I am always inspired when we hear about a parish, pastor, or diocese who doesn’t just participate in one of Catholic Leadership Institute’s initiatives… but discovers ways to do MORE with their experiences, learnings, and data.
Today, I share with you how Catholic leaders in the Diocese of Lansing, MI, are doing just that!
Called For More: Caring for Priests, Equipping Dioceses, Enriching Parishes
Inspired by love for priests, Catholic Leadership Institute’s innovative, data-informed initiative of Called for More, forges a new reality where priests have the guidance and tools to grow in the areas of self-awareness, receiving feedback, leadership knowledge, planning for the future, and identifying and utilizing their gifts to bring more people to Christ. Reflected in its name, this effort exhorts priests to embrace the call to maximize their leadership potential. In turn, it also provides clarity and information for the dioceses as well as rich insights for the parish.
Catholic Leadership Institute was blessed to have the Diocese of Lansing as one of the pilot dioceses for this initiative. Even after going through this pilot, the diocese was determined to keep the learning, caring, and innovative thinking at the forefront…
Dioceses of Lansing Determined to do MORE
A diocesan official in Lansing reached out to Catholic Leadership Institute for some support in the fall of 2020. One of their priests, who was about to retire, had been pastor of his community for 24 years, double the average tenure. For better or for worse, the parish had been defined by this one man for two and a half decades. The diocese needed to find a new pastor for this particular parish and was aware of the many complexities involved in finding a good fit. They brainstormed a few names up front, and then someone suggested contacting Catholic Leadership Institute to help them use their newly available Called for More data to make a more intentional decision for this priest assignment.
Diving into Data
CEO, Dan Cellucci, was able to facilitate a new process for them. First, they looked at the parish Disciple Maker Index and Key Parish Leaders survey results in order to get a snapshot of where the parish was at, what was most important to them and what their strengths as a community were. Then, they looked at the current pastor’s leadership behavior inventory and Preferences and Passions survey to determine what his particular gifts and gaps might be. Finally, they were able to use the CLI Portal to enter some criteria for an ideal new pastor in order to generate some possible candidates. For example, parishioners indicated on the DMI that preaching was an opportunity area, so the diocesan personnel team used the portal to look for a priest who scored high in preaching, and was also aligned with the parish’s values of family, prayerfulness, etc.
Discovering Strengths & Opportunities of Pastors
This process generated about 20 priest candidates for the role of pastor. Among them, interestingly, were all of the names initially brainstormed by the diocesan personnel team, which not only validated the tool but also provided the diocese with specific language to articulate why they had thought those particular men would be a strong fit in the first place. Their newfound ability to be specific about the strengths and opportunities of the pastor candidates resulted in a completely different conversation than they would have had a year ago. For example, one candidate was more of an individual contributor, contrasted with the current pastor who preferred to surround himself with a large team and delegate. The diocese acknowledged there would be pros and cons to that change and consequently were able to have a conversation about what kind of support the candidate would need in order to be successful at the parish.
Informed Discussions, Data-Driven Decisions
The entire process was exactly what Catholic Leadership Institute envisioned when we conceptualized the Called for More initiative - it enabled the diocesan personnel board to have an informed discussion about potential pastors, feel confident about their decision-making process, and also identify very specific support and professional development the new pastor would need in order to walk into his new community and be successful. Called for More also provides priests with a voice in the priest personnel assignment process so they can share their preferences and passions in a way that helps the Bishop make decisions with as much available data as possible. In the end, while no assignment is perfect, the Called for More initiative allowed the Diocese of Lansing to be intentional about their decision and to offer the best opportunity for both priest and parish to thrive.
Commending Care & Creativity
Called for More is about care for Catholics. Transformational care for priests enables happier, holier, and healthier priests to provide a similar level of care for the parishioners entrusted to them. Catholic Leadership Institute commends the Diocese of Lansing for their care, concern, and creative planning!
p.s. On the spirit of MORE…
If you missed CEO Dan Cellucci’ s talk “Is Your Parish Prepared for 2022?” and you would like to learn how to do MORE for your parish in the coming year (or you want to watch it one MORE time), please find the recording here: