Renee Villa has been pastoral associate at Christ the King parish in Snyder for nine years. While she has yet to take the new parish administration course, she has earned a Masters of Arts in Pastoral Ministry and is finishing her Masters in Divinity at Christ the King Seminary. Her administrative skills have come with on-the-job training, but she provides a good model of what the Seminary and diocese hope to achieve with the new parish administrator training.
"I don't know what I would do without Renee," said Father John Gaglione, pastor of the parish. "She is highly educated and qualified from her seminary studies and it is a real advantage that she is a lay person. She relates well with the members of the parish, and in some ways, they may feel more at ease in approaching her."
How a parish operates often goes unnoticed by the congregation. The pastor is ultimately responsible for much more beyond Sunday Mass. Things such as buildings and grounds, purchases, finances, utilities, insurance and a school, in some cases, all must be attended to. Of course, a business manager will likely help in these areas, but there is even more going on behind the scenes.
On any given day, Renee is involved in myriad tasks, from scheduling ushers, lectors and Eucharistic ministers, to running the RCIA program and development of faith enrichment programs for the parish. She brings the added advantage of having studied Canon law at the seminary and is able to help parishioners understand issues such as getting married in the Church, baptisms or helping a family member convert to Catholicism. Villa pointed to the collaborative model of teaching at the seminary, involving seminarians, deacons, and laity, as a key to her role as pastoral associate.
"Being around the clergy at the seminary, you not only learn from their coursework, you see their spirituality and are inspired by it," she said. "It is a privilege to be a part of the parish in this capacity to support Father John. He is the voice of the parish and I can be the eyes and ears as we work together in service to the people of Christ the King."