Presenter shares wisdom from ministry experience

The daily challenges of ministry in the church were brought to life with humorous anecdotes and sobering facts by the keynote speaker Fr. Charles Lachowitzer at the annual Pastoral Ministry Days, April 8-9 at Terra Sancta Retreat Center, Rapid City. He is the Vicar General for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“One Spirit — Priests and Laity Working Together to Form the Mystical Body of Christ” was the theme for the conference created by Director of Faith Formation Susan Safford and the PMD Committee. It included keynote addresses, adoration, the Divine Office, discussion time, and Mass. Various ministries and businesses were available to participants during breaks in the vendor’s area.

Father Lachowitzer said the archdiocese is just emerging from bankruptcy proceedings to settle sexual abuse lawsuits. He said the priest abusers have humiliated the church in a tsunami of scandal. While the archdiocese begins to recover, he commented, he envied the Diocese of Rapid City moving forward with a pastoral plan, Through Him, With Him, and In Him.

According to Father Lachowitzer, pastors want to be involved in more than by-lays, bulletins, buildings and boilers. In his presentation, the “Seven ‘C’s” he gave the following pointers:

  • Conversation — computers are windows to the world, but he recommended any email message longer than one paragraph should be delivered face-to-face. “It is in conversation we hear the hearts and minds of the people,” he said.
  • Conflict — resolution requires dialogue and acceptance. More often than not miscommunication is the source of conflict.
  • Communication — we are drowning in information, but how do we get people’s attention? He said talk to them, and added “imagine the problems if a crew on a ship didn’t talk to each other.”
  • Consultation — make certain the pastor and staff are on the same page. Boards and councils are to assist and bring resources to the administration.
  • Control — one person does not need to do everything. Invite more people to participate, Jesus called forth the 12 and scattered the seeds of truth. Father Lachowitzer said there still needs to be a chain of command to garner the gifts of baptized.
  • Collaboration — bigger than nicely working together, the mission of the church transcends local parishes calling all to become part of the global church. Sharing resources is part of collaboration; competition is for sports teams.
  • Compassion — is at the heart of all the church leaders and parish bodies. It is stirred by listening to those who no one listens to. “To imitate the heart of Christ we recognize we are all sinners and we all need the same graces,” he said.

Photo and article appeared in the April 2019 West River Catholic. Photo and text by Laurie Hallstrom.