By FATHER JOSEPH A. WAHL, C.O.
I have often heard Bishop Thompson express the hope that the Institute for Parish Leadership Development would be “up and running” before his retirement. That hope becomes a reality on Monday, May 4, when the leaders from parishes throughout the Diocese of Charleston attend the first class of Course One of the Institute.
Those living in the Coastal Deanery will make their way to the Church of the Nativity on James Island on Monday, May 4. Meanwhile, that same evening, St. Mary’s in Greenville will host a group in the Peidmont Deanery. As so it will go on weekday evenings at different classroom sites. Classes are always on weekdays, not on weekends, utilizing Mondays through Thursdays.
The plan allows for people who are assigned to one group to be able to make up a missed class with another. Suppose Mary Smith is a teacher living in Greenville attending Monday night classes at St. Mary’s. She is out of state for a teachers convention and cannot be present Monday. She has a choice to drive over to St. Mary of the Angels in Anderson on Wednesday or to attend class at the Thursday session at Jesus Our Risen Savior in Spartanburg.
In announcing the schedule which appears in this week’s Miscellany, I had to let go of a plan I would have preferred. It would have been ideal to wait for the first class and let those assigned to a group decide which night of the week they would hold class. But once I began to arrange the calendar to suit the existing schedules of the places we asked to use for classes, certain days were specified as preferred or to be avoided. And so it all more or less fell into place. We were able to hold on to the benefit of having within each deanery a variety of options.
While we hope for learning purposes and community building to have participants bond together from regular attendance with one group, in our mobile society people need the choice given to Mary Smith I mentioned above six different options within a week.
All 13 parishes, schools and institutions who are hosting welcomed the Institute classes. They have provided a room large enough to accommodate 50 to 60 persons, a night a week we may use their facilities and have even generously approved the Institute making use of their audio visual equipment.
Bishop Thompson’s hope that the Institute would be up and running by his retirement will become a reality the week of May 4 to 8 when Institute participants attend the opening session, “The Call to Leadership,” as the same subject matter is taught at the 13 different locations.
It is exciting to see parish priests, pastoral administrators, their lay leaders, deacons and religious coming together to pray, to learn, to build community. As they carry away new insights into ministry, they in turn will carry home what they’ve learned to all our parishes.
God has been good. The Institute is up and running. I pray the running we do is like that the Apostle Paul speaks to in Philippians “So I run straight toward the goal in order to win the prize, which is God’s call through Christ Jesus to the life above.” (Philippians 3:14)
Father Joseph Wahl, CO, is director of the Diocese of Charleston Institute for Parish Leadership Development.