Do priests go to Shepherd School?

By Fr. Luke Ferris | Special To The Compass | May 4, 2022


I have heard about new priests attending something called “Shepherd School” with the diocese. What is that? What do they learn?  Why is it called that? – Green Bay


Shepherd School is a two-year program of education for all diocesan, religious order, and international priests and pastoral leaders, who are first-time administrators at a parish or parishes in our diocese. Over the course of quarterly meetings and three-day summer sessions for two years, these priests and pastoral leaders receive instruction and share discussion related to all aspects of governing a parish. The general categories of topics include finance and business operations, governing parish councils, staff development and human resources, safe environment issues (VIRTUS), church regulations (called canon law), other diocesan guidelines and self-care. 

This program is called Shepherd School because it is helping priests and pastoral leaders become good shepherds of God’s people. Shepherd School trains priests and pastoral leaders who are new to their positions or from another diocese. All priests and pastoral leaders in these new circumstances are required to be part of this ongoing two-year formation program. 

The program was started in 2008 when Fr. Paul Demuth served as the diocese’s vicar for clergy. We have an average of seven students “graduate” each year, meaning that there are 14 students in class at any given time.

Newly-ordained priests have a separate program and will be part of this program in future years. This program meets every three months for three years and is a chance for priests to discuss different aspects of priestly life, pray together and share meals. It consists of discussion around a current question like, “What are you doing for Lent?” Then we spend a holy hour together in front of the Blessed Sacrament, pray evening prayer and go out to dinner. 

Fr. Ferris is vicar for clergy and pastoral leaders for the Diocese of Green Bay.

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