Lay Formation Outreach Initiatives

Our mission to form and educate laity for service to the Church and community extends beyond the classroom to staff members and volunteers in parishes, schools, and social service agencies. The following workshops and retreats may be customized to fit specific needs and offered at the Athenaeum main campus, the ministry site, or a retreat center. For information about initiatives, fees, availability, or to discuss a specific need, please call Dr. Susan McGurgan, Director of Lay Ecclesial Formation at 513-231-1200 or email  


Planning for Pastoral Growth  

Effective planning sustains growth, promotes stewardship, and fosters accountability and creativity. This working retreat introduces the principles of pastoral planning in a one or two-day format, drawing from planning principles, Church documents, Scripture, and the ministry site mission statement

Building on Success: Appreciative Inquiry

Organizations grow in the direction of focused attention. Groups focusing on what is inadequate, broken, or dysfunctional may remain stuck in that dynamic. Appreciative Inquiry teaches that changing the focus and the questions can change the outcome. AI is an incarnational approach that builds on success while generating hope. This ½ day or full-day workshop can be incorporated into a planning retreat or offered as a standalone topic.

Maximizing Volunteers

Parishes and schools thrive when there are adequate numbers of well-trained and well-supported volunteers. This ½ day or full-day workshop includes the dynamics of recruiting, supervising, training, managing, and evaluating volunteers. The full-day workshop includes time and support to create a recruitment plan, write job descriptions, develop interview questions, and produce evaluation strategies.

Forming Effective Small Group Leaders

Staff members and volunteers often facilitate groups, but few receive training in essential skills.  This ½ day or full-day workshop includes principles, best practices, and practical skills in communication and group facilitation for ministry. The full-day workshop includes time for practice and feedback.

Staff and Teacher Retreat Days

Retreats may be  ½ day or full-day events with a variety of formats depending on need and interests.

Current Retreat Topics: (Other topics available with preparation time)

  1. Supplying the Needs of the Saints: Reflecting on the Ministry of Administration (designed for parish and school administrators and support staff)
  2. Let Your Life Speak: The Minister (or Teacher) as Evangelist/Crafting your Witness Talk
  3. Embracing Gratitude and Living in Hope
  4. Nourishing Sacred Space in the Classroom
  5. Using Scripture in the Classroom
  6. When We Remember Zion: Fostering Collective Memories of Faith
  7. Enlarge the Stakes of Your Tent: Creating a Community of Welcome

Preached Retreats

Preached retreats are a collaborative effort among the priest/s, deacons, staff members and Director of Lay Ecclesial Formation.  Retreats may be one or two days and include proclamation, reflection on upcoming lectionary readings, personal reflection time, and fellowship. It can include the option for time and resources for homiletic preparation for the clergy.

Forming Intentional Hearers of the Word  

This collaborative effort is designed to foster a deeper engagement in proclamation, preaching, and liturgy by forming parishioners as “intentional hearers of the Word.”  It requires a 2-3 month minimum commitment from the parish staff for planning and implementation and a six-week commitment from 8-30 parish members. Small group formation occurs over 5-6 weeks and engages the participants in communication skills, feedback, and the importance of preaching in the life of the community.