As a community organizer assisting ministers, EDC’s Joe Ippolito recognized a shared concern: many felt unprepared for certain responsibilities of parish life—bookkeeping, budgeting, and other administrative duties. This intrigued Ippolito, whose specialty is identifying the skills, behaviors, and knowledge that professionals require in their given fields. What, he wondered, would a set of standards for Roman Catholic priests look like?
“Theological education typically addresses church history, biblical studies, and theology, with less emphasis on practical skills,” says Ippolito.
Working with academic deans from eight seminaries in the Midwest Association of Theological Schools (MATS), Ippolito recently identified nine major responsibilities of a Roman Catholic priest. The resulting In Fulfillment of Their Mission describes duties that include teaching the faith, celebrating liturgy and sacraments, and leading parish administration. The document also presents concrete demonstrations of tasks at varying levels of proficiency. “This layout is very unique,” says Ippolito. “Our MATS partners were startled when they saw all that is expected of a priest.”
In Fulfillment of Their Mission was published by the National Catholic Education Association and is being nationally disseminated. As the Catholic Church faces dwindling numbers of priests and church closings, Ippolito hopes the document will enable church leaders and members to identify and adopt tasks typically performed by priests, so that churches can remain open and active.
Funding was provided by the Wabash Center for Theological Teaching and Learning.
Originally published on October 24, 2008