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Catholic seminaries and schools now train for business and leadership skills as well as pastoral and spiritual duties.

The world has changed a lot since the Catholic Church was established, nearly two thousand years ago. That has naturally meant that the skills required of priests have also changed, but few people have considered the multiplicity of needs of the modern parish within seminary training. That, however, is starting to change.

More and more Catholic seminaries are starting to offer programs to develop management and leadership skills, as well as the more typical theology courses. This is natural: although priests a century ago would primarily depend on the nuns and monks, as well as a cleaner to care for the practical needs of his parish, there are now a huge range of employees, all of which require management, payroll control, as well as the myriad of volunteers. Laws protecting children and requiring health and safety rules are also a normal part of a priest’s job now, and that is why they are receiving this extra training.

Part of the motivator to teach skills like this is to improve the reputation of the Catholic Church. At a course held at Philadelphia’s Villanova University, Charles Zech, the director of the Center for Church Management and Business Ethics at the Villanova School of Business said “The younger people, especially, if they see incompetence, they’re going to walk.”

Benedictine monks in particular put a lot of emphasis on leadership skills, and what it means to be a good leader. Too often, they argue, priests are released into the mission field without any real idea how their leadership actions could directly affect those under them. Benedictine College is now offering what it calls “The Gregorian Fellows Leadership Programme,” which brings speakers and students together to discuss common management problems within the Church.

Similarly, the Catholic Education Foundation has created a seminar based around St. Thomas Aquinas, widely regarded as one of the greatest Church administrators that has ever lived. The seminar includes examining the works of St. Thomas Aquinas, and seeing how those principles can apply to modern life.

These educational changes should make a huge difference in the communities where these priests will go to serve.

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