All Blog Posts (75)

Parish Mission and Ministry to Veterans and Military Families

Fr. Joe Mulcrone directs Chicago's archdiocesan ministry to deaf and hearing impaired persons. A week after Veterans Day he was stopped near the end of his workout at the gym. It was a familiar voice that called him off the treadmill, that of a Viet Nam veteran.

"Hey, Father. Damndest thing just happened in church on Veterans Day. At the end of Sunday mass, Father stops everything and asks all the veterans to stand and get a blessing. People applauded! I didn't know that some people I…


Added by Daniel Gast on February 7, 2013 at 10:00am — 1 Comment

Great homily, Father!

Today I received a question from a Pastor in Connecticut:

Are you familiar with an instrument for homily evaluations, something to be given out to parishioners and filled out by them?

In addition to asking the question on our forum, I am interested to hear if anyone on this forum has experience of such an evaluation tool and can recommend something.

Many thanks.…


Added by Michael Brough on January 14, 2013 at 4:37pm — No Comments

Receiving the First Time Pastor

Some may be saying it ain’t so, but really, when your parish got a new, new pastor, odds are you drew one of the long straws.  Your sense of parish mission is about to be stretched.


Here is what we learned about first-time pastors in the INSPIRE project.  They bring energy, and they bring spiritual depth refined by a sense of anticipation and vulnerability. For what seems to them ages, they’ve been rehearsing this role, usually as associate pastors. (Chicago still enjoys the…


Added by Daniel Gast on January 8, 2013 at 12:39pm — No Comments

Not even the most talented and motivated employees can run on empty

I can't imagine anyone who works for the Church or a Catholic nonprofit feeling that they have too much on their plate ;-) but just in case you know of someone who may be experiencing fatigue at work...

There is an excellent post on the Harvard Business Review blog by Tony Schwartz, "…


Added by Michael Brough on December 11, 2012 at 4:38pm — No Comments

Recruitment and Selection Process – Why is the process important?

Recruitment and Selection Process – Why is the process important?


This question comes up frequently from the director / employer as a response to my insistence on following a proven process.

I will get comments such as:

  • It is too much work to post a position,  to go through an interview process and conduct thorough reference checks, etc.
  • I don’t have the time
  • It takes too long
  • I need someone…

Added by Marisa Ruggier-Andrews on December 7, 2012 at 7:42pm — 1 Comment

Missions that Matter

In Chicago, we are daily, weekly, conscious of the reputation we are getting. Our children are dying, victims of gunfire, and at least some of the shooters are children. Days ago, on the steps of a Catholic Church on our South Side, as a funeral service let out, two people were shot, the young man who died on the sidewalk shot 17 times.


The weekend after, a large group of parishioners arrived from another parish 30 miles to the north, just to offer solidarity and join in…


Added by Daniel Gast on December 6, 2012 at 9:46pm — 1 Comment

Professional Practice

I recently attended a professional development breakfast event organized by our provincial Human Resources Association. Attendees had the opportunity to choose 4 of 7 table discussion topics with 20 minutes per discussion. I choose the following:


Table #1 - Professional Practice:               

Aligning HR to Business Strategy with a Focus on Succession 101

Table #2 - Organizational…


Added by Marisa Ruggier-Andrews on November 16, 2012 at 2:46pm — No Comments

When the Pastor Leaves: What Lay Ministers Tell Us

We are preparing guidebooks for pastor transition. To meet a deadline, our team sent out a survey to Chicago area lay ministers in August. Late summer is not a good time to survey “parish people,” when most take their last breakaways and vacations before start-up of Fall activities.

But because the survey asked people to tell us about their experiences of learning their pastor would be leaving—all the way through to receiving and learning the ways of their new pastor—we got a nearly…


Added by Daniel Gast on November 11, 2012 at 10:10pm — No Comments

Boston Archdiocesan affiliates gather to discuss operational best practices

The Pilot diocesan newspaper in Boston reports on a recent gathering of more than 25 leaders of archdiocesan affiliates  to create connections, learn about archdiocesan resources, discuss common challenges, and review operational best practices that increase organizational sustainability.

In attendance were representatives from archdiocesan schools, including Cristo Rey Boston, Trinity Catholic…


Added by Michael Brough on November 9, 2012 at 3:32pm — No Comments

Our First Rule: Avoid Messy Parishes

Eight years ago, before we selected candidates from among pastoral staffs applying to our project, we thought it good to make a few rules. In truth, I must admit that I proposed the first one…, and that I should’a known better.

Our mission was to help parish pastoral staffs form themselves as collaborative, mission-focused “Pastoral Leadership Teams.” We would be hard pressed, I proposed, to take on any staff where the most significant actor, the pastor, is due for transition to a new…


Added by Daniel Gast on September 28, 2012 at 5:37pm — 2 Comments

Sharpen the Saw!

