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Management support for Catholic priests

Shepherd's Staff pairs Catholic pastors with seasoned professionals to discreetly but powerfully conquer the administrative challenges that come with leading a parish.

Give us some quick contact info, and a Shepherd's Staff representative will reach out to connect you with one of our advisors.

Name

"I stress out about HR issues. My advisor's fatherly help and good advice have allowed me to successfully navigate these challenges. He really cares! I'd encourage my brother priests to strongly consider Shepherd's Staff; you cannot do it yourself."

Pastor

Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis

From 'I didn't sign up for this' to 'I've got this'

From strategy to effective team building, financial to legal, the administrative hurdles of parish leadership can be daunting. A Shepherd's Staff advisor can help priests work through them -- effectively, confidentially and at no cost to you.

smiling catholic priest
priest handshake

How it works

  1. You contact IOCF
  2. A member of our staff will reach out to learn more about you and your parish
  3. We'll assign you an advisor based on your needs
  4. Meet with your advisor to define goals and work toward success
  5. More effective ministry, fewer headaches

What specific services do you offer?

We offer services to help pastors with their parish stewardship responsibilities, such as in the areas of human resources, leadership skills enhancement, financial management, strategic planning, legal and infrastructure.

Is there a fee for your services?

Our services are free of charge to pastors.

Is the engagement confidential?

We maintain strict confidentiality and sign agreements to that affect.

Who are the advisors?

Shepherd’s Staff is a team of seasoned professionals with real world business and church administration experience. Each volunteer has 20 or more years of experience in their area of expertise. We have former management in finance, human resources, parish staff, sales, marketing and general management and deacons.

The volunteers have been hand-selected to ensure they are holy Catholics, understanding, humble, confidential, discreet, approachable, insightful, professional and competent so they can be a trusted resource working in collaboration with the priest.

What training have the advisors received?

All volunteers have been through training, including an understanding of the life of a priest, The Institute for Ongoing Clergy Formation Workshop and the Pastor Leadership Model, Catholic Leadership 360° and The Catholic Leadership Institute.

What does an advisor do?

The advisor is a consultant to the priest. The advisor is not “staff” and should not be considered for daily or ongoing administrative support. Advisors typically initially focus on a specific objective. That said, we’ve seen many instances in which the priest and advisor form an ongoing relationship where the priest episodically calls to gain advice, bounce an idea off the advisor or work on enhancing their leadership skills. In all situations, the advisor is in a supportive role to the priest.

How is an advisor assigned?

The priest can contact Deacon Dan Gannon, director of The Saint Paul Seminary Institute for Ongoing Clergy Formation, or fill out the above request form. The priest will receive a phone call from the Shepherd’s Staff coordinator to review the request. Once a priest has articulated the general area(s) they need help with, two qualified advisors will meet with the priest to better understand the request through targeted questions and careful listening. With a clear definition of the objective, we assign a qualified advisor.

How did Shepherd’s Staff get started? Where does Shepherd’s Staff fit within the Archdiocese?

Fr. Joseph Johnson, pastor at Holy Family Catholic Church in St. Louis Park, identified a need to provide confidential assistance to parish priests to help them in the practical administration of the parish. Johnson gathered an initial group in 2018 to discuss how this could best be done, and Shepherd’s Staff was born. In 2021, Shepherd’s Staff came under The Saint Paul Seminary Institute for Ongoing Priestly Formation to provide a seamless experience to our priests and advisors.

Why would I want to use Shepherd’s Staff?

A priest often comes across challenges where assistance from an outside advisor with years of experience can be beneficial to best address an issue in a timely and effective manner. Our clients have commented on how helpful their advisor has been and how the engagement resolved the issue, helped them gain new skills and insights and reduced stress.

What are the expectations of the priest?

We ask the priest to be open and honest, take the engagement seriously by making the necessary time available, and to work with the advisor every couple of weeks at a minimum until the objective is achieved.

How long is a typical engagement?

Some engagements can be addressed in a short period of time (one month) while others require a longer engagement to really make a difference (more than three months). Often the priest and advisor form an ongoing relationship where the priest calls to gain advice, bounce an idea off the advisor or work on enhancing his leadership skills.

Can my advisor work with my staff?

We start out the engagement working with the priest. If it becomes evident that a conversation or meeting with staff would be helpful, that can be done, but only when specifically approved by the priest. At all times, the advisor is in a supportive role to the priest.

What makes an engagement successful?

Clear identification of the objective and the priest’s willingness to be open to suggestions and make the time and effort to work with the advisor. Trust and a healthy working relationship between the priest and advisor are critical.

Download the overview we show every priest when introducing them to Shepherd's staff.

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