The Leader E-Newsletter aims to provide a considered reflection on the issues that are arising for lay leaders in Catholic human service and diocesan organisations.
The target audience of this E-Newsletter are lay people exercising a significant level of leadership within Catholic human service organisations (health, education and welfare) and diocesan agencies. This might include executive directors, chief executive officers, senior managers, mission directors, board, council or committee members. This E-Newsletter is edited by Maureen Cleary.
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Lay persons now occupy the principal leadership positions pertaining to vast majority of works and ministries operating under the auspices of the Catholic Church. These works encompass health, education, social services and diocesan services. Up until relatively recently, hands-on leadership was provided by the vowed religious or ordained personnel of religious congregations or dioceses.
The lack of availability of religious and clerical personnel has meant that lay persons, largely by default, now find themselves exercising a level of leadership within the ministry of the Church previously not open to them. Their role descriptions use such terms as shaping the work of the particular institution in accord with the values of the gospel or according to the ethos of the founder (of the original sponsoring congregation or diocese).
Whilst this church related development has been taking place, there has also been another set of shifts happening, relating particularly to increased government funding and more complex mechanisms of accountability – financial, professional and industrial.
These new lay leaders, then, are charged, in Salamon’s terms, with balancing the religious distinctiveness imperative with the survival imperative. This is no small demand and one for which most of them have not been prepared. Whilst this is a neat summary, the area is characterised by change, flux, ambiguity and uncertainty at every level.
In general, editorial policy would aim to portray honestly the current ambiguities and challenges.