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Pastoral ministry degree program adds specialty in administration

Publication: Catholic News Service

September 18, 2006

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CALDWELL, N.J. (CNS) -- Recognizing a growing need in the church, Caldwell College has added courses in church administration to its graduate pastoral ministry program.

Caldwell is a 2,300-student Catholic college founded by the Dominican Sisters in the Newark Archdiocese. Its 17 graduate programs have about 600 students, including 21 enrolled in the 36-credit master of arts program in pastoral ministry.

Dominican Sister Barbara Moore, coordinator of the program, said the new offering, developed jointly by the college's theology and business departments, "will enable prospective students who choose to work in various church administration positions to be well-grounded in theology as well as in the skills needed in areas of administration."

The four-course segment in church administration will consist of two already existing courses, "organizing as ministry" and "psychological aspects in ministry," plus two new offerings: "nonprofit law, governance and financial management" and "marketing, public relations and administration for nonprofits."

Sister Barbara said students in the pastoral ministry program range from volunteers to those who are preparing for ministry as a second career.

In the past several years there has been a growing recognition of a need for more professional training in finances, administration and human resources management in U.S. Catholic parishes and dioceses.

In a recently published study of U.S. priests ordained five to nine years, sociologist Dean R. Hoge of The Catholic University of America in Washington found that their most frequent recommendation to seminaries was to teach more about church administration and leadership and interpersonal skills. They felt they were well formed in theology and pastoral ministry but not in the nuts and bolts of running a parish.

Sister Barbara said "it's very possible some young priests" might want to take the nonprofit administration courses with Caldwell's lay ministry students.

Two years ago a group of top Catholic leaders in business, philanthropy, education and other fields formed the National Leadership Roundtable of Church Management to develop programs to help pastors, bishops and others in church leadership improve their skills in administration, finances and personnel.

In 2004 the Institute in Pastoral Ministries of St. Mary's University in Winona, Minn., instituted a master's degree in pastoral administration and a professional certification program in pastoral administration, making church administration a possible field of specialty for its pastoral ministry students.

Last year the University of Notre Dame in Indiana revamped its master's degree in nonprofit administration to meet growing needs in the field, and earlier this year Boston College announced a new program similar to Caldwell's, a master's in pastoral ministry with concentration in church management.

This summer at least two other Catholic institutions held special sessions on church management. Villanova University in Pennsylvania held a five-day institute that drew people from across the country who were already in church administration but were seeking to improve their skills. A series of workshops set up by St. Mary's Seminary and University in Baltimore was for seminarians who wanted to learn what church administration entails before they get ordained.

"Catholic colleges are picking up the ball and trying to meet the church's needs," Sister Barbara said.

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