New institute focuses on developing servant leaders

Dan Ebener holds the book he wrote that offers the framework for an upcoming institute on developing servant leaders in parishes. He is stewardship director for the Davenport Diocese.

By Barb Arland-Fye

Diocesan Stewardship Director Dan Ebener’s new book “Servant Leadership Models for Your Parish” provides the framework for an institute focused on developing servant leaders in parishes.

“Servant Leadership Institute” opens Aug. 17 at St. Thomas More Parish in Coralville. Eight sessions will follow, held over a 16-week period in the geographical area of the participants.

The idea for the institute came out of a discussion Ebener had with Bishop Martin Amos about utilizing the Servant Leadership book in parishes throughout the diocese. The bishop thought it would be great for parishioners to be able to read the book a chapter at a time and discuss it together.

Ebener took that idea to the Diocesan Stewardship Commission, which then created a program that borrows from the template for its Stewardship Institute. That institute’s teaching method, coaching and process have been adapted to the Servant Leadership Institute, said Ebener, who facilitates both institutes.


But while the Stewardship Institute focuses on participants growing in appreciation of God’s gifts and sharing them abundantly, the Servant Leadership Institute seeks to develop parish servant leaders within the diocese. “I believe the practice of servant leadership enhances the practice of stewardship in a parish,” Ebener said.

All participants and coaches are expected to attend the opening day event scheduled from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at St. Thomas More. That event includes reflections on Scripture, an explanation of the practical logistics of the institute and an introduction to servant leadership. Participants will also meet and interact with their coaches and other participants. Participants and coaches clustered in certain geographic areas may schedule times to get together on a parish or regional basis during the institute. 

The first of the eight sessions will begin Aug 23. Eight Scriptural passages have been selected to guide the participants’ reflections on servant leadership throughout the institute. Every two weeks, participants will send their reflections on one of these passages to their coach. Eight sections of the Servant Leadership book have been selected to guide the process of reflecting and learning about servant leadership.

Midway through the institute, a face-to-face gathering will be held at a location central to the participants. The 16-week session will end Dec 13. At the institute’s conclusion, participants and coaches will submit an evaluation. The four coaches are Msgr. Marvin Mottet, Sister Laura Goedken, OP, Kathy DeMong and Bob Squires.

A concluding workshop, to be held in January, will include presentations by some of the participants about what they have learned. Graduates will receive certificates of graduation.

The program is targeted toward parish leaders or those who aspire to parish leadership anywhere in the diocese, Ebener said. “We hope to inspire servant leadership as a practice among those who participate in the institute and those who read the book. That’s the goal of the book: to inspire people to practice servant leadership.”

The only cost of the Servant Leadership Institute is $25. To register, send an e-mail to

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