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National Leadership Roundtable

on Church Management


April 2014

Students gather for leadership, faith conference
Participants at the 2014 ESTEEM Capstone Conference.
Over 100 students and campus ministers from nearly a dozen colleges and universities from throughout the US gathered at St. Clement's parish in Chicago in late March to reflect on their year-long participation in ESTEEM, the young adult leadership program hosted by the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management and Saint Thomas More Chapel & Center at Yale University.


Katie Diller, the ESTEEM national coordinator and a campus minister at St. John Student Center serving Michigan State University, said that the ESTEEM Capstone Conference gives students an opportunity to interact with other emerging Catholic leaders.


"ESTEEM prepares students to be leaders in the church today, reminding them of their baptismal rights and responsibilities, which include offering their skills and talents to their parishes," Diller said.

During the academic year, ESTEEM participants brush up on ecclesiology--how the church operates--engage in service opportunities, and prepare themselves for Catholic life outside campus ministry centers. Part of their training is derived from mentoring relationships that students develop, usually with Catholic adults who work in a field that the student hopes to enter.


"We hope that students learn that their talents, whether in business, graphic design, writing, accounting, to say nothing of the witness of their faith, and everything else, can be used to serve their parishes and the whole church when they graduate," Kerry Robinson, executive director of the Leadership Roundtable, and herself a mentor to a Yale ESTEEM participant, said.


The ESTEEM Capstone Conference included presentations on creating young adult-friendly parishes, a conversation about the church, a panel focused on candid dialogue about issues important to young adult Catholics, and ample opportunity for participants to engage in conversation with one another.

Jordan Spitzley, a student from the Michigan State University, said that he appreciated the intellectual diversity at the conference.


"I enjoyed conversation with other students who have different perspectives on the Catholic faith. It helped me grow in understanding of the church as a whole. I'll take away a wider, broader perspective of the church community," he said.


Amy Harris, an undergraduate at Stanford University, said ESTEEM reinvigorated her faith, saying the Capstone Conference gave her "motivation and an understanding of the importance of serving as a leader in the church."


ESTEEM is present on 11 campuses throughout the US: Yale University; University of California, Berkeley; University of California, Los Angeles; Stanford University; Texas Tech University; Washington University in St. Louis; Purdue University; The Ohio State University; Michigan State University; Robert Morris University; and the University of Dayton.


ESTEEM is funded primarily through the generosity of Catholic foundations, and individual sites contribute through local fundraisers. For more information about ESTEEM, please email

Leadership Roundtable in the news

US Catholic magazine recently featured A Pastor's Toolbox, the latest resource from the Leadership Roundtable and Seton Hall University, based on content from our Toolbox for Pastoral Management Program, now available from Liturgical Press:


Your parish's leaders may be prayerful spiritual guides for your congregation, but can they make important decisions in the logistics of the parish? A Pastor's Toolbox edited by Paul Holmes provides pastors with training in key areas such as finance, budgeting, hiring and firing, fund-raising, and others. This guide of experts' insights is a valuable source for handling the complex management situations pastors face daily. 


The Leadership Roundtable's Kerry Robinson was quoted in the New York Times on an article exploring the theme of communication between Church leaders and the laity:


"Church leaders in the U.S. have about a 10-year jump on some of these matters," as they have sought to restore trust in the wake of the sexual abuse crisis, said Kerry A. Robinson, executive director of the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management, a network of Catholic executives who advise church leaders on managerial challenges. 


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