The Toolbox for Pastoral Management is for new Catholic pastors who understand that management skills are essential for creating and sustaining the dynamic and vibrant parish that is vital for living out the Gospel.


As the visible leader of the parish community, the Catholic pastor works to bring his people to Christ and to ensure that the parish community strives to develop and accomplish its pastoral mission. He does not do this alone; every parish member must bear responsibility for its struggles and success. However, the pastor must call for the gifts and participation of the parish community and motivate, enable and affirm th em in their efforts.

New York Times

From a January 2014 article on the Toolbox:

Father Holmes was drawn to the project because he was seeing young priests being given too much responsibility. When he was ordained, 32 years ago, many priests got decades of on-the-job training before being given parishes of their own.

“You had a 25-year apprenticeship,” Father Holmes said. “You had two or three pastors to learn from. By the time you became a pastor of a parish, you were 51 years old. You had seen a budget!”

But the priest shortage has left a bad knowledge gap.

“There are no more apprenticeships,” Father Holmes lamented. “It’s like three years from ordination to being a pastor.”

Cooperation with the pastoral and finance councils, other committees and staff, as well as diocesan offices and agencies, is essential for the pastor’s leadership role.

As the Bishops of the United States have stated, “Pastors need skills, for example, in communications and ad-ministration. They need practical wisdom, for example, to translate general norms into their particular situation. They n eed presence and availability to their people, so that they can be effective sacramental signs of the Church’s unity and the Good Shepherd’s care. Finally, they need spiritual transparency or an evident spirituality that enables them to be unambiguous witnesses of the holy mysteries that they proclaim and celebrate” (USCCB, Basic Plan for the Ongoing Formation of Priests).

In Pastores Dabo Vobis, Pope John Paul II addressed the need for ongoing formation which “is demanded by the priestly ministry seen in a general way and taken in common with other professions, that is as a service directed to others. There is no profession, job or work which does not require constant updating, if it is to remain current and effective.”

A Toolbox for Pastoral Management is a step toward that updating.

New pastors can reap measurable benefits from strengthening critical skill sets in the areas of administration, finance, and personnel management, as such education cannot fail to assist parishes in their stewardship of human and financial resources.

A dozen experts in various fields will be presenting on such topics as a theology of management, stewardship, internal financial controls, risk management, building finance and pastoral councils, as well as standards for excellence from which every parish, and its pastor, can benefit.

Hosted by Seton Hall University and The Leadership Roundtable, this weeklong conference is designed specifically for first-time new pastors. A recipient of a generous grant from Lilly Endowment, the Toolbox is offered free of charge to the first 30 pastors who register. Registration includes workshop, meals and lodging.

The tentative schedule of presentations includes:

  • A Theology of Management
  • A Sixth-Month Game Plan
  • Stewardship and Communication
  • Unity in Diversity
  • Financial Controls
  • Risk Management
  • An Evangelizing Parish
  • A Pastor’s Well-Being
  • A Mission-Driven Church
  • Catholic Standards for Excellence
  • Building Pastoral and Finance Councils
  • Managing Multiple Parishes
  • Human Resources 101
  • Getting Started with the Business Office