From Crisis to Challenge to Change

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With our mission of bringing people, process, and ministry together to help build the Kingdom of God alive and active, ISPD continues to create, share, and offer resources that may be helpful to Catholic schools and parishes. As you may know, the following is being done:

  • Offering Virtual Catholic School and Parish Development Cohort sessions every Monday at 1:00 PM Central Time;
  • Surveying Catholic leaders throughout the country every 10-15 days in order to understand challenges, learn best practices, hear wonderful human-interest stories, and share those results;
  • Creating newsletters – once monthly, now bi-weekly – in order to offer perspective and suggestions;
  • Sharing resources, such as PowerPoints and relevant information;
  • Passing on other resources we gather and are sent that will be of help to Catholic leaders. For example, Elizabeth Goettl, the CEO/President of the Cristo Rey Network, is happy to share the Covid resources on the network’s site with anyone interested: Thank you, Elizabeth, and also thanks to Father Mike Conway, SDB, a long-time friend, former client, and president of Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School and Corporate Work Study Program in Takoma Park, MD.

For many years, we (ISPD) have been students of “change process.” Working with so many strategic planning efforts over the past 30 years, we have seen many Catholic institutions go through change. In fact, one of the chapters in our upcoming NCEA book – 15 More Lessons Learned in 30+ Years in Catholic School Development – is all about Catholic schools needing to reinvent themselves every 5-7 years. Change can be onerous, and yet change can bring hope.

During this unbelievable time of change right now for all Catholic schools and churches — a time unlike we have ever seen in our history — we believe it would do us all well to revisit and fully understand the stages of change process – in ISPD language. Possibly, this can bring clarity and perspective.

As we approach the end of March 2020, here is the change we have seen, the change we are seeing, and the change we all need to embrace.

  • Stage 1: Norm
    • Several months ago, Catholic schools and parishes in the United States operated and lived their own norm – the way they operated hour to hour, day to day, and week to week. The 2019-20 school/fiscal year moved right along, and we continued to serve millions of people.
    • Anything out of the norm — we had possibly experienced before.
  • Stage 2: Inform
    • As we moved into 2020, we began to hear more of some kind of virus. From Business Insider here is the early timeline:
      • On December 31, 2019: Chinese Health officials informed the World Health Organization about a cluster of 41 patients with a mysterious pneumonia. 
      • January 7, 2020: Chinese authorities identified a new type of coronavirus (called novel coronavirus or nCoV).
      • January 11, 2020: China recorded its first death.
      • January 20, 2020: First U.S. case was reported.
      • January 30, 2020: WHO declared a global public-health emergency.
    • Day to day and hour to hour, we all listened and watched and wondered.
  • Stage 3: Alarm
    • In February, the alarms began to go off with many Catholic leaders, and by mid-March many Catholic schools and churches were closing. By March 19th, nearly all U.S. states had declared a state of emergency. We moved to Stage 4.
  • Stage 4: Storm
    • As we move to the end of March 2020, here is where many Catholic schools and churches are – in the middle of the storm. As ISPD hears from hundreds of Catholic leaders (via surveys, clients, on-line students, Monday cohort sessions, etc.) some have begun to move to Stage 5; some are in Stage 5; and, some are wondering how to move out of Stage 4. We do know this: It is important not to stay in the storm for too long. We all need to move into Stage 5. In other words: All Catholic schools and churches need a Plan of Action NOW! 
  • Stage 5: Re-form
    • Many Catholic schools have re-formed somewhat with on-line education and electronic and virtual communication. Many parishes have re-formed with live streaming of their masses, along with other forms of communication. The one area that we see that has not been developed is an Operational Vitality Plan for the next 120+ days. This will get us fully out of the storm, safely into our reformation, and help us establish our new norm – which is ever-changing, and yet will need our creativity and innovation. ISPD believes we cannot move there unless we engage people. Belonging leads to believing. We cannot do it “eyeball to eyeball,” but we can do it. No longer do any one or two people have the answers. Every Catholic school and parish needs collective wisdom.
  • Stage 6: New Norm
    • What will be your new norm? Although many of our old norms are no longer available, we must create the new ones. Now is the time to get that in place. It may be short-term for the next 3-6 months, but we all need a written plan of action – especially in area of Operational Vitality
      • Communication
      • Enrollment Management
      • People Engagement
      • Leadership
      • Fund Development (Annual, Capital, Memorial, and Planned Giving + Grant Writing and Major Gifts)
      • Alumni Involvement
      • Special Events (many virtual)
      • Total Stewardship
      • Constituent Records

We all will get through this; we are not alone; our Catholic leadership community in this country is strong – locally, regionally, and nationally. Here at ISPD, we will lead by doing what we believe we do best: offering services and processes (both free and priced) that will engage people. We will come out of this crisis with new norms, with unique changes, and with greater appreciation of our own Catholic identity and ministry.

Here is the link to view the video from ISPD’s Virtual Catholic School and Parish Development Session # 1:

Here is the link to register for Development Cohort Session # 2 on Monday, March 30th at 1:00 PM Central:

Here is the link to take the second survey which is active now:

May we plan with prayer and collective wisdom, make decisions with collaborative spirit, and move forward with positive conviction.

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