From the Parish House

Leadership is crucial to the way in which we live in the world and organise our communities.  It has become abundantly clear that leadership is also going to be the key to the future of the very planet in which we live.  There are thousands upon thousands of articles and studies about what makes a good leader.  Too often leadership is recognised by its deficiencies.

For me, a leader is someone who has a vision for the future and the ability to continue to shape that vision in light of the changing human and other environmental factors that impact upon us.  In other words, a leader needs also to be adaptable, innovative and be a calculated risk taker.  A leader therefore is not afraid of being vulnerable because vulnerability is often the state in which the world finds itself.  A leader is someone who has empathy with those for whom they have been entrusted with the responsibility of leading.  A leader is not remote to the realities of those on the ground.

Pope Francis in talking about Christian leadership talks about the leader having the ‘smell of sheep’.  The leader knows the ‘joys and hopes and the griefs and anxieties’ of the flock.  And leadership has many different faces and can emerge in different circumstances.  Someone can emerge as a leader in the light of a crisis.  The practice of empathy and compassion for others can burst forth into action and leadership when the moment arises.  Leaders too, can be those who quietly support and shape the culture of the organisation.  They are consistent in their beliefs, values, and actions.  They naturally draw others to themselves.  They are non-threatening and invitational in their approach.  There are leaders also, who are ready to stand up and make a noise when things are not right, when human beings or the environment is being used and abused.  These are the leaders that speak out and do not count the cost.  They can make us feel uncomfortable, they speak an unpopular truth.  They awaken in us something we may rather not know.

This week we have been exploring leadership and leadership roles in our parishes.  Last Wednesday evening we gathered with those who had expressed interest in the new ministry of Parish Life Teams and Parish Pastoral Council.  A total of seventy-two people registered to explore these roles and discern if they are being called to this leadership at this time.  Seventy-two is a biblical number.  It is the number Luke tells us that Jesus sent forth to make known the vision or culture of God that he had come to proclaim.  Perhaps the Spirit has been at work gathering these seventy-two!  It is certainly encouraging that so many are willing to consider such leadership roles in our parishes.  We will continue to explore these leadership roles for the next two weeks, after which we will call forth those leaders and commission them in their new roles.  Your support, encouragement and prayers are asked for as we move through this process.

Similarly, on Thursday evening I gathered with our three school Principals and members of our School Advisory Councils (SACS).  Once again it was encouraging to see the number of parents who have stepped forward to take on these leadership roles.  These councils also explored ways in which our parishes schools could collaborate and strengthen one another to create even better Catholic schools for the children in our care.  We will continue to explore this collaboration over the course of this year.

Human beings look for leaders.  It is natural that we wish to be inspired, reassured, and nurtured.  Sometimes we also need to be challenged, provoked and to move beyond our comfort zone.  All of this is true not just for our parishes but for our country and our globe.

Our parish is called to leadership in order to join Jesus Christ in the proclamation of the kingdom of God.  That kingdom of freedom and justice, of love and mercy, of worship and prayer is meant for all humankind.

Each of us has our role to play and there are many ways and opportunities to be a leader.

By Fr Brendan


Parish Priest


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