The Program of Church Management
(L to R) Fr. Lawrence Sakubita Like (Zambia) and Deacon Malusi Ncanaris (South Africa) are students in the new Program of Church Management (PCM)
The Markets, Culture, and Ethics Research Centre (MCE) of the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross is equipping Church leaders with management skills to carry out the Church mission. MCE is offering a year-long program of study in Church management to provide leaders with the secular skills needed to implement Catholic social teaching.
Since February 5th, a class of nearly 40 students comprised of priests, laity, and consecrated religious members have been attending courses in a variety of disciplines including economics and finance to gain skills directly applicable to their leadership roles in the Church.
Among the participants enrolled, is Deacon Malusi Ncanana from the South African diocese of Eshowe. After one more year of study, Ncanana will have earned a license in Canon Law, and will serve his diocese with this expertise alongside his pastoral work.
Preparing himself for ministry further yet, Ncanana entered the Program of Church Management aware of the material aspect of ecclesial work. Ncanana’s bishop asked him to participate in the course, though Ncanana said he too sees the utility of such formation.
“When one is a priest, one is not only called to be a pastor, but a good pastor, and that entails managing well the goods of the Church including things like money and assets the way a father or mother of a family does. Unfortunately, in seminary most of the times we are not taught these things.”
The program director, Msgr. Martin Schlag, began formulating the program after meeting with Cardinal Pell, who expressed the Holy See’s desire for, and expectation that Santa Croce could form Church leaders to live out the Church’s social teaching as it applies to managing temporal goods.
“After much work on the program and consulting with hundreds of people from around the world, Pope Francis personally encouraged us [to bring the program to fruition],” Vice Director, Fr. Robert Gahl explained.
Offering a high level of academic rigor, the various courses of the Program of Church Management are taught by expert professors collaborating from various institutions. The favorite course of Ncanana so far, has been Ecclesiology.
“You might be surprised and think, ‘this is a Church management program, not theology,’ but in order to understand well this management course, we have to understand first what the Church really is. Otherwise, we risk taking the Church as an NGO or business, and further risk seeing ourselves as future business men and women,” Ncanana said.
Deacon Ncanana is not alone in his enthusiasm for the Church Management program. Fr. Jorge Avíles of the Archdiocese of Guayaquil, Ecuador described practical needs for the skills taught by the course in his diocese as well.
Avíles notes that the large size of his diocese gives its curia many assets to manage. Among those assets are 30 medical centers, 20 schools, and foundations of various social services. “These institutions are within the Church and the bishop is the head of them, so they need well formed administrators,” Avíles said.
Services like these within the Church correspond directly to the social teaching formation that the founders of the Program for Church Management aim to provide, and that the Holy See desires for Church members to have.
“When priests (and bishops) exercise their authority with profession- al excellence and prophetic clairvoyance the entire Church is made more effective in her task of evangelization, which also includes promoting solidarity and aiding the poor. Serving the poor is not an addendum. It is at the very core of the Church’s mission,” Gahl explained.
“We hope that our alumni will be beacons of excellence around the world in their work serving the Church by bringing professional tools to their responsibilities… We hope that priests who complete our program will have managerial know-how to delegate more effectively, especially to lay professionals, and therefore to be more free for their sacramental ministry.”