INSPIRE Director Mark Bersano and IPS Visiting Professor Rev. Willam Clark, SJ will talk about INSPIRE topics at Parish Leadership Day next Saturday, February 23. Parish Leadership Day is an Archdiocese of Chicago event for parish lay leaders to become renewed in their ministry and learn knowledge and skills to transform their parish.
Mark Bersano will run a workshop in Session A, 10:15-11:30, on what parish leaders need and what INSPIRE, Loyola University Chicago and Archdiocesan resources can assist their efforts. This workshop explores INSPIRE and offers parish leaders a forum to share their perceptions about what best supports them in their work and aids them in reaching out to potential leaders.
Father William Clark will deliver a presentation in Session B, 1:30-2:45, on “Embodying Christ: Leading Eucharistic Communities.” Our parishes celebrate the Eucharist day by day, proclaiming that Christ is embodied in His Church, embodied in our communities of faith, and present to the world around us. How, then, should we pray, work, and live together, and how can parish leadership demonstrate the depth of this call for the whole community? The workshop will integrate presentation, reflection, and discussion.
Parish Leadership Day 2013 will be held Saturday, February 23 at Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School, 3737 West 99th Street, Chicago. It is open to all Archdiocesan lay leaders; contact your parish if you wish to attend.
Following the retirement of Daniel Gast on December 31, 2012, former Assistant Director Mark Bersano assumed the mantle of Director.
Additionally, INSPIRE lost two of its Lead Team members during 2012. Carol Fowler retired on June 30, 2012, as Director of the Department of Personnel Services for the Archdiocese of Chicago. Robert Ludwig served as Director of the Institute of Pastoral Studies (IPS) at Loyola University Chicago from 2008 through the Spring 2012 semester. He currently remains a full-time faculty member.
INSPIRE held its annual Summer Day Away Event on Tuesday, June 12, 2012. Designed as a day of informal formation, conversation, and team learning, the goal is for parish teams to spend time together out of the workplace. Dress code is casual, “picnic” dress, and Pastoral Leadership Teams are encouraged to share a boat ride, concert, dinner, or a play together in the city after the convocation. The general theme of the day was how to more carefully understand and invite parishioner participation in the mission and work of the parish.
The morning session was guided by Dr. Eileen Daily from the Institute of Pastoral Studies (IPS) and INSPIRE Assistant Director Mark Bersano. Its focus was on renewing parish life in the digital age. Strategies and resources for forming people in faith with the use of technology were explored, including outreach to young people through blogs, Facebook, and Twitter. Dr. Daily stressed the idea that the message of the Church must always come first, and the method of delivery and media format, though secondary, must absolutely be considered to successfully reach an intended audience. In today’s world, delivery of the message through digital media is especially important when reaching out to young persons. Mark Bersano unveiled and demonstrated the new INSPIRE web site, www.inpsireproject.org, to exemplify the use of these technologies.
Dr. Daily also introduced a new mobile app (art/y/fact.Xn) that she developed to explore and deepen one’s understanding of Christian art. The app, which works on on iOS and Android smartphones and tablets, is a portable guide for interpreting themes and historical contexts in art, relating them back to theological principles, and offering opportunities for reflection and meditation. Convocation participants were able to experience the app through interpreting different depictions of the crucifixion.
The afternoon session invited participants to get a better sense of the faithful in Catholic parishes. Lucas Sharma, a Loyola University Chicago sociologist, spent substantial time interviewing parishioners in two very different Chicago parishes. He gained important insights into the positive impact parishioners have on the mission, viability, and identify of the parish. Panelists Sharma, Dr. Diane Maloney of the Institute of Pastoral Studies at LUC, and INSPIRE visiting professor Dr. William A. Clark, SJ gathered the audience for discussion and interaction on inviting parishioner participation. Dr. Maloney meditated the conversation, while Dr. Clark reflected on INSPIRE’s learning in light of Sharma’s research findings.
The Lilly Endowment, Inc. held its concluding event for the Sustaining Pastoral Excellence (SPE) program that it initiated in 2002. The program invested $125 million in pastoral leadership for mainline Christian denominations across the United States. INSPIRE was one of 63 total projects sponsored by the program. Several INSPIRE participants were prominently featured in the film created to honor and publicize the accomplishments of the SPE initiative.
INSPIRE received a $2 million grant in 2004, and a $1 million dollar sustainability grant in 2008. In it’s nine years, INSPIRE will have worked with more than 43 parish-based teams in the Archdiocese of Chicago, and has accumulated substantial data on the connection between collaboration and vitality in Catholic parishes.
INSPIRE is on track to become a University Center of Excellence for Parish Leadership and Mission at Loyola University Chicago in 2012. The partnership between Loyola and the Archdiocese of Chicago will continue to be supported in this process.