Saturday, July 01, 2006

The Management of Souls

Greetings from a secure, undisclosed location in North Jersey. We're barbequein'...

Happy Canada Day to all our readers in the Great White North, and hopefully all you Yanks are driving safe and having a great start to the long 4th weekend.

To business, citing the causes of the abuse crisis, BC to offer degree course in church management:
College officials say the efforts are motivated by a desire to help the church, but the program could also serve as part of an answer to occasional critics who have questioned the strength of the college's Catholic identity. The programs will be marketed to non-Catholics, as well as Catholics.

Starting this fall, BC will offer a joint master's degree in business administration and pastoral ministry, which will take three years to earn, as well as a master's degree in pastoral ministry with a concentration in church management, which will require two years of coursework. For either degree, students will take classes on both religion and management and participate in a new colloquium on the integration of religion and business.

``This comes out of BC's desire to be assisting the church," said the Rev. William P. Leahy, president of Boston College. ``I certainly hear people talking about the need for better management training."

Boston College has been among the most aggressive of the nation's Catholic universities at confronting the issues raised by the clergy sexual abuse crisis, in part because it is located in the archdiocese where the crisis erupted in 2002.

In the fall of 2002, the university launched the Church in the 21st Century program, which was later converted into a permanent research center studying issues facing contemporary Catholicism. It has drawn an estimated 36,000 people to 220 events of the academic sort not ordinarily known to draw crowds. In February, for example, an estimated 6,000 people packed into the university's hockey arena for a panel discussion on faith and public policy.

The university has also been attempting to shore up parochial schools, which are struggling in Boston and much of the country. The Lynch School of Education at BC is increasing its efforts at teacher development for Catholic schools, oversees a residential and educational program for college graduates who want to teach in Boston Catholic schools, and is helping to manage one struggling parochial school, St. Columbkille, in Brighton near the college.

And, yet again, my favorite roundtable I've never been to met clandestinely in my hometown earlier this week.... So much for openness and accountability, no?
A national organization of 225 prominent Catholics, the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management, has as one of its primary focuses the need for more professional administrative practices by dioceses. At a meeting in Philadelphia this week, the group singled out the Archdiocese of Boston for praise, in recognition of its disclosure of its finances earlier this year, and urged other dioceses to follow suit.

Thomas H. Groome, professor of theology and director of BC's Institute of Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry, said last year's meeting of the roundtable, which includes numerous prominent business leaders, prompted him to propose the church management program. Groome said Villanova University in Pennsylvania is exploring a similar program.