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Episode 13: Collaboration
18th March 2022 • Encounter Grow Witness • EGW Detroit
00:00:00 00:42:18

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How can we collaborate better together as a church? In this episode of Encounter Grow Witness, Sandy O’Shaughnessy shares how her role as Director of Religious Education at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Plymouth, Michigan has been transformed through collaboration. Fr. Steve Pullis and Beth Spizarny join the discussion as the three reflect on healthy conflict, listening, and patience. A highlight of this episode is Sandy’s sharing about what her morning prayer time looks like, and some practical things she does to welcome the Lord into her day. Take a listen!

(00:04) Fr. Steve welcomes fellow co-host Beth Spizarny and the episode’s guest, Sandy O’Shaughnessy. Sandy serves as the Director of Religious Education at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Plymouth, Michigan. Fr. Steve asks Beth and Sandy, “Which month is the best month in Michigan?” They discuss changing seasons, and pumpkin spice lattes.


(04:45) Beth honors Sandy for her receptivity and generosity with her resources and time. Fr. Steve asks Sandy, “What does prayer look like for you today?” Sandy values her morning prayer times, setting her “first fruits” aside for the Lord. She finds reading Scripture daily helps her connect with God. Practically, Sandy sets a timer on her phone, and lights a candle to mark her time as prayer. The Prayer of Abandon by St. Charles de Foucauld is a favorite prayer for Sandy.


(16:00) “Unleash the Gospel gives us permission to think outside the box.” Shandy shares about collaboration in her parish. Sandy mentions that one of her favorite parts of collaboration is listening and connecting with the other Directors of Religious Education in her family of parishes. She has seen her parish of families connect and grow in trust as they’ve began to meet consistently to collaborate.


(26:18) The four levels of collaborative ministry: 1. Co-existence. 2. Communication. 3. Cooperation. 4. Collaboration: ownership of a common mission, desire to work together, and decision to unite different gifts.


(30:08) Mining for conflict and finding differences: Fr. Steve brings our attention to the idea of “conflict done well.” Healthy communication and relationships within collaboration are strong when conflict can be addressed. Fr. Steve says that asking for forgiveness is important to collaboration. Trust is necessary to work through differences of opinions and being truly honest about your ideas.“Learning to disagree well” is a concept Beth brings up.


(36:0 4) “We need to give ourselves permission to let it be a little clunky.” Sandy adds to the discussion that change isn’t always perfect the first time. And allowing yourself and your team to grow into new collaboration methods takes time.


(37:50) Beth shares a story of trying to implement change related to RCIA at her parish. Through this experience, she learned how to accompany and listen instead of insisting and quickly changing things. A prayer summit before the pandemic opened Beth’s eyes to collaboration; the event helped her listen and build relationships, and change came from those discussions.


(41:16) Fr. Steve thanks Sandy for all of her work for her parish, and for the witness of her using her gifts and talents for the Lord. Thanks for listening!

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