MOOSE JAW — Priests need to work smarter, not just harder, in the face of declining numbers. That was the message Rev. Ronald Knott of the Archdiocese of Louisville, Ky. (home of KFC, Bourbon and Muhammad Ali, he quickly added) brought as guest presenter at the annual Clergy Assembly held Oct. 5 - 8 at the Heritage Inn here. This year’s theme was The Powerful Spiritual Leadership of a Unified Presbyterate.He spoke to priests several times over the four days, emphasizing teamwork. “It was really about us working together with the bishop as a team for the purpose of delivering high-quality, coherent ministry to the people,” said Knott in an interview with the PM. “Think we instead of me and look at the diocese as a whole through the eyes of the bishop, otherwise we tend to look at just our little kingdom, our little world without looking at the big picture.” Instead of being insular, priests should make the effort to get to know each other, especially the international priests; to send letters and emails of appreciation and celebrate the successes of one another.
There was no discussion on how to measure success and he stayed on the theme of leadership and teamwork. “If you turn around and see no one is following, you’ve got two options; you can blame the sheep or you can step back and say, ‘There’s something about my leadership style that I need to look at,’” said Knott. He told the assembly priests have to get a lot better at preaching. Instead of waiting to the last minute, spend the week preparing the homily for the weekend. There is a sense, he said, that as lay leadership develops the need for priests drop but quoting Pope John Paul II, Knott said, “The more lay ministry develops the more we need quality leadership from our priests.”
Vicar-general Rev. Lorne Crozon said he was pleased at this year’s attendance as one of the larger and best assemblies. “We’re in this together and we’re all working toward a common goal.” Crozon said Knott brought out very clearly that as priests they all share in the ministry of the archbishop. “So we have to get a sense of the archbishop’s mind, we have to know that it’s not just us that’s doing this but together as a unified ministry. It’s taking away from that sense of congregationalism that sometimes in some of our parishes suffer from and toward a wider view of church and working together with the church in a unified body.”
Crozon said it’s not operating our parishes just on our own as happens in some denominations “we’re doing it as a whole archdiocese or a whole presbyterate.”