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‘Good Leaders, Good Shepherds’  

Two-year process for priests begins

(Click here to see photos from their first day.)

By David Myers
Editor

GREAT BEND -- “Do you ever feel too busy to get everything done?”
    This question, posed by presenter Barbara Eckert, drew murmurs of unequivocal agreement by the nearly 40 priests gathered for the “Good Leaders, Good Shepherds” program.

    On March 24, 18 priests from the Diocese of Dodge City gathered with 19 priests from the Diocese of Salina and one each from the Wichita and Oklahoma City dioceses, for the first of 16 gatherings over the next two years (See the schedule on Page 6).
    While many are one-day sessions, at least six will include, as this one did, three or four- day sessions at the Heartland Center in Great Bend or in Hays.
    The event was co-presented by Father Scott Boeckman of Oklahoma.
    While most people could answer “yes” to Eckert’s question, for priests -- who are sometimes asked to pastor two or three parishes at a time -- the question raises serious issues. How can priests better answer the needs of their flock when they are spread so thin?
    Part of the answer lies in how priests invite and utilize members of the flock itself to serve the local Church.
    This question is one of many that will receive significant focus throughout the “Good Leaders Good Shepherds” program.
“I have never been comfortable with the role of leader. As a priest, I have always considered myself more of a sheep dog than a shepherd,” said Father Ted Stoecklein. “Good Leaders, Good Shepherds has given me hope that I really can grow in confidence with both roles.
“One of the best parts of the Good Leaders, Good Shepherds program,” he added, “is that we are working with many priests from the Salina Diocese. Since I was originally from that diocese, it was a great opportunity to renew some friendships.”
Following the conclusion of the first sessions, Father John Strasser said that he “felt affirmed in learning that a person can be an effective leader whatever one’s style of leadership. Good Leaders, Good Shepherds does not attempt to change my style and gifts.  Instead, I was challenged to recognize and improve them.  Throughout the week St. Paul’s words to the Corinthians kept coming to mind: There are different gifts but the same spirit.  (I Cor 12:4)
“I was hoping that our time and energy spent on this new experience of Good Leaders, Good Shepherds was going to be worth it,” commented Father Reggie Urban. “After taking part in the ‘1st Module’ entitled ‘Self Preparation for Leadership’, I know that it will be worth it! Having been a priest for almost 32 years, I am sure that this experience will help me to be a better leader and shepherd. The following phrase shared by the facilitators sums up the first module: ‘You are more than you have become.’ Consequently, it is with great excitement that I look forward to this two-year process.”
Father Wesley Schawe said the he was “excited about the potential that Good Leaders, Good Shepherds has for me and for our diocese. But I think the real work has just begun. Will we, as priests, allow the information and understanding we gained to permeate the different levels of our ministry? The answer to that question is the difference between whether GLGS is a worthwhile investment or just another workshop that comes and goes. This first week has helped me to believe that it’s worth the investment.
 “I learned a lot about myself: who I am, how I relate to others, and why.”

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