Self-Appraisal: "Ministering effectively"
MINISTERING EFFECTIVELY: A PRIEST'S APPRAISAL OF HIS MINISTRY
The accompanying material was developed during 1995-1997 by the Commission for the Continuing Education of Clergy through a subcommittee consisting of Mr Peter Gagen (Archdiocese of Brisbane), Fr Brian Gallagher msc, and Fr Tony Papps (Archdiocese of Adelaide). It was trialed in 1998-2000.
In the process the Commission consulted widely within the Australian Church through bishops, priests, religious and laity and examined corresponding material developed in other national churches, specifically England and Wales, US Catholic Conference and Canada. The Canadian resource, Enhancing Your Ministry, A Resource Kit for Priests by Michael Bannon, approved by the National Federation of Councils of Priests and published in 1996, was found to be most helpful. We thank Novalis Press (Canada) and their agents in Australia, E. J. Dwyer, who have generously given us permission to adapt their material for Australian conditions.
The Commission's overriding concern is that the process outlined in the material will prove to be one that is extremely supportive of clergy in their ministry and not a cause of any anxiety or hurt. How it is explained and implemented will be critically important.
- WHY HAVE AN APPRAISAL?
- WHO IS APPRAISED AND WHEN?
- WHO MANAGES THE APPRAISAL?
- WHAT ARE THE AREAS OF APPRAISAL?
- WHAT IS THE PROCESS OF APPRAISAL
- LIST OF MATERIALS INCLUDED IN PACKAGE
WHY HAVE AN APPRAISAL?
Since "priests will acquire holiness in their own distinctive way by exercising their functions sincerely and tirelessly in the Spirit of Christ" (Vatican II - Decree on the Ministry & Life of Priests. 13), an appraisal will help:
- To affirm and empower the priest (or bishop or deacon) in his ministry through recognition of his accomplishments.
- To assist his growth in commitment through identifying his basic approach to ministry and his priorities in ministry, in light of the diocesan vision.
- To identify areas for ongoing development of his ministerial skills and plan opportunities for this development in the future.
- To identify factors that may be inhibiting the fruitful exercise of his ministry and take steps to change them.
- To strengthen the bonds of communio between the clergy, the parishes and the diocese.
WHO IS APPRAISED AND WHEN?
- Anyone who wishes to be appraised may make the necessary arrangements to do so.
- Particularly appropriate times would include:
- at the end of a term of appointment
- half way through a term of appointment (e.g. after three years for a Pastor).
- The appraisal is not intended to be used for problem solving, but for affirmation.
- N.B. What follows is designed for priests in parish ministry. It would need to be adapted for clergy working in other areas of ministry.
WHO MANAGES THE APPRAISAL?
- Priest himself: The priest's own self-appraisal is integral to the whole process. To assist him in this, a structure such as the following will help:
- Diocesan Director: The person appointed by the Bishop to oversee the process: eg Director of Clergy Life and Ministry or Vicar for Clergy.
- Facilitator: The priest selects his own facilitator from a group which has been appointed by the Bishop in consultation with the Diocesan Director or Council of Priests. The members of this group may be priests, religious or lay people who enjoy the confidence of the priests and have appropriate skills for their role.
- Reviewers: The group of five to eight staff members and parishioners who are involved in the appraisal process. They are selected by the Facilitator from a list of 10 to 12 names and addresses the priest has provided, keeping in mind the diversity of persons, needs and viewpoints in the parish where he is working.
WHAT ARE THE AREAS OF APPRAISAL?
In Pastores Dabo Vobis, Pope John Paul II speaks of the aim of ongoing formation for priests as "promoting a general and integral process of constant growth" and of "deepening each of the aspects of formation -human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral". (71)
We need to keep these four aspects in mind in an integrated way and recognise the primary importance that Pastores Dabo Vobis gives to the human aspect. As we look at the specific responsibilities of the priest in the exercise of his priestly ministry, we can arrive at the following six general categories of ministry -
- Pastoral Ministry
- Evangelising and Teaching Ministry
- Parish Leadership
- Personal and Professional Life.
The Appraisal process takes these categories and names specific pastoral activities within each and then lists competencies or skills related to each activity.
WHAT IS THE PROCESS OF APPRAISAL?
1. The priest contacts the Diocesan Director to discuss the appraisal and the process to be followed. A facilitator is agreed upon and appointed.
2. The facilitator meets with the priest to clarify the process involved and to set a timeline.
3. The priest provides the facilitator with the names and addresses of 8 - 10 people from the parish who he thinks will be good Reviewers. He also indicates the position each one has in the life of the parish.
4. The priest then commences his Self-Appraisal in the areas of review.
5. The facilitator chooses 5 - 8 people from the list of potential reviewers and contacts them by letter. A letter from the priest is included, along with a copy of the Reviewer Appraisal form and a stamped, self-addressed envelope.
6. When the Self-Appraisal and the Reviewer Appraisal forms are returned to the facilitator s/he completes the Summary of Comments.
(The facilitator does not show the individual Reviewer Appraisal forms to the priest). A letter of thanks and acknowledgement is sent to the Reviewers.
7. Priest and facilitator together discuss this Summary, the facilitator making any necessary changes. This summary is for the priest's own files.
8. The facilitator and priest now prepare a Record of Appraisal (for Chancery files) and a Personal Pastoral Plan.
This latter will include:
- an initial Discernment of Strengths & Challenges, Issues & Opportunities
- goals, both short-term and long-term
- specific plans for achieving these goals, including a time-line
- structures and strategies needed to support this. (E.g. the priest may arrange for the facilitator to review the Personal Pastoral Plan with him at regular intervals.)
- criteria to identify success.
9. The facilitator now
- returns the Self-Appraisal form to the priest
- destroys all Reviewer Appraisal forms
- arranges a meeting of the Diocesan Director, facilitator and priest who will discuss the Record of Appraisal before it is sent to the Chancery office, and the Personal Pastoral Plan.
10. In the light of this, arrangements for ongoing formation and development (e.g. Sabbatical) can be made and the Bishop informed accordingly.
LIST OF MATERIALS INCLUDED IN THE PACKAGE
- The Priest's Self-Appraisal (12 pages)
- Sample letters: From facilitator to reviewers (1 page)
- From priest to reviewers (1 page)
- Reviewers' Appraisal Form (4 pages)
- Format for Summary by Facilitator of Seven Areas of Ministry Appraisal (for discussion with the priest and for the priest's Personal Pastoral Plan) (1 page)
- Format for Record of the Appraisal - for the priest's personal file in the Diocesan Office (The priest appraised participates in the preparation of this. (1 page)
- Personal Pastoral Plan prepared by the facilitator and the priest (3 pages)