This is the Month of St. Joseph! We ask for his protection for every confrere and all our works.
It’s been five weeks since the letter of obediences for members of the provincial council and directors was sent out. There are still four months until they take effect. This is a good time to reflect on the process of transition for leaders. Some of the confreres involved have already set up a schedule of meetings; I would be happy to join in some of them. The announcements were made early in the calendar year so there would be plenty of time for a smooth transition. I offer here a few guidelines that I think could help in this process.
1.) The current province delegates and directors continue in their roles of leadership until July 1, with all the responsibilities and authority of their role until that date.
2.) Communication from one work to the new director should be channeled through the current director. The current director may recommend that a colleague make direct contact with the new director, but the current director should be included in the communication.
3.) The current director works with the EPC council to clarify the mission, vision, and strategic plan of the Salesian work. The new director should respect the plan and work collaboratively to implement it. This will ensure greater continuity in the mission.
4.) The entire SDB community needs to be sensitive to the impact a change of leadership can have on an institution, and, more importantly, on the people: the confrere with the new obedience, the other confreres in the community, friends, colleagues, the young people. It is good to share mutual thanks, accept the feelings of loss, grieve a bit, and celebrate together.
5.) Please clean your room and your office. Put files in order.
6.) In the new obedience, the first task is building relationships. Let the people get to know you and grow in trust.
7.) Gradually settle into the new community and ministry. It takes time to hear and appreciate the history (why things are done a certain way); to adopt the mission, vision, and plans as your own; and to understand the responses to particular pastoral situations. It requires much listening.
8.) Accept coaching from the SDB community leaders and colleagues. Share responsibility with the community leaders and colleagues.
9.) Follow-up with the Salesian who continues in leadership in your current ministry. Offer support without interfering.
10.) Avoid making comparisons, blaming, or criticizing a predecessor or the Salesian taking your place.
Change is difficult. With patience, fraternal support, and goodwill, we can move through these changes with hope and serenity. Once again, I thank all the confreres who are finishing an assignment and those who are accepting a new role of leadership.
Next week, Salesian News will be a special edition dedicated to the response of our Salesian works during this year of pandemic. Every SDB community is asked to send to Julia St. Clair one paragraph that briefly recounts: 1. What the Salesian presence did to continue the Salesian mission during the pandemic; 2. What life lessons you have learned during this time; 3. What God is asking of the Salesian presence going forward.
Fr. Tim Zak