Priorities and Practical Strategies for Diocesan Catechetical Leaders

Authored by Marie Powell & Michael Steir in Issue #35.3 of The Sower

The following article is an abridged text from a webinar created by the authors to orient new diocesan educational and catechetical leaders to principles for effective leadership. While the first part of the webinar gives an overview of the key ecclesial documents and focuses on evangelization, catechesis and inculturation, we highlight here the second part explaining the seven keys to diocesan leadership. These are particularly helpful to our readers who are involved in diocesan leadership positions but are also more widely applicable. The link for entire webinar is available for download on the USCCB’s website found at the end of this article. We thank the authors for sharing these insights with readers of The Sower.

On April 17, 2008, during his apostolic visit to the United States, Pope Benedict XVI gave an address to Catholic educators at The Catholic University of America. In very direct language the Holy Father laid out a vision of a Catholic educational institution. Early in his address he proclaimed that education is integral to the mission of the Church to proclaim the Good News. First and foremost, every Catholic institution is a place to encounter the living God who reveals his transforming love and truth in Jesus Christ.

As diocesan leaders consider the goals and achievements of their work, doing an evaluation of whether formational programs in our administrative care actually proclaim the Good News and cause students, teachers, and families to encounter Christ is an essential starting point. As Pope Benedict emphasized, Catholic identity is a question of conviction. He urged Catholic educators to reflect on whether our Catholic institutions and programs motivate people to commit themselves entirely to God, have tangible expressions of Faith, and give fervent expressions to Faith through liturgy, sacraments, prayers, acts of charity, concern for justice, and respect for God’s creation. The vision of Catholic education the Holy Father described can assist diocesan catechetical or school leaders to focus on goals for their work.

In this article, we shall examine seven key areas of leadership, which encompass most, if not all, of the roles of diocesan catechetical leaders. These administrative areas are imbedded in the General Directory for Catechesis, the U.S. National Directory for Catechesis and Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us. The seven diocesan leadership areas we will address are: planning, policies and guidelines, coordination, communications, research, personnel, and evaluation.

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