Today’s blog continues a summary of presentations we made in Chicago Archdiocese during the past year. We explored the INSPIRE project’s top findings about ordained and lay ministers. We asked people to consider the “one thing pastor and parish staff will always tell you, and three things they won’t…” (Later we added a fourth, which comes up in the next blog.)


The “one thing” represented various iterations of our most ubiquitous data set. One way or another, pastoral…


Added by Daniel Gast on September 18, 2012 at 9:30am — 1 Comment

We'll Talk!

Sometimes statements of parish mission get left behind, or secreted as plaques hidden in plain sight on church lobby walls.  Mission focused conversations bring the community’s dedication right to the table or the rectory parlor where pastoral persons explore possibilities, make decisions, and share commitments.

As pastoral leadership teams met to review plans and programs, our parish consultants listened. In most cases they had recommendations for improving communication. Basic…


Added by Daniel Gast on September 8, 2012 at 1:58pm — No Comments

Can We Talk?

In an effort to build shorter posts, this is a “Part 1” posting about the “Second Thing Pastoral Staffs Won’t Say.” Actually, many of them did say it, but in coded language. Once our parish consultants gained their trust, nearly every team admitted: “We could communicate a lot better than we do.” Often what they meant was, “We don’t handle conflict very well.” And for the record, some staffs came right out with it: “We haven’t learned how to fight fair!”

People working daily in parish…


Added by Daniel Gast on August 31, 2012 at 1:47pm — 2 Comments

Thank you, Dan!

What a pleasure to read Dan's fine article and to know that he continues to serve as an ecclesial lay minister in our Church! We first met years ago (in our youth), and Dan impressed me with his faith and creative energy. Having experienced the loss of many friends in Church ministry in these challenging times, I am encouraged to learn that Dan is hanging in there and is as thoughful and creative as ever! Fr. Tom Ivory

Added by Thomas P. ivory on August 24, 2012 at 9:17pm — 1 Comment

The One Thing

Please tell Daniel Gast that BUSY is an acronmyn that stands for



Added by Claude Saldanha on August 24, 2012 at 7:04pm — No Comments

You Won't Say!

When our project leaders discussed how to introduce our findings to people in the Chicago Church, we crafted a teaser title, “One Thing the Pastor and Staff Will Always Tell You, and Three Things They Won’t.” The “one thing” was about being busy, the “three things” were connected to that expressed need to be working, doing, performing.

The first “won’t” was any admission about the feeble condition of their spiritual lives. Pastoral people spend their days and nights ministering…


Added by Daniel Gast on August 24, 2012 at 3:00pm — 2 Comments

Who is YOUR "Accountability Partner"?

The new Pro Football season will soon be upon us.  Whether or not you follow sport or the NFL in particular, you are likely to have heard of Tim Tebow; perhaps the most famous back-up quarterback of all time!  An article in USA Today contains the usual celebrity content but what caught my attention was Tebow describing a friend who acts as his "accountability partner"

"My friend doesn't tell me what I want to hear. He tells me what I need to hear, and that's…


Added by Michael Brough on August 15, 2012 at 12:19pm — No Comments

The One Thing


During INSPIRE’s work with over fifty pastoral leadership teams in the Archdiocese of Chicago, we developed a number of key findings about pastors and staffs. One set of findings uncovered personal and group dynamics that either build or block collaborative expressions of pastoral leadership. We expected what rose to the top as the most pervasive finding, so much so that we tended to look past it for more “interesting” outcomes. But the project’s first visiting research professor,…


Added by Daniel Gast on August 13, 2012 at 12:47pm — 2 Comments

Who Are These People?

Overview: Parish Staffs and Pastoral Leadership Teams

The “parish staff,” the “pastoral leadership team”: who are these people? In most U.S. dioceses, it’s possible to give a different answer for nearly every parish. Most parishes have a pastor, though some may have a designated or canonical pastor who lives outside the parish and may supervise the parish administrators or pastoral ministers of several parishes. Many parishes are served by ordained deacons, who may serve on the…


Added by Daniel Gast on August 7, 2012 at 2:37pm — No Comments

Getting to Mission, A Conversation About Pastoral Leadership

Parishes should have well-defined mission statements, and their ministry programs should effectively and efficiently work toward achieving these mission statements.

NLRCM Standards for Excellence, Mission Statement and Ministry Program


As Director of INSPIRE at the Archdiocese of Chicago and Loyola University Chicago, I am privileged to serve pastors and staffs who collaborate and grow healthy expressions of parish mission.  INSPIRE is a…


Added by Daniel Gast on August 1, 2012 at 11:12am — 6 Comments

© 2019   Created by Peter Denio.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service