In Part 1 of the series, I encouraged the Church needs to be a more family-friendly employer. Here is the first part of my proposal:
1) Coworkers Vs. Brothers and Sisters
“The world calls for and expects from us simplicity of life, the spirit of prayer, charity towards all, especially towards the lowly and the poor, obedience and humility. Without this mark of holiness, our word will have difficulty in touching the heart of modern man. It risks being vain and sterile.” — Pope Paul VI
I remember a retreat I attended with fellow parish and school staff led by Sr. Ann Shields. Someone asked her how we know when we have achieved good staff relationships. She said,
*WHEN YOU START TO SEE EACH OTHER AS FAMILY!!*
This is one of the things we love about where my husband currently works — everyone helps each other. No one says to the other: Sorry, but that is not my responsibility. They want for the good of the other.
Staffs and pastors should be mandated to have retreats at least once a year for at least a whole day, minimum. Once as a staff and once as individuals. This isn’t something I came up with on my own! All throughout Scripture, Jesus took time away from ministry to pray alone. I think lack of retreat is why so often parishes get stuck in a rut, not reaching out to the growing needs of their changing parishioners, struggling to realize the same approaches and programs aren’t as effective as they used to be. We all need quiet, dedicated time with the Lord and it is essential as a staff to build relationships BEYOND the coworker relationship. Retreats provide the experience of the Lord together and the opportunity to set aside distraction and grow in fellowship.
Another thing… share a meal together. Our faith is built around a meal in the Mass. Our families gather together around meals. At least once a month, gather together to share a meal!
We all have strengths and weaknesses and praise the Lord… they are not the same strengths and weaknesses. You are the pastor of the parish you pastor because God has chosen you and equipped you with whatever you need to be the shepherd of His people in that place for that time. Your staff should be chosen with the same mindset. Who do you need to help you pastor the flock? What gifts do you see in them and how can their strengths assist you in areas where you are weaker? Pastoral ministers, the same applies to you. How can you assemble teams that support you in areas where you are weaker and what strengths do you bring to the table? The goal isn’t teamwork, remember… the goal is family.
What is the protocol if you have a disagreement with someone? It is right in Scripture!!!!! Matthew 18:15-18. Go to your brother and discuss it between the two of you, alone. Only if he doesn’t listen do you involve others. Likewise in Matthew 5:23-24, if you are the one who sinned against your brother go to him! In each case, the responsibility lies with you to initiate reconciliation. This should be written in every parish handbook code of conduct !
What if someone needs to be let go? Are they destructive? Disobedient? Unwilling to grow? Unwilling to learn? Unable to enact the vision of the pastor? Ultimately the staff must surrender to the discernment of the pastor, and the pastor must surrender to the will of the Lord! In all things, charity must be exercised, but that doesn’t mean that a destructive person should still be given responsibility in ministry. The most charitable thing for that person may be to let them go so they can focus on their relationship with the Lord and discern His will in their lives.
What if you have to leave? What if you are encountering destruction, disobedience, lack of adherence to Church teaching, inability to use your gifts? What if you are simply unwilling or unable to get on board with the vision of the pastor? You also must actively discern whether God is calling you to be the one to leave.
2) Office vs. Home
It can be pretty amazing or pretty disillusioning to work at the place in which you know your life`s most important work is happening — the place by which you hope to be nourished and drawn closer to the Lord… The place you hope and pray is the vehicle by which you one day enter those pearly gates! The Church shouldn’t just be the office.. it is our home. Are we welcomed? Loved? Brought to the Truth? Shown mercy?
A lot of this is up to the pastor to set the tone of the workplace. Does he take the time to encourage others to work together? Does he share his vision? Does he make his expectations clear? Does he make prayer part of the staff work day? Does he encourage and provide constructive feedback?
And, in turn, does the staff take care of their pastor? Do they invite him to their homes? Do they let him know he is appreciated? Do they let him know what they are doing? Are they obedient to his instructions? Do they offer to help him with his needs and responsibilities? Do they help him take care of his home? Do they help him when he is ill?
Even if we are not on his staff, we can all do a much better job of taking care of our pastors.
Who takes care of their boss in such a personal way in the secular world? What industry standard do we have by which we see the boss treat his employees as though he were not simply their boss, but the person charged with being their spiritual father? Have we sterilized our parish offices so much in order to conform to secular business practices that we don’t even fully grasp the depth of what we are missing out on?! Have we forgotten our primary role and mission in this life is to help one another get to Heaven?
Or have we become so casual about our office and office relationships that we have turned in on ourselves and have an *us vs. them* mentality towards our parishioners? These are important questions to ask!
Again, we have and do work with some incredible priests, whom we truly have a deep love and admiration for – I think we have to not forget these incredible men who lay down their lives in service to us.
Deacon Ralph Poyo does an EXCELLENT parish evaluation in which he notes his experiences as a visitor. If you want more resources in this area, contact him and invest in bringing him to help you find ways to improve! http://newevangelizationministries.org
Next week, the rest of my proposal.
Copyright 2016 Noelle Garcia
About the Author: Noelle Garcia is a Catholic speaker/recording artist with World Library Publications and One Voice Media. She has worked in youth, music, and evangelization ministries for over ten years and was featured in CNN’s Latino in America and EWTN’s Life on the Rock. She currently resides in Dodge City, Kansas with her husband and four young children. Listen to Noelle’s presentation, “Getting Others to Heaven” through Lighthouse Catholic Media and visit her blog: Ministry through Vocation.