SHARED LEADERSHIP WITHIN A ROMAN CATHOLIC PARISH
The purpose of this longitudinal study of a Roman Catholic parish is to add direct observational data in support of the developing hypothesis that it is necessary to train groups rather than individuals if shared leadership is to be accomplished. Based on the speculation that human organizations can best be understood and dealt with in the context of being social systems (Parsons, Getzels, Likert, Burns, Argyris, and Rice), a theoretical understanding of shared leadership is considered within the leadership-followership dynamic being revealed by the behavioral sciences. The parish church is then taken up as a social system by reviewing recent sociological studies (Greeley, Ottenweller, and Reed) which suggest that the American Catholic Church is making a "return to the basics" of small group interactions as faith cells in families and in neighborhood clusterings.^ The observations of this study center on a New England parish named, for the sake of anonymity, Saint Gilbert's. The pastor had asked this researcher to help him overcome a strong habit of parishioner dependency so that they could begin to share with him more of the pastoral responsibilities. As a group training program for him and his parishioners, a hybrid model of a Tavistock study group (Bion, Rioch, and Lawrence) was formed in which the members were provided with opportunities to confirm within themselves their own right to work as leaders by being placed within an ostensibly leaderless gathering. Because Tavistockian consultation involves the systematic analysis of the informal processes at work within a group, the field study approach of participant observation (Fichter, Blau, Bruyn, and Sturzo) was chosen as the research methodology.^ The conclusions of this basic research study verify within the organizational structure of a Roman Catholic parish of today what Bion found within the therapeutic clinics of Tavistock years ago, namely, that shared leadership can be realized once covert feelings about authority are faced and related habits of dependency are resolved. The findings of this study also suggest that the transformation of group attitudes and behaviors can only be observed properly by studying the actual process of man. ^
CZAJA, PAUL CLEMENT, "SHARED LEADERSHIP WITHIN A ROMAN CATHOLIC PARISH" (1983). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8308471.