Dr. William (Bill) Dant of WPD Global Solutions and Tatyana Fertelmeyster of Connecting Differences Consulting will present a session titled Little Church on the Prairie: The Training of International Priests Serving in Roman Catholic Parishes in the Rural U.S.A. at the SIETAR-USA conference in Arlington, VA on Thursday, November 7th, 3:45-5:00 pm.
In 2012 almost one out of every five priests serving as parish clergy in the USA came from abroad. The majority of these priests are from developing countries across Asia, Africa and Latin America. Despite the acknowledged universality of the Roman Catholic Church’s liturgy around the world, the cultural and interpersonal contexts of these priests back home are often drastically different from those of a US-born priest practicing in parish service in his own culture.
Our presentation shares and engages with participants on a work in progress: in 2012 the Lilly Endowment provided a grant to the Seminary of St. Meinrad in Indiana to develop intercultural and linguistic training materials for Roman Catholic priests, and to pilot them in five different rural areas across the United States. As consultants to this project — as the principal curriculum developer (Tatyana Fertelmeyster) and training facilitator (Bill Dant) — we wanted to share with our colleagues the experiences and challenges we faced in working with this “niche” population and set of intercultural challenges.
Several of the Cultural Detective packages (CD: Self-Discovery and CD-USA as core design elements, as well as CD packages for specific countries/regions represented by the priests: India, Philippines, Poland, West Africa, etc.) have been used in the program design, and Cultural Detective Online is employed as a way to engage diverse participants in building bridges between their own cultural perspectives and those they experience in the US-American culture.