Excitement building as Institute approaches start of courses


CHARLESTON — The due date for registration forms for the first year of the Institute for Parish Leadership Development is quickly approaching.

According to Father Joseph Wahl, CO, director of the Institute, registration forms should be completed by April 5 to permit time to line up exact locations of classes and assignments of participants who need to be notified in advance.

In a memorandum sent to all pastors and pastoral administrators March 17, Father Wahl said it is hoped that pastors, pastoral administrators and associates and deacons would accompany lay leaders to the classes. These positions would include representatives of parish and finance councils, directors of religious education, youth ministers, worship committee, stewardship committee, secretaries and principals of schools.

“By this we mean one member of the parish council, a worship committee member, etc., not the entire parish council or worship committee,” he wrote.

Father Wahl said he envisioned each parish having six representatives, with the parish priest/administrator plus about five others chosen from the various parish groups. A group of six per parish would fit well with the Institute methodology which calls for group discussion, working as teams on projects, etc.,” he said.

In addition, Father Wahl pointed out that when speaking of “parishes,” he also meant other institutions, such as schools, hospitals, social service agencies, campus ministry, etc.

The Institute will hold 20 sessions throughout the year on weeks considered to be most convenient. The Christmas and Easter holidays will be avoided, and there are no summer sessions. (Exact dates for each class appeared in the March 5 edition of The Miscellany.)

Currently, classes will be held in 10 locations, however, they are not yet determined pending the number of registrations and the locations where they live.

“We hope to keep travel to a minimum. But we are a far flung diocese. Some will have to drive,” said Father Wahl.

He also indicated a preference for classes to be held on weekday nights. Although each group decides for itself which night they will meet, the Institute is avoiding scheduling sessions on Saturdays and Sundays due to the number of participants involved in weekend liturgies.

In instructing the pastors and pastoral administrators on how to “sell the Institute” to those approached to attend, Father Wahl wrote: “…The Synod of Charleston resulted from the people speaking, the bishop listening and together forming a vision of what the Church of Charleston could be. The people identified 12 areas of concern. Synod Commissions studied these issues and made recommendations. Each parish did a self study, visioned a future and drew up action plans. It is at the parish level the dream will come true in collaboration with diocesan-wide programs and excellent parish formation initiatives already in place.”

He continued, “The Institute is one of the means available to keep the vision before us and to help us all in the development of our ministerial skills as we bear witness to Christ through service.”

In a separate memorandum to invited faculty members of the Institute, Father Wahl said that in January over 100 letters of invitation were sent to prospective instructors. Of 113 replies, 56 have indicated a willingness to serve as faculty, 26 are discerning and 31 are unable to serve at this time.

In the memo, he wrote that the content of the lesson plan now being prepared must be taught at each learning site. The style of teaching will vary according to one’s gift and experience, Father Wahl added, saying, “The lesson plan is essential to acccomplish the goal of all participants hearing the same teachings, i.e. one Church, one theology. But the lesson plan is not intended to curb creativity. Each teacher must be free to share his/her own experience, to tell one’s own story.”