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Villanova Center For Church Management Equips Parish Leaders

Villanova Center For Church Management Equips Parish Leaders

Villanova University took a visionary step in 2004 when the school established the Center for Church Management. It was the first center of its kind and remains a leading educational resource for church leaders to learn about administrative and management functions for churches. Chuck Zech, Ph.D. professor emeritus, led the center to excellence and became a much sought-after expert on giving and stewardship through his research and his desire to help church leaders understand management practices.

 “Church is not a business, and yet we are called to build the kingdom using all of our capabilities.”

-Villanova Center for Church Management

Matt Manion stepped into the role of Faculty Director of the center in 2017. He became Professor and Faculty Director shortly after. After stewarding the Catholic Leadership Institute for 18 years, Matt brought a wide breadth of experience with church leaders and what resources they need. Today the center serves Christian churches across the United States and internationally through “education programs and scholarly insight contextualized for congregational leaders, addressing the areas of administration, professional financial management, human resource management, and more.”  The center offers a Masters and a non-degree program in church management.

When asking Matt about the center, you see the sparkle in his eye when he answers. “Even though the church is not a business, weren’t the apostles mostly small business people?  They were fishermen, net makers, and carpenters. They brought the skills of business with them…”  

The curriculum covers an array of management topics, including leadership in religious organizations. Civil and church laws, financial oversight, and human resource management in a ministry setting. 

Fr. Ryan Cubera, pastor of Our Lady of the Falls in Olmstead Falls, OH, entered the program to learn about business practices. “I was the parish administrator and had the opportunity to become pastor,’ he said. “I wanted to be more effective in the management of the church, in addition to my pastoral and sacramental role.”

When Dr. Lois Locey, Chancellor for Administration, Diocese of St. Petersburg and Adjunct Professor at the Center for Church Management, suggested adding a topic about MissionInsite to help dioceses and parishes understand more about the demographics, interests, and life concerns of parishioners and the surrounding community. Matt understood how incredibly valuable this information is for the church.  “It’s a gift to the church to be able to see this information and understand her people,” Matt said. The center has added MissionInsite as a segment of three different courses in the curriculum for church management.

Stewardship in Action

“Do not be deceived…all good living and every perfect gift is from above.” James 1:16-17

Since its inception, the Villanova Center for Church Management has been an outstanding example of stewardship for Church leaders. Our pastors, business managers, financial and human resource managers bring their unique gifts to our church, which they use and return with increase to help all of us experience our faith through our parishes. The center offers education in these functional areas, plus research that provides insights into trends in the church. Thousands of church leaders have benefited from the onsite and remote courses. ACST is working with the center to align software, data, and technology to accompany our dioceses and parishes in supporting missionary discipleship, stewardship, and evangelization. 

To be good stewards requires us to be the best we can be. In the words of St. Catherine of Siena: “be who God intended you to be, and you will set the world on fire!” By preparing our leaders to lead and manage effectively, the Center for Church management enables us to spend more time creating opportunities for everyone to encounter Christ.

For more information on what’s happening for Catholic parishes and dioceses, please visit

Terry Poplava is a multi-disciplined executive with extensive sales, product marketing, strategy and leadership experience in supporting faith organizations. Terry’s professional experience includes organizational leadership, corporate development and growth, consulting with and training church leaders, and leading strategic and priority planning for churches and dioceses. He currently serves on the advisory board for the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche in St. Augustine FL, as cantor at St. Andrew parish in Myrtle Beach, SC. and recently as Chairman of the Finance Council at St. Mary the Virgin Mother parish in Hartsville, SC.

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