Wall, Jack

Father Jack Wall was pastor of St. Patrick Church in Chicago for 24 years.

Jack Wall wrote  “Chapter 9: Pastoring and Administering a Mission-Driven Church” for A Pastor’s Toolbox.  He relates that, when he became the pastor of St. Patrick Church in 1983, the parish had shrunk to a handful of members.  Over the years, the parish community grew to number 4,000 households.  The chapter is devoted to an elaboration of Wall’s “foundational insight,” namely, that the parish is not a member-centered institution, but a mission-driven institution which invites its members to assume responsibility for ministry.

Parish pastoring and administering, writes Father Wall, stand on three metaphorical legs.  The first is the pastoral council, known at St. Patrick’s as the “board of guarantors.”  The aim of the board, he wrote, is to “guarantee” the mission of the Church.  The use of the term “board,” Father Wall writes, conveys to members that they were not to be “looking at all the practical things a pastoral council gets involved with” (96).  Instead, their goal was to make sure that the parish could sustain itself.

The parish’s second leg is “a strong business partner.”  Father Wall hired someone who became the parish’s “executive director” and “management genius.”  The executive director enabled the pastor to be a leader rather than a manager.

The third leg is what Father Wall calls “the power of joint venturing.”  As an example, St. Patrick’s established a parochial school as an expression of its mission.  The school now has two campuses, 800 students, and a $15 million budget with a social outreach program that spends $7 million.

The chapter tells an inspiring story about a parish that embraced its mission and drew upon the gifts of lay members.

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