The Catholic University of America

Oral Presentation of D.Min. Treatise

Mark Rougeux

for the degree of

Doctor of Ministry

Monday, April 14, 2014

1:30p.m., Happel Room

 

abstract

 

a Workshop to equip parish staff with pastoral communication skills

 

Director: Rev. Romuald Meogrossi, Ph.D.

 

The understanding of what constitutes ministry in the Roman Catholic Church has undergone significant change, particularly since Vatican II. Ministry is no longer conceived solely in terms of administration of the sacraments and the term “minister” is no longer restricted to the ordained. In today’s parish, virtually every member of the staff, whether in a ministerial or administrative position, is considered to be part of a “total ministering community,” a term coined by the Emerging Models of Pastoral Leadership Project.

This more inclusive sense of ministry is an opportunity to educate and empower parish administrative and support staff with an enlarged sense of their participation in the ministry and mission of the church. It is also a challenge, because not all parish staff receive training to equip them to act with a ministerial presence, particularly in difficult or emotionally-charged situations in which a pastoral approach is vital.

In a “difficult” or emotionally-charged situation, not only parish support staff, but the entire parish staff, ministerial and otherwise, may be subject to the human tendency to “fight or flight.” Ministerial staff may or may not have received pastoral communication skills as part of their training, and support staff, who often act as the front line or face of the parish, are even less likely to have received such training.

In light of these issues, this ministry project offered a two-day workshop with the objective of creating or enhancing participants’ perceived connection of their work with the ministry and mission of the church, and to increase proficiency in pastoral communication skills in difficult situations. St. Patrick and Our Lady of Lourdes parishes in Louisville, Kentucky agreed to take part.

The result of pre- and post-workshop questionnaires clearly evidenced the effectiveness of the workshop in achieving the intended goals. Participants perceived a greater connection between their work and the ministry and mission of the church and a greater sense of proficiency in difficult situations. In addition, participants highly valued the information and skills which were offered, and acknowledged the need for such training. Follow-up six weeks after the workshop indicated that behavior on the job was enhanced as a result of the training.