If all goes as planned, the Institute for Parish Leadership Development will begin Course Two right after Labor Day.
Classes for Course One concluded in February 1999. It took some time to study and analyze the individual evaluations of some 200 participants. The evaluations by those who earned their Certificates of Recognition for completing Course One were very positive. They especially noted as highlights of Course One the community building aspect, group discussion and enthusiasm of the presenters or teachers. They said they came away with an expanded knowledge of their faith and the Church. In short, they believed the Institute helped them to grow as leaders. Of great value also were the suggestions the Course One graduates made for Course Two.
In the spring the Curriculum Committee of Father Sandy McDonald, Sister Mary Laura Lesniak, and Sister Susan Schorsten completed the Course Two design. The program booklets went to the printer in mid-May.
Every pastor/pastoral administrator received six copies of the Course Two program and a request that they invite parishioners in leadership positions in the parish to participate in the program from September 1999 to February 2000.
In between these tasks, those who served as Institute facilitators last year have indicated if they will be able to serve this coming school year. And those who served as presenters/teachers in Course One have been invited to serve again. Next we will have a talent search to put together the very best faculty possible. Lesson plans will be well planned.
Course Two builds on the first course. Topics to be covered include the following: Ministry: Lay and Ordained; Family; Women in the Church; Communications; Youth and Young Adult; and Ecumenism. All of these were topics identified by the Synod of Charleston in 1995 as central issues facing the Diocese of Charleston. To the above six topics, the Curriculum Committee added three subjects which have moved to the forefront in the Church since the Synod concluded in 1995 regarding Collaboration; Multi-Culturalism and Diversity in South Carolina and Small Faith Communities.
Even though some 200 completed Course One, I realize many of our people in the diocese are not too familiar with the Institute for Parish Leadership Development. It is an effort which was a dream of the Synod between 1992-1995.
In February 1996 Bishop David B. Thompson in his pastoral letter “Enthusiasm for the Faith” announced a plan/design for implementing the vision of the Synod of Charleston. The plan included the inauguration of the Institute for Parish Leadership Development, which became a reality with the beginning of Course One in May 1998.
God has blessed us abundantly. The Institute strives with God’s help and the cooperation of many to provide educational programs and formational experiences to the people of God in our parishes who step forward to use their gifts in service to the Church, the body of Christ.
I ask you to pray for God’s blessing as we strive to accomplish the vision. We need participants, teachers, volunteers for Course Two. We trust God will provide as he did for Course One.
Written by Oratorian Father Joseph A. Wahl, director of the diocesan Institute for Parish Leadership Development.