Here’s an excerpt from our interview with Harvey Catholic Church, whose leader Father Jess Navarra and his team, build their health and vitality through initiatives such as this.

Read the conversation below.

NCLS: Father Jess can I ask you, in terms of your collaborative leadership approach, where did you learn that? Was it part of your theological training?

JN: Yes, part of that and I think my attitude in life, too. As well, when I was in the cathedral for 12 years, Bishop Gerard Holohan appointed me as the new administrator when he became a bishop. And part of that, he asked me to complete a course at the Notre Dame University, that involved organisational development and change management.  It was leading towards the Master of Business Administration. 

That’s where I learned the skills in terms of organisational development, change management and strategic management. 

I really enjoyed that course and for me personally, it’s really working for me in terms of my approaches and my style of leadership in the parish.  And I did share this story to our young priests because the bishop wanted me to share some of these learnings I had.  And the young priests did a course as well, so really, it was time for me to put that into practice.

I’m very grateful and thankful that I have a chance to take some of those courses and then I had some training in terms of leadership management training. 

NCLS: Thank you.

JN: It’s very biblical, very biblical.  As I said, when I came to that course, I thought that was foreign for me, being a priest, but when I took those courses, that’s where I really fully appreciated the gospel balance.  Because their approaches are very biblical.

NCLS: And it sounds like it reflects the ministry of all believers, of bringing all the strengths of the individual and the strength of the parish together, that you’ve described at your church.

JN: And I think one of the key points also, is the attitude of the leader.  I always project a joyful life; I am happy in the ministry and I think that also will generate some positive vibes amongst the people. 

They could see their priest, their leader happy and eventually that becomes a point of inspiration and strength at the same time.  I celebrated my silver jubilee in this parish, in last April.

And in a sense, I’ve been in the diocese for the last 25 years, so I’m just very grateful for those people across the time of the 25 years of the priestly life, it’s a beautiful life and that’s really reflecting in my style of leadership.

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