This past summer, the Center for Church Management in the Villanova School of Business continued to fill a unique need for the Church in the United States. Thirty-one recently ordained priests and seminarians from nine dioceses and religious orders gathered July 24-28 on Villanova University’s campus to develop their knowledge and skills in church management and administration.

Throughout the week-long certificate program, Villanova professors and staff led engaging conversations on various topics to help newly ordained priests and men in formation for various ministries grow in practical areas of leadership. Topics covered included Church Management in a Mission-Driven Church, Budgeting for Mission, Human Resource Management, Building Trust and Leading Change, and the Ministry of Clergy Fundraising.

“In my five years of seminary formation, this has been the first intentional and dedicated program or training we have received in church management,” said Ed Towns, one of six Philadelphia seminarians who participated in the program.

“I am most grateful for this opportunity to learn best practices and principles for becoming a stronger leader and a more prudent decision maker in building our faith communities.”

The Certificate in Church Management for Men in Formation was created to help fill this void, the need to supplement seminary formation with relevant wisdom from the business world with regards to leadership and management.

Through small group work, case studies, and group presentations, the men learned to bridge mission and management in meaningful ways.

“I was able to learn, share and reflect on church management techniques, tools and resources to bring people closer to Jesus [and how to see] parish administration as an opportunity for evangelization and missionary discipleship,” said Philadelphia seminarian Przemek Rozestwinski.

Center for Church Management/Villanova School of Business

Center for Church Management/Villanova School of Business

The Center for Church Management at Villanova University provides education and scholarships in the Augustinian Catholic tradition on strategic, management, and financial matters in service to leaders of churches and other Christian faith-based ministries. It is this unique blending of Catholic teaching and values with business principles and effectiveness that makes the Center for Church Management special.

Fr. Joe Franz from the Diocese of Buffalo, who was ordained June 2022, said the program was beneficial, “The gifts, talents, and hospitality of Villanova University have been life changing for me and my lens for missionary discipleship.”

This week-long program on campus would not be possible without the generous support of the Lilly Endowment Inc. as part of their National Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders. Villanova University has received three consecutive grants from the Lilly Endowment totaling $2.25 million. Generous benefactors to the Villanova Center for Church Management stepped up to match the last $1.25 million from the Lilly Endowment to make this week on campus available to participants at no cost

The grant funding is also used to provide scholarships for Villanova University’s Master of Science in Church Management degree, the Certificates in Church Management and Catholic School Management, and to fund 36 research fellowships over the past five years.

“The Lilly Endowment and our committed and generous benefactors provided the investment to make this program a reality,” added Matthew Manion, the David Grenon Family Faculty Director of the Center for Church Management. “It is a blessing to strengthen ordained and lay leaders from around the world, and it is extra special to serve the people in our home Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Recently ordained priests and men in formation to be clergy face rapidly changing realities in parish life. According to Chuck Zech, Ph.D., the founder of the Center for Church Management, “The church is not a business, but it is an organization, and we have a responsibility to steward the resources of that organization in a way that is worthy of the gospel.”

This program from the Villanova School of Business is one of the many ways that the Church in Philadelphia is preparing her men to lead and manage vibrant faith communities in the future. They are learning how to administer parishes and unleash the talents and gifts of the lay people around them to fulfill the mission of Jesus Christ.

To learn more about the Center for Church Management at Villanova University, click here.


Matt Davis is the Associate Director for the Center for Church Management at Villanova University