Leadership Roundtable’s Impact in a Diocese

What happens when an experienced pastor is reassigned to another parish and his skills in strategic planning or financial management go with him? Susie Veters was determined to find a way to help Catholic parishes ensure that best practices are embedded in parish systems so that when a pastor leaves, the best practices stay and a parish continues to thrive.

Susie began serving as Director of Stewardship and Parish Services at the Catholic Community Foundation for the Archdiocese of New Orleans about two years ago. Trained as an accountant and holding a doctorate in ministry, she found that parishes didn’t always follow best practices for parish administration and leadership development.

“Because of my work as a CPA, one of the things I encountered was a lack of training and best practices,” Susie noted. “Our parishes often did things in ways that were inaccurate and inefficient.”

She wanted to find a way to support parishes, “particularly our priests and pastors to prepare them for what their duties would be and give them the knowledge to determine whether administrative tasks are being done correctly.”


Archdiocesan leaders set vision

Susie contacted Leadership Roundtable and spoke with Jim Lundholm-Eades, Director of Services and Programs. Together, they planned a day in the archdiocese during which Jim would speak with Susie and her fellow colleagues from various departments. She wanted to help the archdiocese develop a plan that would support parishes across the vast reaches of its territory, from the coastal marshland to the northern border with Mississippi.

We wanted something that “could lead to systemic change and not just band-aids,” said Susie.

“Jim led a discussion on the theology of pastoral administration and gave us a new language to discuss our challenges and envision an improved future state. He presented essential best practices and initiatives we could implement to really make a difference. This was particularly helpful to our group since many of us were new in our positions.”

“What he said to us has really set the stage for how we developed our long range plan, goals, priorities, and offerings,” Susie remarked. “The goal under the type of work I do came down to two things that Jim said we needed to focus on: pastoral administration and leadership formation. And if you look at our website now, that is what you’ll see. Those are the two categories of what we offer now.”

“I am extremely grateful for his visit as I jumped into my new position because it helped me to focus on two robust priorities and to build resources and trainings under those priorities. It was a game changer.”


Pastoral leaders get training

Now, pastoral leaders in the archdiocese have more training opportunities and resources in pastoral administration and leadership formation and can share best practices with staff and parish leadership teams. Through our offerings, parish leaders discover how to be good stewards of donor resources, lead meetings, manage staff, and more. They also have an opportunity to learn about their leadership strengths and improve their abilities to lead others.

Susie appreciates Leadership Roundtable’s focus on supporting systemic change across a diocese, rather than providing isolated programs. “Because of the nature of the Catholic Church, pastors get moved,” she noted. You may have a pastor with superb administration skills, but when he is reassigned, the best practices move with him.

Instead, Susie and her colleagues are setting up systems in the archdiocese so that all pastoral leaders will be trained and can embed best practices in the parishes where they work. These days, if a pastor moves to another parish, it’s often just fine. He moves on to a new assignment, but the best practices stay and benefit parishioners both now and far into the future.


This piece was originally published in Leadership Roundtable’s 2018 Impact Report.

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