Upskilled priests to manage mission

Fr James McCarthy
Fr James McCarthy at a dinner hosted by ACU for graduates of the management course for not-for-profit professionals. PHOTO: Alphonsus Fok

Parish administrator of St Michael’s Parish Meadowbank, Father James McCarthy, says that the Graduate Certificate in Management of Not-for-Profit Organisations at the Australian Catholic University (ACU) has prepared him for more effective evangelisation.

“[It has helped] me see the need for professionalism and structure when undertaking pastoral ministry and church administration, while also ensuring that the needs and hopes of the flourishing of each person are discovered and planned for within the Church’s mission,” he told The Catholic Weekly.

Father McCarthy, who also fulfils two finance-related archdiocesan roles, graduated from the course early last year.

ACU management course team
Supporting priests: (left to right) associate director of executive education Maree Najem, senior consultant executive education Gillian McGaughey, executive director strategic partnerships and executive education Tom Ristoski, national head Peter Faber Business School Professor Susan Dann AM, senior consultant executive education Greg Baynie. PHOTO: Alphonsus Fok

He says it has changed everything from the way he prepares meetings to the way he interacts with others on the various committees he serves.

See related article: Priests get management skills for future flourishing

Completing the course while juggling his other responsibilities was “no walk in the park”, but he said it was possible with only the occasional loss of a day off or the Friday Night Footy.

ACU’s Director of Strategic Partnerships and Executive Education, Tom Ristoski said that the role of the parish priest is changing and with it the expectations of the faithful who want their priests to understand basic management skills and adopt modern governance practices.

“We have met priests who didn’t know whether they could afford to upgrade specific facilities within their parish,” he said.

Planning workbook
Priests and lay leaders are increasingly expected to be capable of high-level management for serving 21st century parishes and church agencies.

“Some priests said that they weren’t fully aware of what their parish finance council was discussing at meetings.”

He said the course suits also suits lay leadership staff, providing full credit into the Executive Master of Business Administration, for students who expect to move into executive management roles.

“Further study in areas of strategy, risk management, data and digital communication will be possible for those seeking to consider their social and community obligations and how they are contributing to the greater role of servant leadership,” said Mr Ristoski.

Classes are starting up again later this year and Father James said he would “strongly recommend” the course to “any priest at any stage in his priesthood”.

“The more someone puts into it with research, assignments and reflection on personal experiences of parish and ministry, the more fun and worthwhile the course will be,” he said.