Tending the Talents Helps Parish Leaders to Better Serve

The Diocese of Orlando is seeking to strengthen parishes by strengthening leaders who have the mission of drawing people to Jesus Christ.

Twenty nine lay leaders participated in this new effort, called Tending the Talents, an 18 month program that enhances leadership abilities with Christ as the model.

“A lot of good things are happening, and we need to celebrate the good things that are happening,” said Bishop Noonan during the Tending the Talents graduation ceremony at San Pedro on April 6. “I ask all of you to share this Good News.”

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The Diocese of Orlando is seeking to strengthen parishes by strengthening leaders who have the mission of drawing people to Jesus Christ.

Twenty nine lay leaders participated in this new effort, called Tending the Talents, an 18 month program that enhances leadership abilities with Christ as the model.

“A lot of good things are happening, and we need to celebrate the good things that are happening,” said Bishop Noonan during the Tending the Talents graduation ceremony at San Pedro on April 6. “I ask all of you to share this Good News.”

Orlando is one of eight dioceses nationwide to have a Tending the Talents program and our first graduating class included representatives from 14 different parishes across the diocese.

The curriculum focuses on five areas of leadership development: self, one-to-one, team, organizational, and collaborative relationships outside of parish life. Over the course of 18 months the participants gathered at San Pedro Center for six separate learning modules ranging from one to three day sessions. Each module was taught by instructors from the Catholic Leadership Institute (CLI) in Wayne, Pennsylvania.

“A call to discipleship is a call to leadership, and in that call to leadership we have the greatest model of all, which is Jesus Christ,” said Karen Walters, Director of Learning and Curriculum at CLI. “Everything in our program leads back to this model of alignment—Jesus has a vision for His Church.”

Heidi Peckham, Secretary for Pastoral Ministries, participated in a national pilot program for Tending the Talents at CLI’s Pennsylvania headquarters and she graduated last fall. “There are many leadership models out there, but I think that CLI has really captured our theology, and implemented it in a way to not only use our talents to minister to the people of God, but to give glory to our God,” said Peckham.

Linda Clark, Business Administrator of St. Paul Catholic Church in Leesburg, was part of this month’s graduation and has already implemented what she has learned. “We do our staff meetings entirely differently now, which are more effective and efficient both in time and in goal setting,” said Clark.

Clark was invited to participate in Tending the Talents by her pastor, Father John Giel. Father Giel graduated two years ago from CLI’s Good Leaders, Good Shepherds, which is a program especially designed for clergy. “CLI brings in the Scriptures and different forms of theology in making their points,” said Father Giel. “A lot of their lessons come from aspects of our faith.”

Tending the Talents is the second part of Good Leaders, Good Shepherds. Pastors who graduate then invite lay leadership to Tending the Talents.

“I think Good Leaders, Good Shepherds and Tending the Talents are rooted in that deeper message of Christian Stewardship,” said Father Charlie Mitchell, another Good Leaders, Good Shepherds graduate and pastor of St. Mary Magdalen in Maitland.

Recent Tending the Talents graduate Maureen Orkwis, parish secretary and coordinator of youth ministry at St. John the Baptist in Dunnellon, noted that Jesus gives Catholics an example of leadership that can be followed today, as evidenced by the example of St. Peter. “Even though St. Peter had a lot of weaknesses, Jesus looked at that and still could see his potential,” said Orkwis. “This class definitely showed us how to do that in others and ourselves.” 

Congratulations to the 2011 Tending the Talents Graduates: 

  • Mary LouFess, Director of Faith Formation, All Souls Catholic Church
  • Jon Trout, Director of Operations, All Souls Catholic Church
  • Elsa Acevedo, Office Manager, Holy Cross Catholic Church
  • Tina Shannon, Youth Ministry, Holy Cross Catholic Church
  • Sharon Taylor, RCIA Director, Holy Cross Catholic Church
  • Nora Carbone, Religious Education Coordinator, Holy Family Catholic Church
  • Wendy Groover, Parish Life Coordinator, Holy Family Catholic Church
  • Julie Kreinheder, Director of Operations, Holy Family Catholic Church
  • Joe Buranonski, Director of Operations, Basilica of Mary, Queen of the Universe Shrine
  • Sharon Mayer, Director of Development, Basilica of Mary, Queen of the Universe Shrine
  • Nancy Sturm, Director of Faith Formation, Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church
  • Lupe Jimenez, Business Manager, St. Ann, Haines City 
  • Lena Castaldo, Office Manager, St. Ann Catholic Church
  • Colleen Lathan, Director of RCIA, St. Ann Catholic Church
  • Cathy Mojock, Pastoral Assistant, St. Ann Catholic Church
  • Ernesto Nunez, Business Manager, St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church
  • Gloria Perez, Parish Secretary, St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church
  • Patricia Nunes, Business Manager, Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church
  • Lilly Cruz, Bookkeeper, St. John the Baptist Catholic Church
  • Maureen Orkwis, Secretary/Youth Administer, St. John the Baptist Catholic Church
  • Mary Ann Gilbert, Director Social Justice, St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church
  • Kevin Hagan, Director of Technology and Stewardship, St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church
  • Lori Reinneck, Director of Family Ministries, St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church
  • Mark Ayers, Steward for Liturgical & Music Ministries, St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church
  • Vince Edman, Facilities Director, St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church
  • Melissa Findley, Steward for Time, Talent & Evangelization, St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church
  • Marshall Gibbs, Steward for Faith Formation, St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church
  • Linda Clark, Business Administrator, St. Paul Catholic Church
  • Jeffrey Jones, Chair, Pastor Advisory Board, St. Andrew Catholic Church