by Susan Sullivan
The Ministry Leadership Program (MLP), offered by Australian Catholic University (ACU), aims to support the continued delivery of Catholic ministries in the spirit of the Gospel, the same spirit which inspired their founders. This spirit strives for a very special and distinctive approach to the care and compassion provided within all our Catholic services.
Catholic ministries are today largely governed and managed by lay people. Alongside the requisite professional skills, today’s leaders bring diverse backgrounds and relationship to Church. The need has long been acknowledged for formation opportunities where leaders can reflect on and deepen their understanding of Catholic thought and practice.
The MLP program offers leaders the knowledge, skills and resources to better understand, integrate and live out the distinctive mission, identity and ethos of our ministries of service. It brings together senior leaders from the diverse Catholic ministries of service around the country, enabling critical collaboration towards cultivating a mission-inspired culture. Overwhelming evidence from formal and informal evaluation data shows a dramatic increase in leaders’ understanding of and capacity to confidently integrate a mission focus in their role. This growth is specifically attributed to MLP.
MLP is a highly practical program where in-session learnings are immediately applicable on return to the workplace. This practical integration is central to ongoing leader formation and development, while simultaneously contributing to the mission. Each session offers insight into a particular set of values and concerns of the Catholic tradition and invites participants to make connections to their leadership knowledge and experience, and the day-to-day responsibilities and challenges they face.
While MLP complements other formation offerings, the mutual understanding and trust developed through the diverse cross-sector engagement at MLP sessions builds a sector wide community of leaders better able to collaborate, innovate and grow the mission.
Consultations ahead of the Plenary Council and the implications of the Light from the Southern Cross Report highlight the growing demand for well-formed leaders. The imperative to join in support of collaborative formation initiatives for leaders has never been greater. MLP continues to demonstrate its success in this arena.
MLP enables the Catholic tradition to continue to find expression, practical relevance and be an instrument for hope in the world through its ministries of service, so the mission of the Gospel is handed on to future generations.
In January 2016 there was resounding endorsement by Catholic health, aged care and social services providers for development of a collaborative national formation program. The MLP commenced in July 2017 under the auspices of Catholic Health Australia. Now transitioned to ACU, 120 leaders from over twenty organisations have participated to date.
Susan Sullivan is Manager, Ministry Leadership Program at the Australian Catholic University