Reverend James R. White, D.Min., Chaplain, Seton Hall Preparatory School presented a lecture on the topic of Leadership and Communication for Deacons
to the Diocese of Paterson permanent diaconate candidates and their wives at St. Paul Inside the Walls, Madison on Saturday January 5, 2013. Effective communication, especially the use of listening skills is identified by the National Directory for the Formation, Ministry, and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States
as a basic standard for readiness for ordination.
Fr. White offered an interactive approach to illustrate forms of listening and communication skills. We often only think of communication as written or spoken words. But listening skills are also an important component of effective communication. How do we listen? What do we do that shows the other person that we are, in fact, listening to them? Our body language, eye contact, reinforcement of the other person’s feelings and reflecting back to them what they have told us are all components of good listening skills.
Another aid for effective diaconate ministry is the ability to remember conversations with a parishioner, notes for a homily, or even names of members of a family. Fr. White provided the group with a memory peg model which associates the item to be remembered to a specific picture. Using this technique he demonstrated how visual memory can assist in easily recalling important facts, tasks or items.
The workshop concluded with discussions about active and reflective listening. This listening skill clarifies and summarizes what the other person said, focusing on content and feelings expressed in the other person’s words. The listener uses his/her own words to assure the other person he/she has been heard and the listener understands.
The next pastoral formation program will be a presentation on the Theology of the Body
by Joseph P. Rice, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Philosophical Theology on Saturday, March 2, 2013.