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Empowering Catholic Leaders

Meeting growing needs with fewer resources. Avoiding staff burnout. Integrating Catholic values in increasingly diverse organizations. These are just some of the challenges faced by the leaders of Catholic Charities agencies.

This fall, senior leadership teams of 10 Catholic Charities agencies from across the country gathered at Notre Dame for the first half of a comprehensive two-part program, “From Mission to Service: A Program on Mission-based Leadership and Organization Development.”

Underwritten by the University of Notre Dame and designed and taught by senior Notre Dame faculty in business and theology as well as other national leaders, the program offers participants practical insights through instruction, reflection, best practices, and action learning projects.

Forty years ago, nearly all of the Catholic Charities organizations were headed by priests, and now 75 percent of the executive directors are laypeople. “This shift in leadership requires us to attend to Catholic identity in new ways,” says Dean Carolyn Woo. “This program results from the collaboration of lay and clerical leaders, and between business faculty and theologians. It is an innovation with spiritual and social significance.”

The Catholic Charities network consists of more than 1,400 local agencies and institutions nationwide. They annually assist nearly 7 million people by providing emergency aid, counseling, adoption assistance, housing, and numerous other services.

—Nicole Shirilla (’00, ’02)

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