Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 4, 2002
Pastoral work calls for tact
Parish workers learn how to communicate in a caring manner
By RENATO GANDIA
WCR Staff Writer
After having worked for seven years as a pastoral assistant at our Lady of the Foothills Parish in Hinton, Roni Iwanciwski considers the people as the best part and also the heartache of her ministry.
"You have to deal with everybody and when people come (to the parish office), they expect you to be a certain way," she told the WCR.
In other offices, one does not probably have "to worry about people's feelings as much." But in the parish office, demands and expectations for pastoral approach is high, Iwanciwski said.
Good pastoral communication skills are required for parish workers. To meet this need, the archdiocese sponsored a workshop for pastoral assistants, secretaries, and business managers of different parishes on Oct. 24.
Sister Bernadette Laframboise and Evelyn Marcon of the Redemptorist Centre for Growth facilitated the workshop attended by more than 50 parish workers. They discussed different issues in parish ministry and how to use pastoral approach in communication.
Iwanciwski appreciated the conflict resolution portion of the workshop and found the talk on conflict within oneself particularly interesting.
She learned that if ministry is not congruent with one's being and spirit, then it's time to look somewhere else.
"That empowers you to make a good decision and to trust your intuition that it's good for you."
St. Anthony/St. Agnes Parish secretary Judy Murza said, "The workshop certainly is filling. We're able to review skills that we know, but we don't always (use)."
She recognizes the importance of good communication skills and leaves room for doing things better. "I've done workshops for years and it's always helpful to attend one like this."
Added Sherwood Park's Linda Batdorf, "It gives us the tools to take back to the office when we deal with issues between co-workers, parishioners and other members of the team in ministry.
"We're given a process that we can sit back and take a healthy look at the situation and not sort of run always on energy, feeling or self-interpretation of an issue," said the pastoral assistant at OLPH.
Don Wong, business administrator at St. Anthony/St. Agnes agreed, saying, "This workshop will be helpful for us in terms of understanding and handling issues and conflicts more effectively."
Wong started working for the parish two months ago. He believes the gathering of different parish workers is a good way to build community.
"I came here today not just to know things, but to know others too and to share our different experiences in the parishes," he told the WCR.
Iwanciwski felt the same way. "Just knowing that there are others out there who are experiencing the same joys and the same difficulties in ministry and that we can become a supportive group for each other is really helpful.
The workshop began with a Mass presided by Archbishop Thomas Collins, who also commissioned the parish workers with special prayers and blessing.