New GM of diocese faces challenge of growth

by ROWENA OREJANA
Shifting the demographics and growing the number of faithful Catholics in Dunedin will be the main focus of new diocesan general manager, Gerald
Scanlan.

Gerald Scanlan

“I think the main challenge really is the challenge for growth. In a way, that is always the challenge for Church, isn’t it, how to spread the Kingdom of God and invite people into a relationship with the Lord,” he said. “So, if we can grow, then concerns about maintaining the Church and keeping an effective
presence will disappear.”
Mr Scanlan was originally from Dunedin and educated there. His appointment as
general manager was like a homecoming for him. “I’ve got sort of a family connection here which is very important, a sense of having a stake in the
diocese and a commitment to its wellbeing,” he said.
More importantly, he said, is his faith-commitment. “[I have a] . . . long background in Church in a variety of roles, both paid and voluntary,”
he said.
Mr Scanlan was chairman of the National Catholic Enquiry Centre Board and
on the Board of Trustees for St Patrick’s College, Silverstream.
Mr Scanlan worked mostly in the private sector and recently had his own leadership development and organisational change business.
“I’ve got a strong focus on people and talent, on harnessing the potential of people. I bring that perspective particularly to my work. Plus, I’ve had
a lot of exposure to various issues around poverty, schools and financial administration within the Church through other roles,” he said.
Mr Scanlan, who was only a few weeks into the job at the time of interview, said
he would spend the first few months listening to people in the organisation and finding out how things work.
He also hopes to come up with a business plan with the board and Bishop Colin Campbell for next year. The plan will outline the priorities of the diocese, as well as serve as indicator of progress and development.
He added that because of the time gap between his predecessor’s departure and his appointment, there has been “a sort of hiatus” in the diocese.
“My first few months are really about trying to work to unlock things that had been locked up, unstick things that had been a bit stuck,” he said.
He expects to get some momentum going into next year.
Mr Scanlan said he was struck by the warmth of the welcome given him by the
diocese.
“It’s been quite humbling and I’m very grateful for it. The people have been very welcoming to me and my wife. I feel like people really want us to be here and appreciate what I can bring, and that is a really good platform to
work from,” he said.

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