"EmergentStrengths" will be in Montreal June 1, leading an interactive workshop to help parishioners-in-the-pew recognize their natural gifts and to help parishes create more opportunities for parishioners to use their gifts.

The decision to offer the program here was made by the Office for English Pastoral Services (OEPS) following feedback collected at the Jan. 26 gathering at St. Thomas à Becket Parish – a follow-up to the November Parish Vitality Conference (PVC). More than 80 participants from 16 Montreal parishes and two neighbouring dioceses attended, eager to pursue renewal in their own parishes. Out of the discussions, two pressing needs emerged: guidance on how to integrate people’s individual strengths within the parish, and how to build leadership teams to help shoulder the demands of parish ministry.
“[Breaking out of parish] maintenance mode is our biggest challenge,” said Joseph Di Staulo, who co-ordinates the catechetical program at Montreal’s east-end Maria Ausiliatrice Mission, “and we don’t know how to best start.”
“We want to try new approaches, but many of our resources are taken up by what is already set up,” explained Di Staulo, whose program receives 600-plus children for sacramental preparation each year.
Sr. Rita Toutant, of the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa in Cartierville, mentioned the need to support parish priests in practical ways as proposed by Fr. James Mallon of the Divine Renovation (DR) parish renewal ministry.  
“Perhaps we need to start envi-sioning a model with lay people [serving] as parish co-ordinators more and more, like management-sharing, to support our priests,” Sr. Toutant suggested.
Since the Parish Vitality Conference, both Holy Name of Jesus in Laval and Jesus Light of the World in Pierrefonds have taken steps towards building leadership teams. The latter has formed a Senior Pastoral Team and has created a new job opening for an Evangelization Development Officer. St. Ignatius of Loyola, which is pioneering the DR Senior Leadership Team here in Montreal, will be hosting an Open House June 15, featuring Fr. Mallon as keynote speaker.
The OEPS, together with Parish Vitality facilitator Terrel Joseph of Pillars Trust, considered that EmergentStrengths offered practical tools to help parishes integrate the already existing strengths within their communities, and develop more dynamic and shared leadership. Co-founders and certified professional coaches Elizabeth Yorski and Barry Koen-Butt, a husband-wife team from Markham, Ontario, developed the strengths-based approach three years ago, at the request of their pastor. All programs involve an online CliftonStrengths™ assessment, the same Gallup™ tool endorsed and implemented by Fr. Mallon in his renewal ministry. Another key component of the program is the integration of prayer and Ignatian spirituality.       
“We help Catholic organizations build stronger and more vital faith communities by creating a deep sense of belonging and purpose - one person at a time,” the EmergentStrengths mission states. “We motivate others to recognize their God-given talents and amplify them into strengths.”
Open to everyone, the June 1 session will be held at 9 a.m., St. Monica Parish — one of five sessions.
For more information, contact OEPS at 514 925-4300 ext. 315 or