Editorial by Executive Director of Kildare Ministries
Through anthropological eyes, liminality (from the Latin word līmen, meaning "a threshold”) is the confusion that occurs in times of transition when we no longer hold our original beliefs and values but have not yet fully identified the new. During this liminal stage, we "stand at the threshold" between our previous way of structuring our identity and our community and the new way, which is established by the journey. Teresa and Jim D’Orsa in their book Leading for Mission, reflect that “We live in a liminal time when the old certainties have been eroded and the new is yet not convincing” (D’Orsa 2013). When we recognize ourselves in this stage, we can often also feel uncertain and unclear about our future direction. What is required of leaders in Catholic ministries they argue, are leaders who are both skilled in strategic and operational leadership but also in mission leadership. “Mission thinking” requires us to help bring meaning to things that seem uncertain and as well as help others around us to make sense of what is happening.
The Trustees, as Governors of Kildare Ministries have embraced ‘mission thinking’ bringing light to an uncertain path. They have worked at bringing a new expression to this liminal time through their articulation of the Vision, Mission and Values foundational document and through the Founding Grace Inspiring the New document which is the formation framework for all our ministries. Both documents attempt to provide the roadmap that will bring meaning to our new and emerging identity not only as Kildare Ministries but as Catholic schools and community works who are asking profound questions about Catholic Identity. The faith and personal needs of our students and parents in schools and our participants in the community works, are dramatically different than they were even 5 years ago. “Our [ministries] desperately [need] imaginative mission thinkers and practitioners, who understand the radically changed environment and are able to create relevant transformative responses” (D’Orsa 2013). This is our real challenge as people responsible for developing the narrative for Kildare Ministries. We need to become ‘mission leaders and thinkers’ and to use Paul Sharkey’s theory, we need to ‘do theology’, to respond to the needs of our students and communities.
In this light, the Gathering Together: Lightening our Way conference to be held in August will provide the opportunity to discuss and negotiate this liminal space we find ourselves in. As we talk through and discern the challenges that face us we will begin to understand not only what confronts us but how we might respond as a Kildare Ministries community. In addition, building relationships between and across the various governance levels, across all the ministries is vital to good governance as well.
Governing in faith based ministries is value rich governance. Unlike corporate governance where you would expect the articulation of success to be expressed by measuring KPIs, developing financial strategy and assessing risk appetite, in Kildare Ministries we understand that these ‘targets’ are necessary but not sufficient. We will rise and fall on our ability to become mission focused leaders and inculcate a culture where our common purpose and our shared values are enlivened through our work.