CLI Fiscal Year in Review: Guts, Grace, Generosity, & Global Impact
Imagine pressing play on the highlight reel of the past year. While there have been moments of profound challenge, God always has a highlight reel, one that is directed by the Holy Spirit, founded in Jesus’ sacrificial love, edited with His grace, and always earns his 5-star love.
In a remarkable chapter of history for our world (that isn’t quite finished yet), let’s hit pause, playback some remarkable moments of leadership, and appreciate a few holy highlights from Catholic Leadership Institute’s ministry and blessings over the past fiscal year!
Note: If we had to title this highlight reel, one word comes to mind: GRATITUDE. NONE of Catholic Leadership Institute’s work – particularly during this past year – is possible without the prayers, participation, and support of our community. Thank you!
Continue reading to revisit moments of powerful faith, intrepid leadership, game-changing philanthropy, and Catholics rising to the challenge (including our work with Bishop Jean in the Diocese of Hinche, Haiti)!
Humbled By Our Highlight Reel
During an unprecedented year, CLI is humbled to both support courageous Catholic leaders and be supported by profoundly generous Catholic leaders!
Immediately after the pandemic hit, we recognized the great need parishes had during this time for focus, facilitation, and support. We were blessed to offer our support to parishes via 6-8 weeks of consultation with a CLI Leadership Consultant to build a parish reopening team, facilitate conversation on unique parish challenges and opportunities, and provide resources and support, at no cost to the parish. At St. Matthew’s Parish, many parishioners were fearful of returning to Mass. After working with CLI, the parish team decided to host Mass outdoors at a local football field, which was a “rip-roaring success” according to pastor Fr. Thomas Heron.
Catholic Leadership Institute was truly proud of these parishes who found unique, safe, and joy-filled ways to reopen their doors… and to not just return to “normal,” but foster new ways of thinking, leading, praying, evangelizing, and growing in faith together.
In addition to specific pandemic support, CLI’s Next Generation Parish endeavor did not miss a beat during this challenging time; in fact, participating parishes from across five arch/dioceses – Orlando, Jackson, Biloxi, Fort Wayne-South Bend, and Philadelphia – shared that this endeavor set the stage for them to remain beacons of hope and stand strong during this unique year. During the past year we were wow-ed by creative communications, restored collections, encouraged by virtual Mass attendance, and the new ways of bringing people closer to Jesus Christ that these parishes fostered.
In early May, CLI hosted a virtual symposium, gathering 55 leaders from the United States and Western Europe, including clergy and lay leaders from the parish, diocesan, academic, philanthropic, apostolate and movement context. Through conversation, collaboration, and Catholic faith, this virtual symposium aimed to develop a universal framework for relevant metrics for measuring parish vitality.
At a time when our priests and pastors are being called to minister in new ways and called to support parishioners in a time of great need, CLI is blessed to continue the work of the Called For More endeavor. This pilot program continues to revolutionize the discernment, appointment, and transitional support of priest placements across the country.
This past Fall marked the completion of Year 1 of the Called For More pilot in all four of the initial pilot dioceses – Savannah, Tulsa, Lansing, and Milwaukee. We are pleased to kick off Year 2 in five arch/dioceses: Saint Paul and Minneapolis, Orange, Cleveland, Saginaw, and Columbus. (Saint Paul & Minneapolis completed the Disciple Maker Index and captured nearly 30,000 responses – the most from any diocese to date!)
Planning for Year 3 participating arch/dioceses is underway and it is with great joy, hope, and love for our priests that we look forward to the tremendous impact this program will have on their health, holiness, and happiness.
