By Jack Kearns, Director of the Diocesan Office of Communications

The Center for Church Management of Villanova University’s School of Business has offered programs for some years to help Church leaders improve business and management skills. Now, the availability of online learning and, in the case of one program, a partnership between the Fall River Diocese and the Center, are helping to bring these opportunities for professional development within the reach of more members of the diocese.

The Center for Church Management partners with the Fall River Diocese to offer an innovative two-year online Master of Science in Church Management (MSCM) degree designed to provide students with skills in effective Church management and leadership. To support participation, five scholarships of $14,700 — or 50 percent of the tuition — are available this year for qualified persons working in a parish or ministry of the diocese who are interested in pursuing the degree. The scholarships are funded by Villanova and benefactors of its Center for Church Management.

The remaining tuition — $14,700 or $490 per credit — is distributed across the two-year program according to the amount of credits taken per semester.

The MSCM program is created to meet the needs of a diverse group of Church leaders and managers including pastors and pastoral associates, parish business managers, and directors of diocesan departments and ministries. It is structured to enable Church professionals to pursue graduate study while continuing to work full-time.

Diocesan Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer Kevin R. Kiley is a May 2019 graduate of the MSCM program and describes it as an “epiphany” to him, leading to greater insight and understanding.

“I finished up my studies having gained an even better perspective and awareness of all aspects of the operations and ‘business-side’ of the Church [at the local level], and this has served me well in my dealings with clergy, parish business managers and leaders of other ministries and non-profits,” he said.

Each MSCM student is exposed to the study of management and its applications within the context of Church leadership. The degree is designed to be practical with courses covering areas such as civil and Church law, financial reporting and controls, human resource management in a ministry setting, and more.

Kiley advises those with an interest in working in Church administration to “strongly consider” the program.

“It provides the knowledge, skills and abilities that effective Church leaders need these days,” he said. “Clergy can also benefit from the program, enabling more effective governance of parishes.”

Villanova is offering an informational webinar on the MSCM program on Thursday, April 8, at 12 noon. To register, contact Chesley Turner at the school at

Another pathway for developing skills and learning best practices in Church management is through the Center’s online non-degree certificate program. Twelve live, interactive webinars provide a high-level overview of Church management elements. Topics range from budgeting and legal issues to pastoral planning and website design. Participants who complete the series and the required coursework that follow each session earn a Certificate in Church Management from the Villanova School of Business.

“The Church is such a unique organization that it’s great to have a certificate program like Villanova’s that focuses on Church management,” said diocesan Director of Finance Joseph Harrington, who is currently participating in the program. “People often say that you can’t run the Church like a business — and that is true — but we are called to be good stewards of the funds provided us, and there is a lengthy Scriptural basis for effective administration.”

This program is designed for clergy and lay leaders who are in pastoral or administrative roles and who are interested in gaining knowledge about strategic, managerial, and financial aspects of the Church.

Harrington is about half-way through the certificate program and shared that he has “already used some of the concepts from the class on Church culture and administration. “I would recommend the course for others interested in Church management. It is relatively affordable, and the content is easy to access.”

Diocesan Strategic and Pastoral Planning Director Laura Carrillo is also enrolled in the program and agrees that it has been beneficial to her work.

“The certificate program at Villanova has been extremely helpful in learning more about Church operations and the intricacies involved in running parishes,” she said. “The staff and students provide a great network for us to reach out to with questions or simply to brainstorm.”

Of the topics covered thus far, most interesting for her has been the webinar on Spirituality and administration.

“It reminded me that every piece of work conducted presents an opportunity to encounter God,” she explained.

Registration for the certificate program’s 2021 fall series will open in August of this year. Scholarships are available for a limited time for qualified persons through the Lily Endowment, Inc. For information, contact Chesley Turner at the school at

Chancellor Kiley pointed out, “With many boomers retiring, there will be a great need for the next generation of Church leaders to fill their shoes. The Villanova Center for Church Management’s master’s degree and certificate programs will provide a solid foundation to embark on such a career.