, especially with homilies, spiritual journeys, and conversing with staff and different ministries of the parish to look more deeply into what and who is in their congregations. They want to harness time, energy, and focus to be more intentional about growth.

This is a great step forward!

2) Covid Deepens Desire for Disciple Maker Index Data: The DMI has taken an increasingly significant and impactful role as pastors deeply desire a snapshot of their parishes post-Covid. We have found that many priests are focused on jumpstarting parish life in the wake of Covid, with a great desire to hear from parishioners out of concern for the future of their parish. The Disciple Maker Index has seen a higher-than-expected response rate due to pastors needing data after people had been away from in-person activities at their parishes for so long. There is a significant need to hear from the people and better understand the current state of parish life and faith. Pastors are thinking differently in their congregational leadership by using the Disciple Maker Index to truly see where they are as a parish, where they want to go, and how to use data, vision, and the gifts of their parishioners to get there in a much bigger and more profound way.

3) The Transformative Power of Coaching

We have learned that perhaps one of the most important elements of Called For More is coaching. Every priest in Called For More is offered the opportunity to collaborate with a Coach Mentor – this has been transformative.

We have seen coaches provide invaluable knowledge regarding leadership, financial management, execution of tasks, spiritual guidance, meeting planning assistance, tips for balancing habits and expectations, and ways to lead with confidence and competence.

One priest confided that as a result of working with a Coach Mentor, “I am sleeping better at night.”

Bonus Coaching Learning!

Here is an unexpected learning: a beautiful benefit of Called For More is not just the addition of Coach Mentors, but how they have witnessed their own personal faith, commitment to the dioceses, and care for parishes strengthened.

4) Discovering the Gifts of the People in the Pews is More Difficult Than Imagined:

Often, we assume that our priests deeply know and can easily identify talented leaders in their parishes. We have learned through a mix of experience, evaluation, and interviewing that this is not always the case. There are so many talented people in the pews who have gifts that could deeply benefits their parish… but they have never been involved. Fortunately, through the process of the DMI and parish planning, we have seen that a clear priority plan and vision can inspire lay leaders to see where their gifts and talents can be best used, offering an opportunity for them to rise up and play a role.

5) Happier, holier, and healthier priests = happier, holier, and healthier parishes

The most important learning we have discovered is that there is an opportunity to better care for our priests. As a pastor’s vitality, faith, and health is enhanced from Called for More learnings, support, and personal growth plans, so too is that of their parish.

Happier, holier, and healthier priests are better able to answer the demands of their call to the priesthood, answer the call to grow as a leader, and answer the call to bring more souls closer to our Lord.

While we assumed this would be the case, Called For More has strongly validated this.

I offer words of affirmation for all of our Called For More participants – it takes courage to receive feedback, make change, and do things differently. Throughout this journey, we have seen amongst pastors a strong awareness of a need for change, a care to learn and grow, and a desire to take action for the future of our faith. There is much work to be done, but we are encouraged by what we have seen amidst this endeavor.

Thank you to all Catholic leaders who hear and answer the call to more for our faith!

by Mike School

August 25, 2022

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