Of this effort, Most Rev. David Konderla shares,
“I very much appreciate the strategic, pastoral, and systematic way in which CLI approaches challenges and opportunities facing Catholic leaders. The Diocese of Tulsa is made up of great priests, deacons, religious, and faithful people who work tirelessly for the building of God’s Kingdom. I am deeply thankful for CLI’s care for pastoral leaders, particularly their understanding of the ministry of Catholic bishops and priests. I believe that Called For More is an excellent initiative with great potential. Currently, this project is underway in the Diocese of Tulsa and already bearing fruit, impacting 77 parishes and 75 priests. Of note, even during the challenges of COVID-19, CLI forged ahead with the project…”
While the pandemic limited in-person gatherings and speaking engagements, Dan Cellucci worked tirelessly to spread the word virtually about CLI’s ministry and share findings from our research. Below are just a few noteworthy engagements:
- Napa Institute produced a podcast featuring Dan and Fran Maier in September discussing effective leadership in the Church:
- The Catholic Project featured Dan in a podcast on the role of the laity in helping the Church move forward:
- Dan Cellucci’s OSV Innovation Talk, “What If They Don’t Come Back?” has garnered more than 325,000 views and sparked interest from a number of media outlets. This is not only tremendous exposure for CLI and the important work we do, but also is a critical message to deliver to the Church at this time.
The Disciple Maker Index was completed in over 400 parishes this year, and Catholic Leadership Institute was blessed to forge ahead with this remarkable endeavor. In the pandemic year alone, we received over 70,000 responses – what a testament to the resilient faith of Catholics across the country!
Surpassing the 300,000-response milestone, this innovative tool is the largest research databank in the Catholic Church; yet, the Disciple Maker Index is much more than just data… it is the foundation of rock upon which parishes will thrive for generations to come.
As Dan likes to say, “These responses are more than just surveys: they represent souls. For these souls, we are grateful."
Since April 2020, CLI has held small group discussions with bishops to talk about the challenges of the current environment, share ideas, and gain insights from brother bishops. CLI has offered bishops free virtual support for diocesan leadership on thinking through reopening plans for the diocese, and we were inspired by their dedication, work, and agility in shepherding their arch/dioceses through unprecedented times.
This spring, Catholic Leadership Institute had the honor of working alongside the Diocese of Hinche, Haiti, to discern and craft a strategic vision and plan, including priorities and goals, for the diocese.
This partnership came about because Bishop Gregory Parkes in St. Petersburg, a loyal CLI partner bishop, recommended our work to Bishop Désinord Jean in Hinche. A generous donor-couple who has a passion for the Church in Haiti stepped up to underwrite the service, and as a result, we were able to move forward quickly in support of Hinche’s needs.
Bishop Jean and a group of five priests gathered for 12 sessions led by CLI Leadership Consultant Barbara Eckert. Barb commented,
“Through the first meeting the team created a strong sense of community, prayer, dialogue, small group work, balancing need and significant obstacles and dedication to tasks at hand. The result is clarity about 3 priorities and 7 supporting goals. This work was dedicated to God and his people in the diocese of Hinche. It is both ambitious and rooted in realities that are no stranger to obstacles and hardship. Our prayer was ‘Dear Lord, give us a holy courage to speak of one vision and walk together toward it.’”
The group had to address several challenges along the way – translating materials and sessions (in real-time) into French, creating a session schedule to allow the priests to travel to and from sessions safely at a time when the country is experiencing rampant kidnappings, and making the most of limited resources and unlimited faith.
Their story is beautiful, and we are confident that their plan will create the renewal and transformation they so prayerfully planned for!
Fiscal year 2021 ended yet another historic year for Catholic Leadership Institute in terms of philanthropic support. Highlights included the transformative commitment from Rob and Berni Neal that we shared last week (Click here to read more about their landmark gift) and some tremendous commitments that we look forward to sharing with you during the coming weeks.
Please know that ALL of the above work has been made possible by the prayers and generosity of our friends and donors. Each of you is a blessing to our ministry and the remarkable Catholic leaders we are privileged to serve.
p.s. If you have a highlight you would like to share from the past year, email us, and we will take great joy in reading it!
Our CEO Daniel Cellucci's weekly email, the DIAL: Discerning Insights About Leadership.
CLI serves Church leaders, helping them rediscover their potential and forming them to be more intentional with those they serve.
CLI helps empower and energize Catholic leaders by providing focus and courage to engage the culture with an apostolic mindset.
CLI provides vision and hope about the future of the Church with a humble, yet strategic approach.