September 16, 2005

2005 Religious Education Supplement

Religious education, school and youth ministry work together

By Brandon A. Evans

The goals of religious education, youth ministry and a Catholic school are similar enough that it makes sense to say they work best when they work together.

St. Bartholomew Parish in Columbus operates on the principle that more collaboration will improve ministry.

For that reason, the entire parish staff meets once a week for a good portion of the day.

It’s something that, some days, can be difficult to make time for, said Kathy Schubel, principal of St. Bartholomew School. But, she added, it’s worth the effort.

“We kind of feed off of one another,” Schubel said. “It just sets a tone for the relationship of the entire staff.”

That relationship, she said, is particularly strong and well-formed between herself and Kathy Davis-Shanks, the director of religious education at the parish, and Katy Stallings, the youth ministry coordinator.

“Well, the best part is that we’re all in the same building together,” Schubel said. Also, the three get along very well and share a similar attitude toward collaboration—something that she said their pastor, Father Clem Davis, has stressed.

“I guess the biggest piece that allows us to collaborate … is that we are all working with the same focus,” Schubel said, and that is making the educational ministries the best they can be.

“We overlap some of those services and by being in conversation with one another, by brainstorming with one another, by energizing one another, it makes for a win-win for all of our programs.”

She said that the struggle is to let go of possessive attitudes and attempts to carve out particular exclusive space for your particular ministry.

“As you let those boundaries down, it allows for those relationships to grow,” she said. “I think we rely on that honesty with one another, and it helps keep that tendency to want to create boundaries … at bay somewhat.”

“In our parish, there’s a sense of ‘we’re a team’ and that we’re all in this together,” Davis-Shanks said. Her ministry of religious education is tied into the school and youth ministry.

The seeds of collaboration go back even before the mid-eighties, when she came to the parish.

“It just seems like we’ve been doing it forever,” she said.

The goals of each ministry are almost the same, Davis-Shanks said—but each deals with a different group of people.

There is a sense, she added, that the parish staff each care about all the ministries, and that there is fairness and equality with regard to how the budget is divided.

Schubel said that she is friends with Davis-Shanks and Stallings in particular, and that if either of them left she would hope that their replacements would be as open to collaboration as they are.

“They are great people to work with,” she said. “We aren’t operating just as the head of our ministries, but we also are in this as friends, so we appreciate being able to spend some time with one another.” †


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