Walking with Leaders - November 5th, 2020

"I can do all things through him who gives me strength." (Phil 4:13)

Savannah Priests and Parishes Respond, Reflect, and Rise Up

In May, we introduced you to priests of the Diocese of Savannah, who are part of Called for More, the offering Catholic Leadership Institute has been piloting with four dioceses.

Based on the premise that we all are "called for more," the offering provides the opportunity for all priests, regardless of role or tenure, to reflect on their own experience, preferences and passions, and to gain feedback from peers and from an objective questionnaire. Parishes complete the Disciple Maker Index and a survey of key leaders, which provide the pastor and parish a view of values along with parishioner faith journey and engagement. The diocese gains a comprehensive view of priests and parishes with supporting data. The visibility of this information can transform the process for planning transitions, and provide for the support and development of priests so they thrive in future roles.

In May, priests and parishes had completed their input. From June through August, Catholic Leadership Institute consultants provided parishes guidance on the Disciple Maker Index data and facilitated discussions to help identify parish strengths and opportunities. We also met with small groups of priests to review their information and begin thinking about personal growth plans. Priests received a summary of feedback from peers plus an objective report from a third party that specializes in talent science.

We recently went back to the Diocese of Savannah to hear what priests had to say.

“This information is great!” says Fr. Pablo Migone, Chancellor and Vocations Director. “It gives the diocese all the information we need and helps us understand how we see ourselves.”

Fr. Scott Winchel, pastor of St. Joseph’s Parish in Macon, GA, reflected on his own feedback and the information for his parish. “The information is very good. This is a nice thing to be given and have an opportunity to reflect on the feedback. Now with this information, what would be my plans and goals.” Fr. Scott says this information would go really well with a priest or deanery retreat to provide time to reflect on goals.

He also commented on the Disciple Maker Index for his parish. “The DMI data we reviewed added to the initial ideas we brainstormed from our pastoral council. There is a lot of information available for us to use which will become our priorities for the next two to three years.”

Fr. Dan Firmin, Vicar General and pastor of St. James parish in Savannah, says this will help priests as they change parishes: “To have even the parish profile we now have would be extraordinarily helpful to walk into a new parish.” Regarding the new Bishop who was recently installed in the Diocese of Savannah, Fr Firmin says, “This information will be extremely helpful to the new Bishop.”

With the pandemic and schools reopening, pastors are juggling new rules at the parish and in schools. The upheaval and change have made it challenging to spend time with all the information available to them and their parishes. The Disciple Maker Index has provided focus for parishes and a way to engage their parishioners.

As they have time to reflect on their own personal growth, we pray they find all they have learned as a source of inspiration and confidence in their ministry!

by Terry Poplava

November 05, 2020

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