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Santa Clara, CA--Nearly 100 Catholic leaders from a wide array of professional fields gathered at Santa Clara University for the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management 2013 Annual Meeting to consider how lay and ordained leadership might collaborate more closely to address the challenges facing the Catholic Church in the US.
Following the opening prayer from JP Morgan partner and Leadership Roundtable trustee Betsy Bliss, and a welcome and introduction to the Annual Meeting from Kerry Robinson, the Leadership Roundtable’s executive director, a group of three board members offered an update on the organization’s programs and resources. Susan King, dean of the journalism school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and secretary of the Leadership Roundtable board of directors, highlighted the Leadership Roundtable’s Catholic Standards for Excellence and the continued growth in the number of parishes, dioceses, and nonprofits utilizing Leadership Roundtable resources. Joining her were Charles Geschke, co-founder of Adobe Systems, who offered candid insight about the demographic challenges facing the Church, and Geoff Boisi, founding chair of the Leadership Roundtable, who announced the launch of an endowment-style investment tool for Catholic entities nationwide. Participants in the plenary session weighed in on the issues, offering ideas and insights for close to an hour as to how the Leadership Roundtable might continue to make progress in advocating and implementing best practices.
Chris Lowney, a former managing director of JP Morgan, led a conversation about leadership and the Church. Lowney, a former Jesuit seminarian, raised topics covered in his book Heroic Leadership: Best Practices from a 450-Year-Old Company that Changed the World.
Most of the Annual Meeting was held inside Santa Clara’s business school, continuing a tradition of choosing business schools to host the gathering that began with the Wharton School in 2004.
During lunch held inside the campus museum, the Leadership Roundtable’s young adult program, ESTEEM, was featured with a panel that included two ESTEEM alums, a campus minister and site leader, and an ESTEEM mentor. ESTEEM, Engaging Students to Enliven the Ecclesial Mission, is a joint venture with Saint Thomas More Catholic Chapel & Center at Yale University, and is currently active on 11 campuses throughout the US. The ESTEEM alums described how the program empowered them to be active leaders in their faith communities following graduation from Stanford University, an ESTEEM campus site.
The next roundtable conversation focused on Church finances. Leadership Roundtable founding trustee Tom Healey facilitated the conversation. He was joined by Patrick Markey, the executive director of the US Bishops’ National Collections Office; Brian Hughes, who leads the Leadership Roundtable’s strategic investment advocacy; and Mary Quilici Aumack, the executive director of the Catholic Community Foundation of Santa Clara County. The conversation touched on best financial practices at every level of the Church, from international organizations to parish life.
The Jesuit author and commentator Fr. Tom Reese led a robust conversation on the challenges facing Pope Francis as he attempts to reform the Roman curia. With his customary wit and drawing on his years covering the Vatican as editor of America magazine and author of several books about the Church, Fr. Reese predicted that the road to reform would be challenging but possible. Most Rev. Stephen Blaire, bishop of Stockton, CA, presided at Mass held in Santa Clara’s Mission Church. A number of priests attending the Annual Meeting concelebrated. Bishop Blaire preached about the many distinct ways Catholics are called to be leaders in the Church.
A hallmark of Leadership Roundtable meetings are the workgroups, where participants gather in smaller settings with a subject expert to discuss, collaborate, and focus their energy on a range of issues important to Church management. These groups, always highly praised by attendees, often lead to new programs, initiatives, and professional relationships. At the 2013 Annual Meeting, topics included strategic investing, the spirituality of Catholic fundraising, parish finance councils, Catholic schools, engaging senior level executives in the life of the Church, and intercultural leadership skills in today’s Church. Findings, recommendations, and insights from these workgroups are being collected and will be published later this summer.
The 2014 Leadership Roundtable Annual Meeting will be held June 24-26, 2014, at Loyola University Chicago.
During the Annual Meeting, the Leadership Roundtable honors individuals or organizations that live out ideals of transparency, accountability, collaboration, service, and other characteristics of well-run, action-oriented entities. This year, the Leadership Roundtable Best Practices Award was presented to two honorees: CSJ Ministries and the Sobrato Family Foundation. CSJ Ministries is the umbrella organization that oversees dozens of ministries run by the religious women who are part of the Congregation of Saint Joseph, ensuring that their good works will continue for decades more. The Sobrato Family Foundation is a philanthropic leader in the Bay Area, and it was honored for its innovative approach to charitable partnership to achieve greater good.
The full proceedings from the 2013 Annual Meeting will be published later this summer and posted on the Leadership Roundtable website. Vide of each panel and presentation will be available soon, as will audio from the workgroups. Visit www.theleadershiproundtable.org/2013annualmeeting for updates and more information about the 2013 Annual Meeting.
Last year, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI addressed the role of lay people in the Catholic Church, calling for “a mature and committed laity” that contributes to “the apostolic aim of the Church in its entirety” through an “active co-responsibility” with ordained leaders. This year, Pope Francis began his pontificate with the reminder: “Let us never forget that authentic power is service...”
In the context of the Church in the United States, Catholic laity thrives at the highest levels of every industry and sector, yet we, as the Church, are just beginning to understand how we might incorporate this wealth of talent and expertise in service to the Gospel mandate. The National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management exists precisely for this purpose, and we are heeding Our Holy Father’s call at our 2013 Annual Meeting, A Call to Communion, where we will explore ways that laity might work, in accordance with the Pope’s own words, “as people who are really ‘co-responsible’ for the Church’s being and acting.” We will convene top Catholic leaders, celebrate successful co-responsibility in the Church, promote best practices, and identify proven solutions to contemporary management challenges.
In this Year of Faith, how do lay people understand their ecclesial rights and responsibilities? What can lay people offer the Church and how can ordained leaders create environments that celebrate and make use of these gifts? Will our parishes transform into vibrant, mission-driven spiritual homes? How can lay and ordained Catholics work together to restore trust, create new solutions to temporal challenges, and spread the good news? How can we work together to revitalize the Church, lift up the poor, and integrate the New Evangelization into all that we do?
At the 2013 Annual Meeting, keynotes, panelists, and participants will engage in dialogue to make recommendations that strengthen the role of the laity in response to Our Holy Father’s call. Together, we will examine best practices in diocesan planning, the effectiveness of pastoral and finance councils, innovations in strategic investment opportunities, the dynamic role of Catholic philanthropy, strengthening Catholic school management, and other ways that the laity can be of service to the Church.
Join us. Be part of the solution. Work for the good of the Church.