The Light of Christ’s Birth is Alive in Our Parishes

"I can tell you that when it comes to igniting the parish, no one is positioned to forge the future like Catholic Leadership Institute."

— Dr. Linda Ritzer, Secretary for Parish Services, Diocese of Pittsburgh

At Catholic Leadership Institute (CLI), we have three goals that resonate in our heart with joy and purpose this Christmas: Ignite the Parish, Embolden the Clergy, and Forge the Future.

An ignited parish is growing, thriving, and bringing people closer to Jesus. It’s a home where people are growing in their faith.

With each Advent candle we light, we feel the burning desire to ignite more parishes. As we relive the birth of Jesus in our parishes, we don’t just wish – we work – to bring others to look into that manger and fall in love with that child.

Today, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, I bring you the story of Dr. Linda Ritzer – who is enkindling flames of evangelization, leadership, and love in parishes. Because of her, disciples are going out and bringing others to know the joy of Christmas year after year.

SCROLL DOWN to watch a 1-minute video from Linda and read about her beautiful image of what an ignited parish should be!

Linda has been a dynamic partner, igniting parishes across the entire Diocese of Pittsburgh alongside Catholic Leadership Institute. Igniting the parish means focusing on evangelization and discipleship. Equipping parents with the tools they need to pass the faith on to their children and grandchildren. It means fostering vibrant faith communities of leaders of all ages and demographics who come together on Sunday —and transform the world in God’s name the rest of the week. It means more Catholics – of all ages – fill the pews each Christmas.

Your generous support inspires more ignited parishes and more leaders like Linda!

Linda’s Story

“A parish where I worked for 12 years had a very dynamic priest—one of the best evangelists I’ve ever met. He was so good, he set the whole town on fire with the Gospel. And people loved it. We had so many people—young and old and everyone in between—flocking to our doors.

So far, so good, right? But the day came when that priest was reassigned…

What happened? The parish slowly went on life support, because it was centered on just one priest. Not on the mission and ministry of Christ.

But what if there was a structure, set up in such a way that if one priest—however charismatic—were to leave, there would be a system in place to make sure the parish doesn’t fall apart?

Right now, most parishes don’t have that. But I believe CLI is in a position to do something about it…

Greater potential can also be achieved among lay leaders, by helping them realize that a parish is not just a place to which we go but, more importantly, a place from which we go.
For the parish is not a destination. It is a way station, from which the lay person can fulfill the work of the laity to make the world holy. Again, this is something I believe CLI can play a key role in encouraging.

We hear it, see it, and feel it. And what the Church is tasked to do in all this is offer spiritual sustenance to those starving for message and meaning in their lives. This requires special insight and creative ways of thinking - ways as many and varied as the parishes themselves.

So, we have to go out. We have to start reaching people and inviting the Church into their lives. We can’t count on them coming to us. We have to go to them. And that’s way bigger than any individual. We have to involve the Body of Christ to reach the Body of Christ.

CLI looks at the big picture to help parishes chart the future. Its highly skilled leaders know how to assess and encourage qualities of leadership and discipleship in many others, no matter what the setting - urban or rural, rich or poor, promising or challenging. Empowering clergy and laity alike to figure things out. Igniting their parishes to engage future generations.”

This Christmas, I hope you reflect upon Linda’s words: we must go out. We must invite and walk with people, following the light of the Christmas star that always leads to Jesus Christ and always ignites our parishes.

by Chad Peddicord

December 08, 2022

Discerning Insights About Leadership

Our CEO Daniel Cellucci's weekly email, the DIAL: Discerning Insights About Leadership.

View all
Emboldening Our Clergy

CLI serves Church leaders, helping them rediscover their potential and forming them to be more intentional with those they serve.

View all
Forging Our Future

CLI provides vision and hope about the future of the Church with a humble, yet strategic approach.

View all

Browse past updates and insights.

View all