9600 to empower independent theologian
9600 faithful people can fuel innovation in Catholic ministry!
I am asking for your support at the $10 level to retire my academic debt so that I have freedom to work as an independent Catholic theologian.
In my late 30s, I took an incredible leap and closed down my marketing communications firm, packed up my home and kids with my spouse, and changed careers to lead a national ministry serving innovation in the Catholic community. It was one of the craziest and best decisions of my life.
I'm now 55. I completed my PhD in ecclesiology, liturgical theology, and organizational leadership theory this past year. I am now looking at what's next. What I want to do almost as much as I want to breathe is to create "new wineskins" for the leadership of Pope Francis. What I mean by that is to work with practitioners -- aka the folks tilling the ministry field -- to develop new, inclusive approaches to ministry that make a difference. Many of these will be relevant beyond the boundaries of Catholicism.
Ministry innovation projects include:
* Developing new ways to engage and include adults in early professional life and early parenting in the life of the Church
* Empowering Ministry professionals from marginalized cultures in delineating a new three-phase paradigm that fuels the creation of inter-cultural, not multi-cultural, parishes.
* Generating a better understanding of what it means to lead through inclusion, partnership and dialogue.
* Transforming how parishes do welcome on the high feasts of the Church (Easter and Christmas).
* Presenting the Church with an interest-based model for working with teens in parishes that engages all adults of the parish as potential contributors.
And that's just what I've scoped for myself in the past six months. There is so much more!
What I would like to do (this outrageous "ask") is find 9600 faithful people who believe in me and/or these projects to contribute $10 each to retire my academic debt from my M.Div. and my Ph.D.
Who would want to help me achieve this freedom?
* People who believe in the power of faith expressed in community.
* People who want to see new ministry approaches that are reality-based and drawn from best practices.
* People who are unhappy with the disenfranchisement of women leaders within the diocesan and parish system.
I am working with a cluster of folks in the Twin Cities to fuel five-year support for my leadership as a fully funded independent theologian as well as the funds needed to research and model the projects I've described. I am clear that this work cannot be done within the confines and restrictions of an institution, nor can it be developed sufficiently under the auspices of a publishing company. AND I know that the financial burden of my academic debt is an impediment for me in working on a grassroots, entrepreneurial basis.
When Jesus' disciples were devastated and cowering in fear, he sent the Spirit upon them so that they could go out and do the work for which he had commissioned them. I ask you to help me in retiring this debt so that I will be even freer to make brave choices in pursuing the work to which I feel profoundly called.
What I can give in return:
In return, if you'd like, I will put you on an email list for daily, original reflections that I will write starting in Advent, Nov. 20, 2014.
If you contribute to me at the $100 level, I will give you a copy of one of the books I have underway, your choice.
If you contribute at the $500 level, I will send you a copy of every book I write until I die. I hope that's going to be a lot of books. (In fact, I hope by the end you are ahead a few dollars!)
If you contribute at an even higher level, I do a workshop for the community of your choice on a topic such as empowering collaboration and dialogue in faith communities at no cost other than travel expenses.
Finally, if this effort exceeds my personal need, I am going to put the additional money in a fund under the non-profit my partners and I are regenerating. This money will be disbursed by the board as a debt relief fund available to others in Catholic ministry who are burdened in paying for their education while holding low-paying ministry positions. There is, literally, a scandalous absense of funding available for theological education in our tradition, with the pointed exception of celibate men, who are fully funded in their seminary and doctoral educational pursuits.
Thank you for considering this request. I would be profoundly grateful if you would share this extensively with people in your life who might generously support me.
One thing that Nicole's mention was not able to say was that I am not looking for charity, but parity. My desire is to ask for many small contributions (9200!) for which I will provide the services you saw on my page. If any of you are willing, I would welcome support from you in the form of outreach to others regarding this small way of supporting me. My HS classmates, college classmates, grad school classmates, friends, family -- all of you might be able to set this in motion in the viral way that is needed. The Georgetown Alum community alone could do it, if I could find a way to reach broadly!
Why am I doing this crazy outreach? Because the debt we are shouldering, along with Nora's college debt and the obligation we will have with Justin and Mairead, are simply too great for people as ANCIENT as Pete and me! All kidding aside, our student loan payments right now are only about $100 less than our mortgage.
Right now, I'm in conversation with the founders of the Leaven Center, a Catholic Publisher, and a prestigious Catholic University about a collaborative series of projects. This may take a few month to come together, but I am very excited.
Again, thank you for your support in anyway you have provided it. I ask for your prayers in my discernment in the days ahead as I look for where God wants me to serve, and how.