Archdiocese of Chicago

Catholic Chicago Blog

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Winning Gold – Leadership Day 2014

By Nancy Polacek

I’ll admit it; I’m a hooked on the Olympics!  The athletic competitions are exciting and what really draws me in are the stories of an athlete’s life, when you get a glimpse of the challenges and obstacles each person has had to overcome.

This year I’ve actually experienced a behind-the-scenes view of an annual event at the Archdiocese that sometimes feels as big and grand as the Olympics.  This event comes around once every year, takes hundreds of volunteer hours to make it happen and inspires over 1,000 people in one day.  I’m talking about Parish Leadership Day.

Since 1987 the Archdiocese of Chicago has offered Leadership Day as a way to provide formation for parishioners, who have not received training in ministry, yet they have a potential for leadership in their parish.  Over those 27 years, Rita Katner and Barbara Croker worked to refine a system of committees that begin their planning a year in advance.

While athletes have 4 years between Olympic events to pursue excellence, Leadership Day teams have just 12 months between events to create the perfect program, sign the best keynote speakers, organize workshops and liturgies, and invite exhibitors so that everything comes together on time.  This year there are over 60 workshops in English, Spanish and Polish.  Take a look at the amazing line-up this year at

Yes, the Olympic athletes have demonstrated speed, skill and precision, but all that is nothing compared to what is going on this week, as a talented team of volunteers from across the Archdiocese prepare materials, food, Mass, seating, and all the technology for a great day at Guerin College Preparatory High School in River Grove on February 22nd.

This year we’re going for the gold with our keynote speaker, Fr. Leo who has been called “the cooking priest.”  Fr. Leo will prepare a meal as part of his presentation and later will be available to sign copies of his books, Grace Before Meals and Spicing Up Married Life.

Since I’ve experienced firsthand all the energy, passion and excitement of putting together an awesome Leadership Day program, I’m hooked!  After the Closing Mass on Saturday, February 22nd and once the last exhibitor table is taken down, I’ll be ready to start planning Leadership Day 2015.  We’re looking for dedicated parishioners with a passion for growing and strengthening the parishes of our Archdiocese to be part of our team.  Join us!