People in ministry must become Lifelong Learners

BRIDGEPORT—“What does effective learning look like in a digitally connected world?” “How are we helping youth take information and transform it into knowledge and wisdom? and How are we engaging our communities in faith in a digital way?” asked Charlotte McCorquodale, president of Ministry Training Source.

Speaking last night in the Queen of Saints Hall at the Catholic Center to more than 150 catechists and other involved in ministry in the diocese, McCorquodale urged those currently serving in ministry to become lifelong learners and to understand the impact of new technologies on young people.

Dr. McCorquodale, an international educator, researcher, and consultant for the fields of lay ecclesial ministry, discussed Going, Going, Gone: The Dynamics of Disaffiliation in Young Catholics published by St. Mary’s Press, a new study which gives insight into why young people might be leaving the Church.

“Increasingly young Catholics are weakly attached to the Church.” McCorquodale said, presenting a challenge to her listeners to recreate the world around them in order to reincorporate those who have become unaffiliated.

The Leadership Summit was held to discuss the progress of Bishop Caggiano’s invitation to Lifelong Faith Formation and how the Diocese of Bridgeport is working to meet the needs of each and every parish.

Members of the Diocese who serve in many different ministries at their respective parishes were able to hear about programs and initiatives that are available to them and those they serve.

Patrick Donovan of the Leadership Institute kicked off the evening by addressing the fact that those who serve in ministry are an eclectic audience made up of a number of different specializations and age groups.

“We share ministry, we need to make sure we share information,” Donovan told the gathering.

Photos by Amy Mortensen

In the keynote talk, McCorquodale explained that at the heart of ministry is storytelling, meaning we are both storytellers and witnesses to those we serve.

Ministry leaders present were able to interactively answer questions about what learning means, how learning has changed in today’s world, and what this means for the modern learner.

McCorquodale described learning as “the making of meaning,” and encouraged all gathered that they are all lifelong learners. She then went on to explain that the growing influence of technology has changed the way that we think and learn, as well as our relationships and the way we relate to one another.

The speaker also drew examples from the book The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge, which discusses practices of becoming a learning organization.

McCorquodale explained that real learning starts with our experience and that it is important to transform information in a way that encourages and invites others into an experience.

She speaker encouraged the audience to embrace creative tension because it creates energy for change and growth and it is then that a transformation can take place.

Ministers must embrace a new vision of leadership and help those they serve by being designers and stewards of learning and that they can do this by being lifelong learners themselves, continually deepening and broadening their personal vision, she said.

In her closing remarks McCorquodale encouraged those gathered that they are not alone in ministry, and are supported by the Diocese of Bridgeport, the Leadership Institute and the different programs and initiatives it provides.

During the evening those in attendance also heard updates on Safe Environments, communication policies and best practices, The Face of Prayer 2.0, new Liturgical norms, and ways that the Diocese of Bridgeport plans to encourage ongoing formation for all.

Ministry leaders were able to gather information about these programs, ask any questions, and meet and discuss with other ministry leaders.

For information on upcoming Leadership Institute summits and other programs, visit:

By Elizabeth Clyons