Catholic pastors, or priests on track to become pastors, now have access to an online master’s degree program in Parish Administration and Management, offered through The Catholic University of America’s Busch School of Business. Devised by St. John Paul II Swiss Guard, the degree will give shepherds the business education they need to run a modern parish.
The new “Master of Science in Ecclesial Administration and Management” aims to give current or future pastors the tools they need to wisely shepherd their parishes’ material goods and personnel, so they can effectively carry out their mission to proclaim the Gospel. The yearlong program begins with one week at CUA’s campus, in order to introduce the priests to fellow students and their professors, who hail from the university’s business school as well as the theology, canon law, and architecture schools.
The rest of the 30-credit online curriculum covers such topics as parish fundraising campaigns, economic transparency, how to organize and manage employees, effective communications and crisis management, and more. William Bowman, dean of the Busch School, explained that CUA intends the new master’s program to provide pastors with the proven best practices “consistent with Catholic social doctrine” that guide day-to-day administration of successful secular businesses.
Bowman, an experienced CEO himself, said the program reflects CUA’s mission to be at the service of the Church. He said Bishop James Checchio, the former rector at the North American College and current shepherd of the Diocese of Metuchen, New Jersey, told CUA that seminarians’ formation did not cover business issues adequately. Bishop Checchio, one of only a handful of U.S. bishops with a master’s degree in business administration (from LaSalle University in Philadelphia), saw the need to supplement the administrative education of young priests, since canon law makes pastors answerable for their oversight of parish financial operations. Bowman said the business school understands the need to equip pastors with a financial education. Many pastors work with million-dollar budgets or parishes “the size of a small business.” “Our focus is purely on the pastor and what his responsibilities are,” he said.
According to a CUA announcement, the program has been endorsed by Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy, Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, Bishop Checchio and Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C. Cardinal Wuerl, CUA’s chancellor, said the master’s degree will help pastors guide their parishes in stewarding and matching appropriate resources to ministries.