Real Life of a Regional Lay MinisterNovember 9th, 2012
In June this year our NW Dayton Pastoral Region truly became a reality as Precious Blood, St. Paul’s and St. Rita’s parishes and Mother Brunner school came together definitively as a region. As director of adult faith formation, and the first regional employee, these past months have been both incredibly challenging, and very fulfilling. My candid thoughts so far on what parish regionalization from the staff perspective is like:
I knew this role was going to require organizational skills, so I’m very glad for those God-given talents. It’s amazing – and very cool – how all the abilities I have developed over the years are culminating in this position. Still, at times I wish I had spreadsheets of where my food and book supplies are; nothing like being at one parish and realizing I wanted that DVD now five miles away! At the same time, since our staffs are trying to not schedule too many programs at the parishes on top of each other, keeping it all straight is both more essential and more chaotic!
The people of the parishes never cease to humble me. Their spiritual hunger, desire to know more about their faith and their willingness to serve are impressive. Those over the age of 75 who are determined to keep learning continuously amaze me. Yep, change is tough for everyone, but when fears are listened to, heard, and treated compassionately most seem to be pretty willing to understand and compromise.
Still, at times it’s difficult to convince some people that I am equally concerned about all THREE parishes, and don’t favor one over the other. I learn repeatedly how essential are hospitality and an endlessly welcoming attitude. It’s also difficult in these early days for some of the staff to remember that we can’t think just parochially anymore, but must keep the bigger picture in mind… that this work is now about more than the previous “us.” Regionalization also requires pretty immense collaboration among staffs. This isn’t a bad thing at all, but it is also beyond what most are used to. It WILL take time!
Dealing successfully with four entities requires incredibly good communication systems. Keeping people in the loop is a full-time job in itself. Picking up mail and phone messages when one is constantly bopping around can be rather tricky.
So, I’m very grateful for my laptop! Not only does it hold my never-ending to-do list and is my primary communication device, it is constantly in use for presentations. “Have projector, will travel,” is my new motto. That said, trying to get all the technology to work together – equipment, software and networks – is sometimes a nightmare. I’m also so glad I have a station wagon to haul all the STUFF around!
Let’s be honest. At some (many) times of year trying to work only 40 hours a week is just not going to happen. I’ve become even more grateful for my wonderful, understanding husband, who knows that a vocation means sacrifice as well as joy. I’m also glad he doesn’t mind crockpot meals several nights a week.
It’s all a challenge…..but still, I always was up for a challenge, right God? And if God is for us, who can be against? As long as we have that kind of support, how can it not work out? Please pray it does!