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: How would you describe the way leadership happens in the parish?

JN: Leadership in the parish is more on collaborative and I see myself as a leader-manager who engage in terms of encouraging and calling for the alignment of all the strength of the parish including the individuals.  Of course, we are struggling in terms of some people who have some negative approach in the parish, but I think if we dwell on the strength of the parish and trying to consider those strengths, eventually the negativity will be eradicated.  I think I believe in that. 

So that’s one thing that I engage, collaborative in our leadership, consultative, animating, I consider myself as an animator, inspiring and a visionary.  I always call the people, in a simple process base.  At the beginning, when we had the parish council and with the finance, I just asked a simple question saying, where are we now as a parish?  Where would you like to go?  What would be our dream for this parish?  And then, how can we achieve those dreams?  So those three simple questions really, guiding questions that I keep asking them.  I think that strategy for me is the way I look at it, it’s really working and I’m very grateful that many of our parishioners are actually responding to the vision of the parish.

NCLS: You seem to be drawing people together in a way that they feel part of who your church is, contributing, sharing and owning the journey together, how do you do it?

JN: I think one thing, the key word there, is trusting.  You trust people that they can do these things.  Just this year, we were able to create a team ministry in the sacristy.  There are three people, in the past there was only one.  Now with the three people there working the sacristy, so I keep guiding them to work together and the key word is communicate.  If one cannot attend to the duty, ask the other one to take over, and that kind of working is communication should be really open and transparent and I said the trusting. 

Some of them might feel guilty, because they didn’t do the job properly, but I keep encouraging the people, I said, I kept entrusting him or entrusting her that she can do it.  I think it’s trusting these people that, reminding them that you have a gift and talents, that God gave you so you can make use of that. 

I keep reminding the parish, specifically the key leaders of the parish that, you are here because you have a mission, you have been called, please remove that idea that you are here because you want to help the priest.  No, you’re not here to help me, you are here because you have a mission, you have a calling and you have been called to do this in a particular task and entrusted to you by our parish.  That would be your backbone.  I think it’s more on really empowering them at the same time that they’re realising that they can do something and with their talents and gifts.

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