In  September, half of the trustees of Saint John’s Seminary in Brighton, Massachusetts, gathered to view the In Trust Center’s webinar on “Board Orientation: Laying a Strong Foundation.” Saint John’s, operated by the Archdiocese of Boston, enrolls 119 students from 22 dioceses and religious orders.

Saint John’s has a two-tiered board governance system — members of the corporation include the archbishop and senior archdiocesan officials (all of whom are clergy), while the board of trustees includes both ordained and lay members. The trustees do not serve in a merely advisory role but have broad, mandated authority to establish policies and supervise the management of the seminary’s affairs.








Msgr. James Moroney, the seminary rector, engaged consultant Christa R. Klein, president emerita of In Trust, to help the trustees begin to engage strategic questions surrounding finances, fundraising, facilities, and alumni relations. With Klein’s help, the trustees were surveyed on their knowledge of institutional issues, and during a follow-up meeting, they determined that they would benefit from additional education. 

Klein encouraged them to participate in the upcoming webinar on board responsibilities, which is what led so many to gather for the webinar viewing. After following up with a discussion, the board appointed a governance task force to collaborate with the rector on priorities and to plan the next three board meetings.

As a result the trustees now share a renewed commitment to addressing financial issues, but they are also engaging more deeply with the four pillars of Catholic theological education: human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral formation. They are exploring how to use regular executive sessions to deepen their partnership with the rector to pursue strategic goals, and they have lengthened their meetings to allow time for worship and meeting with seminarians.

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