Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 19, 2006
Taking gifts out into the world is essence of parish ministry – brother
By VIRGINIA BATTISTE
Special to the WCR
The Church's mission begins when the priest proclaims, "Go, the Mass is ended," a Trinitarian brother told parish leaders from across the Calgary Diocese.
Brother Loughlan Sofield said ministry is often too narrowly defined as involvement in the Church.
But for Sofield, ministry means doing whatever is needed, to show care and concern whether in the Church or outside in the world.
Taking ministry gifts out into the world becomes the essence of the mission of the Church, which is to reflect Jesus to the world, he said.
Mission of the parish
Where believers go and how they bring the presence of Jesus to the community beyond the church doors, reveals how the parish sees its mission, he said.
Sofield, a member of the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity, is a workshop facilitator, author and senior editor of Human Development magazine.
He spoke to parish leaders who attended a TEAM (Together Enabling Adults for Ministry) weekend at the FCJ Centre in January.
The TEAM program, a collaborative project between the FCJ Centre and the Diocese of Calgary, provides training for parish leaders through monthly weekends at the FCJ Centre.
The training covers a wide variety of topics of interest to parish leaders. Sofield's presentation was on collaborative ministry and dynamics of Christian community building. He addressed the role of the leader in building community through collaborative ministry.
Sofield told the group that burnout isn't the result of overwork. The real culprit is unrealistic expectations that people set for themselves.
Burnout, he said, can be identified by obsession with work, exhaustion, depression and terminal cynicism.
But collaborative ministry means using the gifts available in the parish in specific ministry for the purpose of mission, Sofield said. The role of the leader is not to do everything him or herself, but rather to help others discover their gifts and to enable those gifts to be used in ministry.
Where a parish is unclear of its mission, there is both a dullness, and a failure to provide a life-giving witness in the world, Sofield said. Often, too, there is burnout in leaders because while 100 per cent of people are gifted, only about 10 per cent of the giftedness is being used for ministry and mission.
Collaboration is key
Working together in a collaborative way is more challenging than having leaders do it all themselves, says Sofield. People are so different there is bound to be disagreements and conflict.
Conflict usually results from a person's sense of value and worth being challenged or threatened, he said. Parishes often do not deal with anger and hostility well because they don't want to face it.
Transforming communities, however, are able to share faith, affirm gifts in one another and become disciples of forgiveness, he said.
People do not grow in faith in isolation. But because parishes do not always understand group dynamics, they lose effectiveness.
Training leaders to lead collaboratively is part of the answer to the dilemma, Sofield said.