Q&A with Nancy Werner, Chancellor of the Archdiocese of St. Louis


Today I bring you another faithful face from our ministry in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, where we are accompanying the faithful of the archdiocese in their All Things New endeavor.

This summer, we shared with you the story of Fr. Chris Martin and his dream for 75 years from now.

Nancy Werner, Chancellor of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, is a key teammate in the All Things New endeavor. Nancy first came to work alongside Catholic Leadership Institute in the Diocese of Saginaw, and we are proud to continue journeying alongside her now in St. Louis.

During a recent chat with Nancy, I asked her what makes Catholic Leadership Institute unique. Her response has stuck with me:

“You have never disappointed me. You are credible, authentic, talented leaders who show up. You're ready for whatever the game day is… I love that you are the fullness of the Church. You are ordained. You are lay leaders. You represent different generations in the Church. That is really a great gift of CLI.”

Below is more from my chat with Nancy!

Mike: Nancy, I am so excited to be chatting with you today. You and I already know each other, but for our CLI friends who do not, tell us a little bit about who you are, what you do in the Church, and some of your background.

Nancy: I have really spent my whole adult life in ministry as an employee of the Catholic Church. In my early years, I started out as a youth minister in a big parish in Minneapolis. Then, I moved to the Diocese of Sioux Falls, where I worked for 17 years as Director of Youth Ministry and then moved into administration. After that, I served in Saginaw, MI, for four years as chancellor. Now I've been in Saint Louis since 2009. It's been a wide variety of great gifts in each of those little chapters of my life.

Mike: And what do you do now in Saint Louis? What's your role there?

Nancy: Chancellor is the role and, most of the time, what I say is I manage people and projects and the Archbishop is my priority. It started in high school that I knew that ministry and me and my vocation probably were connected. So, I think some of my natural gifts flow into my ministry, whether it's chancellor or youth minister or part of the core team working with CLI.

Mike: I know Archbishop Rozanski, who's been in the Archdiocese of St. Louis for almost two years now, is excited to have you as certainly was Archbishop Carlson before that.

Switching gears a little bit to CLI — you knew a little bit about CLI even before coming here, right?

Nancy: Yes… one of the things I'm so proud of CLI for is that you have sort of pivoted as the Church and the world have needed you to. So, I think the CLI that I first met in Saginaw is not who you are today. During my years in Saint Louis, it's been everything from Good Leaders, Good Shepherds to priority planning to Tending the Talents, and now All Things New. It has been a whole variety of ordained and lay leaders that have been part of my CLI experience, which is fantastic.

Mike: You obviously have a lot of experience with CLI. What would you say if someone asked you, “What makes CLI so unique?”

Nancy: Well, I think I'd have to start by saying you have never disappointed me. You are credible, authentic, talented leaders who show up. You're ready for whatever the game day is. You come set to manage the day, whatever the details. I've always loved that about CLI… you're ready for whatever your day holds.

I love that you are the fullness of the Church. You are ordained. You are lay leaders. You represent different generations in the Church. That is really a great gift of CLI.

I speak for myself in that you really have been for me a great witness to the faith… even some of the techniques that you've used to teach or to coach or to mentor or to kind of get into some bristly conversations, I think you do it with great grace.

Mike: We would say the same about you. Over all of these years, how beautiful is it to see you – particularly as a lay woman in the Church – serving in the role that you're serving, but also the previous roles you've served in with such great competence and such great ease. It’s just beautiful to see the fact that you are willing to put yourself out there in what is sometimes a challenging environment.

Whatever the circumstances you find yourself in, you do it with just such great faith and great hope.

And as we think about that and we think about work with CLI over the years, what has CLI helped you with, either you personally or the archbishops or bishops you've worked with, or even the dioceses that you've been with?

Nancy: I'm going to just focus on the two that I'm the most proud of.

First, out of our priority planning [with CLI] came this three-year initiative. Trisha Cellucci [the Catholic Leadership Institute lead] helped us identify four priorities and those four priorities became the foundation for work groups, work functions, committees, smart goals… I still hear people talk about how those priorities are still probably the same priorities as today, the way that they gathered people around those pillars, and how some priests really rallied around those pillars too. I'm very proud of that.

I am also beaming with hope for All Things New.

I've been here [in the Archdiocese of St. Louis] since 2009. We certainly knew that the times were calling for a big conversation… we are so fortunate that as soon as Archbishop Rozanski came he was made aware of what the opportunities were. I'm so glad that I get to have kind of a front row seat in that conversation.

I remain very hopeful, and I don't think there's anyone other than CLI that could do that with us and for us.

The work has really been fun. There have been a lot of laughs along the way. A lot of tears. A lot of frustration. But just a lot of – again, I'll use the word hope – the hope of what can be… sort of a blank slate.

Friends, I thank Nancy and her team, I thank those out in the field in all of the dioceses and archdioceses we serve across the country, and I thank our CLI team and CLI benefactors. I appreciate the great hope Nancy has and the idea of that blank slate she mentioned.

You are a part of that hope (and the hard work it inspires). Together, we can draw upon that blank slate a thriving, brilliant future for our Church.

p.s. If you should like to read more about All Things New – please visit the official website: allthingsnew.archstl.org

by Mike School

November 18, 2022

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