I will appoint over you shepherds after my own heart,
who will shepherd you wisely and prudently.

—Jeremiah 3:15

In the 2011 Chapter, the USA-Canada Province of the Claretian Missionaries wrote as a general objective: “Faithful to our charism, as servants of the Word, we aim to increase our ministerial presence and pastoral activities in the future.” This objective recognizes the heartfelt desire of the Claretians to respond to the urgent needs of God’s people in the Church today. This includes reaching out to the poor, to those marginalized in the Church today, and to those communities where pastoral leadership is needed.

As way to foster a continually deepening pastoral response to God’s people, the Claretians have embarked on a journey to develop models for fostering leadership in their apostolic sites. These range from parishes . . . to campus ministry . . . to community programs in teaching and service to the poor, the at-risk youth, and the homeless.

One effective model of leadership was developed by one of our pastors in Chicago 10 years ago, and is currently being integrated at two other Claretian parishes in the country. The model calls for a collaborative team effort between Claretians and lay leaders. The model first and foremost recognizes that every community of faith has been endowed with people capable of articulating a common vision and of engaging others in discerning their mission as witnesses of Christ. This leadership model relies on having leaders participate in a series of sessions that focuses on developing skills for listening, imagining, and discerning—as well as learning how to implement social analysis and active theological reflection.

Participants also spend time reflecting upon their experience of being called to serve, fostering professional relationships, and their own faith journey. The leaders work together to develop a style of mission that is inclusive and promotes pastoral activity where responsibilities are shared. In addition, a collaborative model of young adult leadership is being initiated within a developing, Claretian, parish-based volunteer program; this will also be incorporated into a Claretian National Youth plan.

This is a radical change from the ways things have been done in the past when the Pastor made all the decisions. Now everyone has to get involved and “own” the Gospel!

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