June 15, 2012

Catholic Evangeliazation Outreach / Ken Ogorek

Pie and coffee, professional and spiritual development are a healthy combination

Ken Ogorek“You had me at pie.”

Recently, I tried describing at a lunch table how the archdiocesan finance office and archdiocesan Office of Catholic Education were collaborating on a series of events throughout southern and central Indiana.

“Pie, Coffee and Parish Budgets: An Evening for Business Managers, Bookkeepers and Additional Parish Staff” gathered bookkeepers, parish secretaries, business managers and more for two plus hours of professional and spiritual development.

About 100 parish staff members representing more than one-third of our 148 parishes and missions participated in one of five opportunities offered at strategic locations throughout the archdiocese.

One message that was emphasized to participants drew from the Church document “Co-workers in the Vineyard of the Lord.” It is our U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ statement on lay people who serve the Church in one or more ministry roles.

“Co-workers in the Vineyard of the Lord” states clearly that ongoing formation—professional and spiritual development—isn’t a luxury for women and men who serve the faithful in Church-related duties, but rather is a necessity for this work to be effective by God’s grace.

Parish policies, practices and procedures should allow for time away as well as reimbursing reasonable costs associated with ongoing spiritual and professional development of staff members—both part time and full time, paid and volunteer.

These pie, coffee and parish budgets’ evenings are good examples of collaboration among archdiocesan offices—e.g. finance and Catholic education—as well as the fact that adult catechesis sometimes occurs within groups who share a common profession or interest—e.g. doctors, lawyers, lay ecclesial ministers, etc.

During these evenings, participants were reminded that Jesus serves as priest, prophet and king.

While all baptized persons share in this threefold ministry of Jesus, parish staff members do well to recall that they have unique opportunities to manifest Jesus in action—to be the face of our Church for those who they serve.

Does your profession require ongoing education? We all rely on workers in various fields who must constantly deepen their well of knowledge and skill.

How might you help your pastor see to it that his staff has sufficient resources for ongoing formation?

Prayer, encouragement and excellent stewardship can help your parish staff members have access to the tools they need for effective service to God’s people.

Access to reasonably priced professional and spiritual development opportunities—of reasonable frequency and duration—should be as easy as … pie!

(Ken Ogorek is director of catechesis for the archdiocesan Office of Catholic Education. Send an e-mail to him at kogorek@archindy.org.)

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