Parish and School Administrative Staff Explore How to Become “The Welcoming Face of Christ”

BRIDGEPORT—“Speed and familiarity” often get in the way of effective service and ministry, speaker and author Mike Patin said at the Catholic Center this morning.

Speaking to more than 100 parish and school administrative staff as part of a special Formation Day and workshop, Patin said it’s important “to take a second look at things” because in our rushed personal and professional lives it’s easy to miss what’s important.

“You and I see what everyone else does but we also see it differently through the eyes of faith,” said Patin who served in diocesan ministry for the Archdiocese of New Orleans before going on to become a nationally recognized speaker.

“It’s important we take a look at the ministry of the Church in a busy world and ask how we can become the welcoming face of Christ,” said to the men and women who work in offices 82 parishes and 26 schools throughout the diocese.

In a mix of humor, perception, and faith, Patin delivered a tour de force workshop that brought people to laughter and quieted the room to hear a pin drop as he discussed the challenges and opportunities of serving the Church.

The day, sponsored by the diocesan Leadership Institute, began with a greeting form BishopFrank Caggiano who thanked office staff for their ministry of service and working “on the front lines of the Church.”

“You are the face of the Church everyday. You touch people’s lives and quite often deal with the raw emotions of people who may be angry or affected by a loss,” the bishop said.

“These are the moments when people decide, ‘the church loves me–or it’s just treats me like everyone else and I’ll go somewhere else.’”

During the morning and afternoon sessions of the workshop, Patin walked staff through a series of exercises, giving them a chance to articulate their own challenges and deepen their sense of ministry.

He told office staff that they are not immune from the problems that affect people in business or other institutions.

Constant interruption, a lack of resources, a misunderstanding of what they’ve been asked to do and a tendency to work in siloes can cause stress and tension, he said.

While many people look the Church as a refuge from values that overrun their lives in the work world, those who work for the Church “see it from the inside out” and can get disillusioned when they experience unchristian behavior or a violation of Catholic values.

“Our job is to point to Christ. Like the blind man in the Gospel, we all need to be fixed” said Patin, urging them to take the next step to affirms God’s goodness and presence in their lives.

Mike Patin has published two books: A Standing Invitation, and This Was Not in the Brochure: Lessons from Work, Life and Ministry. In 2006, he received the National Catholic Youth Ministry Award. For information about the formation programs and other offerings provided by the diocesan Leadership Institute, visit:

Photos by Michelle Babyak