How a Conversation led to Transformation

How a conversation in the Diocese of Knoxville led to a brave decision and parish transformation

As part of Leadership Roundtable’s partnership with the Diocese of Knoxville, Tennessee, we had a conversation about how we could best support local parishes. As a result, four parishes were selected to participate in Leadership Roundtable’s Catholic Standards for Excellence that equips parish pastors and staff to learn and implement best practices in management. It is one of multiple services available for pastoral leaders in the Mission Management Model.

Fr. Peter Iorio of St. Mary Parish in Johnson City, TN, was one of the pastors whose parish went forward with the program. “I was motivated [to participate] by the fact that I was a new pastor,” Fr. Iorio said. “I believed this would help us become better stewards of the resources God had given us, and achieve a more shared sense of our mission.”

The Catholic Standards for Excellence include practical tools and detailed performance benchmarks that describe how the best managed and most responsibly governed parishes operate. For example, tools aid pastors in the formation and operation of pastoral and finance councils where lay people bring their expertise and service. These councils, when managed well, help the entire parish community with planning, reduce the burden on the pastor, and promote an engaged, vibrant parish community.

Once St. Mary’s agreed to participate, Leadership Roundtable introduced the benchmarks and tools to its leadership team, and then provided educational resources, training and consultation to help the parish meet the performance indicators outlined. “Now, we have all of our advisory bodies working together to enact our mission,” said Fr. Iorio. “We are very accountable and transparent to the parish…. We have built trust among each other and mutual love.”

Many parishes and dioceses use Leadership Roundtable’s Catholic Standards for Excellence and have the opportunity to become fully accredited as St. Mary’s did. Leadership Roundtable asked Fr. Iorio what advice he would give other parishes and organizations striving for the accreditation. “It is worth the effort to work towards a valuable goal like this, and grace is at work even in the difficulties along the way,” he said. “Do not give up!”


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