Parish Secretaries; on the front line of our churches
As the Archdiocese moves forward in different priority areas, the annual gathering of the Archdiocese’s Parish Secretary Day provided an opportunity to acknowledge the important and pivotal role played by the parish secretaries in our Catholic community.
Often the role of Parish Secretary is the first point of contact a visitor or caller will have with a parish. Often described as a “ministry of welcoming others,” patience and compassion are often needed along with professional office skills to fulfil their duties. Life in the parish office is never dull. Each day is different and rewarding, from dealing with the more mundane office activities, through to assisting parishioners with significant events in their lives: births, deaths, and marriages.
The annual gathering of parish secretaries has been going on for more than a decade within the Archdiocese. Parish Support Manager Deborah Foote said the day is equal parts recognising and thanking the secretaries for their faithful service, as well as providing them with new information and training.
“Our secretaries are truly the engine that runs the Archdiocese,” she said. “People would be amazed at the amount of work these people do. They are often the first point of contact within the parish, and they’re expected to know everything,” said Deborah.
“If someone wants to hire the parish premises, the secretaries have to make sure there’s a contract drawn up, that they have public liability, that they have to work with children checks if necessary. They have to explain if there’s a fee involved, have to make sure the place is left in a neat and tidy condition, have to explain work health and safety rules, and all in a friendly, lovely manner.
“Not to mention the many other tasks they cover… book-keeping, new technologies and software, websites, and facebook they look after… it’s a huge load they carry, and we are fortunate to have such helpful, positive, and caring secretaries doing so much for us.”
This year representatives from the Catholic Development Fund were guest speakers
Deborah said the event was the main professional development for the secretaries and created opportunities for networking with crucial Archdiocesan personnel.
“We try to bring in people from different areas of the Archdiocese who have different areas of expertise so they’re up to date on the latest policies and regulations and what they need to know. It’s a practical day with presentations relevant to their daily life in the parish.” Deborah said.