Why CLI?

CLI Ministry Creates Opportunities for Lay Leaders to Rise Up

When asked why I work for the mission of Catholic Leadership Institute (CLI), my answer is always the same:

“I want the Church to be here for my sons and for generations to come. Catholic Leadership Institute’s ministry makes that possible.”

On the Feast of the Assumption this past Monday, I was reflecting about how Mary’s love for her Son inspired her to lead people to Him. Similar to Mary, it’s my love for my two sons that motivates me to guide others to Him for future generations through CLI’s mission.

Working at CLI, I see lay leaders across the country working so hard to bring others to Jesus every day. I look forward to bringing you insights into those beautiful moments of faith, leadership, and philanthropy that we are blessed to witness through CLI’s ministry.

Today, inspired by the Blessed Mother and the Feast of the Assumption, I introduce you to a young Philadelphia female lay leader, who is rising up at her parish to bring more souls to the loving embrace of Jesus.

READ BELOW to meet Julia – her message to young leaders (and their parents) is simple and powerful!


A Leader for the Next Generation

Catholic Leadership Institute’s Next Generation Parish (NGP) is a 4-year experience that transforms the future of the Church by offering innovative data, dynamic insight, and deep accompaniment. CLI helps parishes meet the challenges of our time through vision, planning, and action that foster spiritual maturity, shared leadership, a vibrant Sunday experience, and a missionary impulse.

Next Generation Parish also creates a channel for new leaders to rise up from the pews and come forward – often for the first time – to support the priorities of their parish community.

Julia is one of those leaders.

I heard Julia’s story in May, and I wanted to share her courage and leadership with you.

Meet Julia

Julia is a member of St. David’s Parish in Willow Grove, PA. Growing up in St. David Parish, Julia often witnessed volunteers and leaders, including her parents and their friends, caring for the life of her parish.

After attending the parish’s grade school, Julie worked in the office and, soon after graduating from college, received an invitation to join the St. David staff in a Communications role.

This was Julia’s time to rise up.

Julia joined at the perfect time to rely on her talents: the pandemic hit, Next Generation Parish work began, Fr. Matt Windle arrived as pastor, and the community needed to stay engaged through it all. Julia called upon her gifts to help her community remain united and engaged.

A member of the Next Generation Parish Envisioning Team, Julia and her teammates analyzed Disciple Maker Index results, weighed the strengths and opportunities of St. David, and set goals and priorities to move the parish forward in faith and strength. This work resulted in the development of a Priority Plan for the parish in partnership with Catholic Leadership Institute.

St. David Parish Disciple Maker Index Highlights

Below are some of the Disciple Maker Index results that informed their plan:

As a young leader participating in Catholic Leadership Institute’s Next Generation Parish, Julia is paving the way to the future for her beloved parish and in support of her wonderful pastor, Fr. Windle.

Julia was the youngest member of the team, and she felt a responsibility and call to be the voice for her generation. No longer was she watching from the pews while her parents, their friends, and the older parishioners did all the work – now, she was working alongside them.

They were a team.

Their plan was formed around three priorities:

  1. Faith Formation
  2. Outreach
  3. Stewardship

Beautiful & Amazing Participation

Within that plan, Julia has been working diligently to keep parishioners connected and increase opportunities for participation at the parish. Their goal of Outreach inspired Julia to take the lead with planning and promoting engaging events in new, creative ways.

As a result of these efforts, now St. David can draw close to 400 people at an event, they have increased Confession opportunities, Julia created Lenten and Advent resources to pray together as a community, and they reintroduced 40-hour devotions. Julia says, “Before NGP, I can’t even recall the last time Adoration was offered. The participation we saw was beautiful and amazing.”

A Joyful Vision

Julia’s favorite part of Catholic Leadership Institute’s Envisioning process was crafting a vision. St. David’s vision is inspired by this quote:

“Knowing Jesus is the best gift that any person can receive;
that we have encountered him is the best thing that has happened in our lives, and
making him known by our word and deeds is our joy.”
~Pope Benedict XVI

She shares, “Fr. Windle found this quote. And our team was like WOW. It rings so true for the work we are doing today and what we want to accomplish with Next Generation Parish. I just love how Catholic Leadership Institute helped us create our vision.

Julia’s Advice to Young Leaders

When asked what she would say to leaders like herself sitting in the pews thinking about rising up and doing more she says,

“If someone thinks, ‘Well, I would love to do something, but I’m too young,” they can’t really think that anymore. Because I am here. I am stepping up. Our parents and our parents’ friends did a lot for the parish when we were in grade school. But they can’t do it all forever. Someone has to take on the role. Get involved. It can be you. It can be fun. It can change your life.”

Next Generation Parish inspires leaders like Julia to not be afraid to rise up, lead, and have fun doing it.

On Monday’s trip to the beach to celebrate the Feast of the Assumption, my sons and I put our feet in the blessed ocean waters and prayed in gratitude for all of the leaders and benefactors in our Catholic Leadership Institute family, young and old, who guide people towards the loving arms of Jesus… just as His mother did.

by Becky Reilley

Aug 17, 2022

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