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Program prepares business managers to better serve parishes

By Christine Williams
Posted: 10/7/2005

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BRIGHTON — The Archdiocese of Boston began offering a new program this fall to train parish business managers so that they are better prepared to participate in their ministry.

Business managers are hired with the tools to do their jobs, but the archdiocese lacked a certification program that would meet their spiritual needs and “put them all on the same page,” said Sister Dorothea Masuret, CSJ, director of the program. Courses now address the theological, spiritual, human and skill components of formation and will give the managers a better understanding of the relationship of their parish to the entire archdiocese, she said.

“What we do is important to support the mission of the Church,” said Jack Riley, the manager at St. Agatha Parish in Milton.

Riley has worked at St. Agatha’s for three years after taking early retirement as a manager for the state in 2002. He wants to do his job well so that the priests at his parish have more time to administer the sacraments, he added.

“They can do what they were ordained to do,” he said.

Not only does Riley make sure the bills are paid, but he has also helped on several renovation projects such as installing an elevator, paving the parking lot and replacing the roof.

“There’s always something happening. No day is like the day before,” he said.

Riley added that the world is different than it was a few decades ago, and the skill set that employees need has changed. He hopes the program will fill in any gaps in the large amount of knowledge business managers need at their fingertips, he said.

The idea for a Parish Business Manager Certificate Program came out of several classes for business managers that were part of the former Archdiocesan Institute for Ministry, parts of which are now run through the Office of Religious Education.

The certificate program is run by the Office of Pastoral Ministries, which also coordinates the business manager position. Two courses will be offered one day a week so that managers will not need to travel to the classes more than once a week. The courses will last for two months and begin in September, November and March. Participants are encouraged to finish the program in one year. The courses include Parish Administration and Canon Law, the Contemporary Church in Light of Vatican II, Best Practices for Parish Business Managers, Overview of Core Catholic Beliefs, and Moral Theology and Social Justice.

Sister Dorothea said she hopes the managers will come away from the program renewed in their faith, more knowledgeable about Church policies, and aware of the part they play in building up the Church.

Arlene Dooley has been the business manager at Sacred Heart Parish in North Quincy for 10 years and said that getting together with other managers has been very helpful.

“Being in the parish, you’re alone,” she said, adding that she can ask her classmates who face the same challenges how they tackle everyday activities.

“This is very important. It energizes you,” she said about the program.