Bringing the Amazing Parish movement to our diocese
Photo (L-R) Brett Eckert, Beth Strain, Ryan Hardy, and Ana Robbins join Fr Brian Christensen as part of the Cathedral Parish Leadership Team at the Amazing Parish Summit in Denver, Colorado, June 6-8.
Five people from the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Rapid City, attended the Amazing Parish Summit, that was held in Denver, June 6-8. It was founded by two laymen who felt called by the Holy Spirit to share their combined business acumen, John Martin and Pat Lencioni. They use their experience from the corporate world to provide teaching and a system of support to Catholic pastors and their teams, which they are then able to bring into their parishes.
There is a strong correlation between how corporations and parishes are run including how to manage people, inspire them, lead them, and implement new ideas. Ana Robbins first attended the program in 2014, so she could see how it has been refined. One of the most noticeable changes was the addition of a section on healing and wounds. “Throughout the conference there was a strong emphasis on the importance of vulnerability and trust, and the power it gives to allow one to lead from a place of authenticity and identity as a beloved child of the Father. There were testimonies given by Archbishop Sample and a couple Carmelite sisters that were true witnesses to what happens when we let the Lord into those places in our lives, and the tremendous fruits that come from that in our relationships with one another,” she said.
The summit the cathedral team attended was led by Archbishop Alexander Sample of Portland, Ore.; and from Greenwood Village, Colo., Lencioni, and Chris Stefanick of Real Life Catholic.
At the summit they spoke about the working genius model developed by Lencioni and the Table Group (the corporate arm of his business). Robbins said, “This model helps people to identify their personal areas of working genius, the areas where they can find the greatest joy and energy. This was so profound to us — that as a team we can all come together with our strengths and understand one another’s weaknesses as well, leading to a greater effectiveness but also more enthusiasm and satisfaction in our contributions.”
She added, “When priests take this back to their parishes, the ones who implement it are being set completely on fire. They leave the summit with a lot of hope and tools. True leadership will foster true humility and a servant mentality. For me, I left there with a deep awareness of our priests’ love for their parishes. Our priests truly care about our church and their people, and deeply desire to lead people to the heart of Christ.”
Fr. Brian Christensen, cathedral pastor, started watching Amazing Parish webinars during the pandemic in 2020-21. “Then, I began meeting with a coach from Amazing Parish every two weeks by Zoom,” he said. “The coach helped me to develop and hone my leadership within the parish. The Amazing Parish vision for pastors follows the model of Jesus. While Jesus spoke to the crowds and went about preaching and healing, he spent most of his time with a small group of followers. Jesus had an inner group of ‘advisors,’ Peter, James and John, with whom he dedicated special time for prayer and instruction.”
Before attending the summit, a priest is asked to spend time in prayer, quietly discerning a small group of people he can turn to for advice. Groups generally range from 3-5 people. The team at Amazing Parish is committed to assisting pastors and their parishes in realizing their call in Christ and seeking the best ways to lead parishes to the fullness of the Gospel vision, according to Father Christensen.
The cathedral leadership team meets biweekly. “We are seeking to build a culture of invitation, hospitality, empowerment, listening, and prayer for ourselves. Guided by the Holy Spirit, we are attempting to imitate the early church,” he said.