The month of November awakens many memories of people in our lives whose love had a profound impact upon us. The commemoration of the faithful departed in prayer on All Souls Day expresses our faith and hope that family and friends who have died before us will be born into eternal life.
Like many of us whose parents have passed away, my own thoughts are filled with memories of my mother and father. In the case of my father, he had a great interest in athletics as a youth and I have memories of him volunteering as a coach. At the time of his funeral, I came to learn that his nickname among his co-workers was in fact “Coach.” They explained that he received this name because of an ability to see in others their gifts and talents which he encouraged them to develop by working as a team. It is this memory of his impact on others that I carry with me to this day.
When you think of a coach, it is someone who has an ability to assess the internal strengths of others and is committed to being a mentor. They intuitively know that individual skills can be strengthened when they plan strategically, by having a common purpose and vision like being on a team. Being a team member allows the individuals to rely on others and trust that in sharing their skills, the entire team will benefit.
Secondly, a coach is a person who knows that no matter what level of experience and skills we have, there is a need for continual improvement. This pursuit of improvement often means that individuals know they are supported when they take risks. Some initiatives work out well and others would benefit from a “do-over,” as they say today. My father adopted this aspect of coaching with great diligence and care. He used to say “practice is necessary if you are going to be in the game.” The present — good as it is — is always somehow linked to the future. In other words, the work and practice we engage in today must always be discerned in light of a bigger plan and vision for the future. He spent many hours encouraging practice and figuring out ways to promote the strengths of players while empowering them to stretch just a bit farther in the development of their talents.
And thirdly, a coach is realistic in discerning the strengths of the opposing team and plans accordingly. Such insights help a coach to make decisions about the ways to play a team utilizing their strengths and planning strategies to overcome anticipated and unexpected challenges.
I offer these reflections on coaching because they serve as an analogy for the role of leadership which I am being called to exercise in the Diocese through the strategic planning and review the Pastoral Centre while encouraging our parishes to take risks, to refine activities of service and ministry in order to promote the New Evangelization.
As I stated at the Bishop’s Dinner in October, it has been a year of “firsts” for me in this diocese. A significantly important part of those initial experiences has been to meet people, to appreciate the gifts of each person and to bring people together to embrace the responsibility for its ongoing mission. When I look forward to undertaking this work through the office of bishop in the coming years, I appreciate the lessons of leadership I have learned from my father in being a coach.
At the Pastoral Centre, a Planning Team has been formed to engage in a collaborative process of strategic planning and to prepare for an organizational review. They held their first meeting in mid-October and have committed to the regular sharing of information with the rest of the Pastoral Centre staff. The planning process comes from the Haines Centre for Strategic Management with three foundational premises: planning and change are the primary responsibility of discerning and faithful leadership; the faith community is strongest when everyone is engaged together; and, the Church undertakes the mission entrusted to her effectively and when she engages in prayerful reflection and planning.
Communication has also emerged as an important and vital part of the processes of planning and review. New technologies and modes of communication are emerging. The editorial board for The Carillon along with its dedicated editors, Monique and Myron Achtman, are undertaking a similar review to optimize their working together with other forms and methods of communication in the Diocese, our parishes and community partners. The Editorial Board is working with the decision that The Carillon will be published four times annually beginning in 2018. A survey has been developed which will allow the input from readers and pastoral staff about the content, format and focus of the quarterly issues. This survey is in this issue of The Carillon and I invite your feedback. In the future, a broader comprehensive review of all communications in the Diocese will support the assessment of The Carillon’s distinct place within the various modes of diocesan communication: i.e. website, social communication, and news to support the New Evangelization.
This is a creative time in the Diocese, a time of innovation, of asking questions and proposing new possibilities. As we move through the month of November towards the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe and the beginning of the Season of Advent, let us be filled with hope, promise and anticipation trusting the guidance of the Holy Spirit to lead us through this process of renewal and transformation.
I echo St. Paul’s Prayer in his Letter to the Ephesians as I affirm my support for the planning process, my confidence in the great hope to which we are called and I assure you of my prayers for each of you.
“I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power.”
☩ Most Reverend William T. McGrattan, D.D.
Bishop of Calgary