Parish business managers: Trained to be good stewards
Len Goswitz had been working as a project manager when the economic downturn led to layoffs at his company. Even tougher than losing his job was the challenge of finding a new one.
“It was very difficult to find work,” says Goswitz, a parishioner at Yorba Linda’s Santa Clara de Asis Church. So difficult, in fact, that he brainstormed new lines of endeavor, and resolved on looking into openings for a parish business manager. There was only one problem with that, he says dryly: “I didn’t have a lot of formal training.”
Fortunately, there was a solution to that problem: Loyola Marymount University’s parish business administration certificate program, a collaborative effort of LMU and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
Goswitz began the two-semester program in January 2011, and had completed it before the end of the year. On Feb. 26, he and his dozen fellow graduates were recognized by Archbishop Jose Gomez at the 10 a.m. Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.
“Most of those completing the program were either already working in parish business administration or have obtained positions at parishes after completing the program,” says instructor Greg Chambers, who leads the sessions with Pat Joyce. Typically about a third of the students are parish business managers, a third hope to become parish business managers, and a third are taking the class to bolster their skills as they serve in other capacities.
Goswitz landed his spot as business manager at Glendale’s Incarnation Church four months ago. Vickie Petteruto, on the other hand, had been working as the business manager at St. Dorothy in Glendora for more than half a year (most of the time as the interim business manager) when she enrolled in the class. Prior to that, she’d been a youth minister for 18 years.
As a longtime diocesan employee, she says with a laugh, her fellow students expected that she would “have all the answers.” The reality, however, was quite different. “I had no idea there was so much I did not know,” she says.
Offered through the LMU Center for Religion and Spirituality in conjunction with the archdiocese’s Office of Parish Life, the program covers topics as diverse as consensus building, budget preparation and management, facilities management and plant maintenance, fundraising and development, human resources, and canon law. It also helps students make connections with archdiocesan staff and within the business manager community. (Joyce, business manager at Holy Angels in Arcadia, also runs a monthly archdiocesan business managers networking group.)
Held two Saturdays each month over the course of two consecutive semesters, the classes run primarily on lecture and class discussion, but Chambers and Joyce are not the only ones teaching; several heads of archdiocesan departments participate as guest lecturers. That’s a big change since Joyce graduated from the program in 2003, he says — and, according to students, one of the biggest perks.
“It provided me with a lot of resources, a lot of contacts of people within the diocese,” says Zoila Ceniseroz, business manager at Oxnard’s Santa Clara Church. “It enables you ... just to have confidence in your position.”
At a time when job-hunting continues to be challenging for many, parish business management can provide a new career opportunity, as it did for Goswitz — and the certificate program provides a strong foundation, even for those who are new to the field.
“Like it or not, our parishes are small businesses — with a very specific mission,” says Kathy Enright, director of the archdiocese’s Office of Parish Life.
“We’re really trying to recognize it’s a complex environment. Parish business managers need to be properly trained to be good stewards.”
The 2011 graduates of the Parish Business Administration Certificate Program (with their home parishes) are: Nelia Cacic, St. Catherine of Siena, Reseda; Doug Caldwell, Our Lady of the Assumption, Ventura; Michael Caraway, St. James, Redondo Beach; Zoila Ceniseroz, Santa Clara, Oxnard; Len Goswitz, Santa Clara de Asis Church, Yorba Linda; Chris Griego, St. Hilary, Pico Rivera; Theresa Jeensalute, St. Catherine of Siena, Reseda; Teri Meza Rosenau, St. Ignatius of Loyola, Los Angeles (Highland Park); Steven Nadolny, St. Joseph, Hawthorne; Vicky Petteruto, St. Dorothy, Glendora; Theresa Salas, St. Hilary, Pico Rivera; Mike Stefanko, St. Dorothy, Glendora; Maria Zavala, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Chino.
The next session of the Parish Business Administration Certificate program is scheduled to begin in the fall. For more information or to enroll, contact LMU Extension, (310) 338-1971, or visit http://www.lmu.edu/academics/extension/crs/certificates/pba.htm.
Prayer of the MonthPapal intentions for November: That priests who experience difficulties may find comfort in their suffering, support in their doubts, and confirmation in their fidelity. That as fruit of the continental mission, Latin American Churches may send missionaries to other Churches.
Papal intentions for December: That children who are victims of abandonment or violence may find the love and protection they need. That Christians, enlightened by the Word incarnate, may prepare humanity for the Savior's coming.