success stories

Posted January 16, 2004

Book: Revolutionizing Pastoral Leaders Through the Internet: The Story of the National Institute for the Renewal of the Priesthood, and its Mission to Spiritually and Intellectually Energize Church Leadership Via the Internet
Author: Eugene Hemrick
Washington Theological Union, Washington, D.C., pp.159

Excerpt from the Introduction:

When I received the edited text of this monograph from my editor, she asked: “For whom is this monograph intended?” Her query reminded me of a question you should never ask anyone if you don’t want to embarrass them: “Well, exactly what do you do?”

This monograph is the story of the newly created National Institute for the Renewal of the Priesthood whose mission is to spiritually and intellectually energize leaders in a pastoral ministry. It is a statement that the new age of information into which God has led us offers us advanced and unique means for continuing God’s work on earth.

At the World Congress of Ecclesiastical Movements in Rome, Monsignor Piero Coda quoting Pope John Paul II reminded participants: “While it is an historical fact that the Church came fourth from the Upper Room on the day of Pentecost, in a certain sense one can say that she has never left it. Spiritually the event of Pentecost does not belong only to the past: the Church is always in the Upper Room she bears in her heart.

In a certain sense, the Institute for the Renewal of the Priesthood is the Upper Room dedicated to making the work of the Church come forth. It is at the disposal of those who are filled with the Spirit and are in search of contemporary ways of rejuvenating the Gospel in church ministry.

Excerpt from Book:

The Roots of www.jknirp.com

Where do I begin to tell my story of The National Institute for the Renewal of the Priesthood – a dream come true — yet mixed with ambivalent feelings?

When the institute was first conceived, it was envisioned as a think tank that would spiritually and intellectually energize pastoral leaders with unique resources, and provide them with a forum for in depth discussions. I remember thinking “What better time than now to do this? Priests, deacons and lay leaders can use all the assistance available during these trying days.”

From its very beginning the institute was well received. And yet despite its success, there were times I wanted to walk away from it and never return. From where did its idea emanate? What inspired its design? How does it operate? And though it’s successful, why is there my ambivalence?

The inspiration behind the institute goes back to my twenty years as director of the office of research for the Bishops’ Conference in Washington, D.C. [1976-1996]. It was a memorable time of conducting research with bishops, university scholars, dioceses, various religious denominations, and national agencies. Approximately one hundred national studies were produced during those years. More important that this were the lessons those years taught me about the value of research for energizing church ministry. I often thought to myself: “If pastoral leaders applied the principles of research to their ministry, its effectiveness would soar.” What are these principles?

Principle 1: Research Evokes the Spirit of Concentration

Franklin D. Roosevelt once said: “Concentration is the secret of strength.” In our research, I learned that as taxing as was the deliberation it required, this concentration acted as a catalyst for consolidating our thoughts and energies, and creating a strong team spirit. Oh, we had our battles and fractures, but as Ernest Hemingway once observed, “The world breaks everyone, and afterward many are strong in the broken places.” We always overcame our differences, and were stronger because of the experience.

I often thought when feeling this wholesome spirit: “Wouldn’t it be great for church leaders to experience the strength that concentration generates?” Unfortunately, many of them are in perpetual motion with little time for serious reflection. Years ago the renowned theologian and cultural analyst Romano Guardini realized how feverish life is becoming and commented that we are losing our contemplative edge.

One reason the national institute exists is to enable pastoral leaders to maintain the contemplative edge of which Guardini speaks. This is accomplished by providing a web page that acts as a laboratory or quiet library where serious reflection and intellectual muscle this creates can happen.

Table of Contents:

Chapter I: The roots of www.jknirp.com

Chapter II: To be or not to be

Chapter III: From inspiration to perspiration and creation

Chapter IV: Laying the foundation

Chapter V: Taking form

Chapter VI: Putting the Institute on the map

Chapter VII: Measuring Success

Chapter VIII: A brief look at the day-to-day work of the Institute

Chapter IX: What is a healthy working situation when working in the digital world?

Chapter X: The crux of the problem

Chapter XI: Coming to grips with ambivalence

Appendix I: The original proposal for creating the National Institute for the Renewal of the Priesthood that was sent out for comment on its feasibility

Appendix II: The Many Faces of Priestly Spiritual: A monograph containing the responses to the question: What most sustains your spiritual life amid a busy, daily schedule?

Appendix III: Promoting www.jknirp.com through the press

Appendix IV: Brochure for the National Institute for the Renewal of the Priesthood

Appendix V: E-mail moral support for the Institute