By JORDAN MCMORROUGH
CHARLESTON – A review of curriculum recommendations, possible faculty members, resource centers, and course length and frequency of classes were among items discussed at the recent meeting of the Board of Directors of the Institute for Parish Leadership Development.
Ten members of the group gathered in Charleston July 11 to discuss policies and parameters for the institute and provide direction to the institute’s director, Father Joseph Wahl, CO.
Regarding a review of the curriculum, Fr. Wahl said that 55 recommendations were received prior to the meeting, and that many of the suggestions could be combined into 30 or 35 items. Suggestions were numerous on ecclesiology, with the importance of leadership and administration also expressed. Work with a curriculum consultant will develop a core of offerings with electives for special ministries, such as religious education, liturgy, and even finance. Sensitivity to culture in the curriculum was highlighted, in addition to the need to be aware of different levels of learning, as what might suit one group may not be deep enough for others. No firm time line for completing the curriculum has yet been set.
Names of possible faculty members for the institute were reviewed, although it was acknowledged that a complete curriculum will need to be developed before invitations to the faculty can be given. Questions yet to be answered include if there will be a roving faculty or if the teacher will stay at one location.
Resource centers for the institute was another major focus for its directors. However, not all sites for classes will be resource centers, which will stock print material, videos, and audio tapes. A list of 24 recommendations for the potential centers was evaluated, with perhaps one major resource center in Columbia and six or seven satellites elsewhere which could specialize in different topics, such as rural ministry. Also recognized was the need to plan for such basics as how much floor space is available, shelving, VCR’s needs, etc., as well as Internet possibilities. A future hope is the compiling of all resources at diocesan, parish, and other institutions. The resource centers could also mail requested items, with volunteers manning the sites on specific dates.
Course length and frequency of classes were reviewed, and there was again consensus among board members on a model offering four courses a year each with five classes for three years. This would call for participants to attend sessions for 20 weeks a year. This model was seen as more likely to receive a favorable response among prospective students. How many years’ participation will be required will be determined once the curriculum is in place.
“The method of teaching would require a good curriculum that largely gives overviews, presents most important material and requires a good bit of home study, and provides a future study list of resources,” stated Father Wahl.
Board members also received a paper prepared by Father Wahl in which he wrote the institute is looking into alternative methods of teaching as compared to the “live class.” These include the possibility of satellite transmission of classes and a new cyber-space approach called “distance learning.”
“The institute has tried to listen to the people, and the final design will take into account the needs they have identified,” Father Wahl said.