Archives for July 2017

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NFPC This Week, #718 – 7/23-7/29/2017

Of Note This week – 

NFPC announces theme for the 50th anniversary Convocation for Priests

The theme for the NFPC Golden Jubilee Convocation for Priests is, NFPC and the U.S. Priesthood: Looking Back – Looking Forward. Mark your calendars – April 23-26, 2018. Click here for additional information

An inquiry – pastors in transition

NFPC received an inquiry this week from a Midwestern diocese. The diocese is inquiring if there are written resources or documents that would help a parish in transition from one pastor to another. In this case the current pastor is much loved by parishioners and retiring.  At this point the parish is not looking for a program or workshop for new pastors. Rather, they are seeking a summary of “best practices” or a framework for topics that should be included in a discussion for the transition process.

If any of our subscribers or readers know of dioceses or parishes that have developed a process for pastors in transition, please contact our office at: [email protected], or call during business hours, Mon. – Fri. 8:30-4:30 CDT, 1(888) 271-6372 [NFPC]. We will share the information with the inquiring diocese.

A visit from Barbara Keebler of NACPA

From left, Alan Szafraniec, Connie Awrey, Terry Oldes, and Barbara Keebler.

On Wednesday, July 26, Barbara Keebler, Marketing Communications Coordinator for the National Association of Church Personnel Administrators stopped by our office to present us with our official copy of the National Diocesan Survey: Salary and Benefits for Priests and Lay Personnel.  The survey was commissioned by NACPA and NFPC and designed and conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA). It is the most comprehensive and thorough survey of diocesan priests and lay personnel salary and compensation benefits, excluding Catholic Charities, completed to date. The document is available in PDF and print formats from NACPA through the Bookstore tab on our website:

Council Notes from Green Bay (April 2017)

The April meeting of the Green Bay Council began with Bishop Ricken informing members of a consulting firm helping with strategic plan for schools. He spoke about Phase II of the Mission Map focusing on Formation in Discipleship. The connection of worship, mission, discipleship and service is critical. Administration is for service of the mission.

–  Two Council members and the director of New Evangelization circulated a worksheet about the Discipleship Phases I & II. Discipleship will be discussed at the Clergy Congress. The Clergy Congress will also look at parish culture and ways that pastors can assist parish leadership in forming a discipleship path with them. The culture we live in is critical to the conversation.

– Discussion took place on:

– What does it look like to be a community of disciples?

– What is a healthy discipleship culture?

– How would the diocesan newspaper, The Compass, look if it were presented from the discipleship culture?

            –  Alpha groups, a new evangelization tool for parishioners, were also discussed.

–  Finally, the parish survey was handed out. An important feature of the survey is how the diocesan curia can help parishes.

590 new priests for the US Catholic Church in 2017

Rev. Dennis Lewandowski

The number of seminarians scheduled for ordination in 2017 is up! According to the Ordination Class Of 2017 Report priestly ordinations are up by 50 men over last year. This annual report from the Georgetown University Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), presents the findings from the National Survey of Seminarians scheduled for ordination to the Priesthood every year. The survey is conducted in collaboration with the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations and CARA.

For several years, people in our country and around the world have read, or heard about, the declining number of Catholic priests.  So, it is certainly encouraging to see the number of seminarians and prepared ordinands go up.

Church statistics are important. CARA gathers data from several sources including The Official Catholic Directory (OCD), the Vatican’s Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae (ASE), and other CARA research and databases and makes it readily available.

I have been a diocesan priest since September 1985. That year 533 new priests were ordained in the United States, the total number of priests then, was 57,317 (35,052 diocesan priests, and 22,265 religious priests). Fast forward to 2016, the number of newly ordained priests was 548 for a total of 37,192 priests in the US (25,760 diocesan priests and 11,432 religious priests).

While the number of parishes without a resident pastor has continued to increase from 1,051 parishes in 1985 to 3,499 parishes in 2016, there is a silver lining. The Catholic population has grown from 59.5 Million to 74.2 million during the same time frame. Therefore, it’s time to get creative with the resources we have.

Newly ordained diocesan priests will most likely have to hit the ground running. Most of them will not have the benefit of “on the job training” for their role of pastor of a parish community.

Seminaries by design are equipped to prepare men for priesthood, but not necessarily for being pastors. Yes, candidates receive Academic, Human, Spiritual and Pastoral Formation for their ministry. However, ministry experiences in the field and academic courses together allow students to grow as they learn.

To be a pastor is a complex function with many responsibilities. The best way for a priest to learn how to be a pastor is through hands-on experience. Getting to know the people he serves is essential to his ministry for a pastor wears many hats. He is first a shepherd to the People of God, as Pope Francis calls us to be. And he must also be a good steward of the gifts received, a good manager of the time and talent of the parish pastoral council, deacons, parish staff and the lay ministers in his community.

The role of parish administrator, personnel manager and developing leadership are all functions that most priests have little to no experience in. For this reason, spending time working side by side with a seasoned pastor offers new priests the opportunity to learn and gain experience.

In the past, priests had the opportunity to spend several years effectively training as a parochial vicar before receiving their first assignment as pastor. However, it has become increasingly necessary for current pastors to reach out and offer support to newly appointed pastors in neighboring communities.

Throughout my priestly life, I have been the pastor of three very different parish communities. Each parish has offered me opportunities to grow in my love of Jesus, my commitment to shepherd the People of God, and enabled me to nurture the desire to serve the Church and make a difference.

Though today’s number of priest per parish may not be conducive to effective hands-on training, I encourage new priests to reach out to veteran pastors. Many of us will make time to share our experiences and offer guidance to you.

Father Dennis Lewandowski is a priest of the Diocese of Joliet, IL. Currently the pastor of a large corporate parish in Naperville, IL, he is known for facilitating a positive working environment and empowering others to grow. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Lewis University; a Master’s in Divinity from Catholic Theological Union, Chicago, and a Masters in Organizational Development from Loyola University Chicago.

When the Church defames her priests

Opus Bono Sacerdotii, sent us a link to an essay co-written by Joe Maher and David Shaneyfelt. Joe is founder and president of Opus Bono and David is an advisor to the priests’ support organization.

The essay essentially concerns itself with publication by dioceses of names of former priests who have had claims of sexual abuse made against them and liability incurred because of such action.

The essay currently appears on the website of Homiletic & Pastoral Review (July 21, 2017).

For the entire essay, click here.

For the Opus Bono Sacerdotii website, click here.

US bishops mourn migrants suffocated in Texas tragedy

Bishop Joe S. Vasquez, chair of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration and bishop of Austin, TX issues a statement on the death of 10 migrants that were discovered in an overheated tractor-trailer on July 22 by law enforcement in a San Antonio Walmart parking lot. The statement in part noted, “We condemn this terrible human exploitation that occurred and continues to happen in our country. In a moment such as this, we reflect upon the words of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, ‘The defense of human beings knows no barriers: we are all united wanting to ensure a dignified life for every man, woman and child who is forced to abandon his or her own land.’”

For the entire statement, click here.

St. Meinrad’s Institute for Priests and Presbyterates

Encore Priests,” a retirement preparation workshop for priests. This 4-day, 3-night workshop at Saint Meinrad helps clergy identify and personally assess the key factors that comprise this transition in their lives and ministries. August 14 – 17, 2017 and November 27 – 30, 2017 on the campus of Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology. More information at