Deacon Joe Kest
St. Patrick of Heatherdowns
Max: Why did you originally seek out a ministry scheduling program?
Deacon Kest: I was looking for something to schedule the altar servers because I was doing the scheduling by hand. The liturgy director was struggling with scheduling also, and after looking at MSP, I got to thinking that we could use it to schedule all the liturgical ministries.
Max: What do you use MSP for most often?
Deacon Kest: Allowing ministers to find subs online. It just amazes me that it happens so smoothly, without me having to get involved, and the lightening speed of the whole thing.
Max: What are the greatest benefits MSP brings to your parish?
Deacon Kest: Well, first of all, the scheduler portion is so easy to use. With over 400 ministers, if I did it manually I'd be at it for a week or more. Another big benefit is how MSP facilitates ministers getting involved. Being able to keep families together and avoiding scheduling people twice in a weekend is conducive to people getting involved in ministry. The ability for ministers to find subs online without any intervention on my behalf saves me hours of work and has made it easier for ministers to commit to serving. All of MSP's tools, not only to generate, but to maintain the schedules are a big benefit.
Max: How do you use MSP's Emailer and what do you use it for most often?
Deacon Kest: I mostly use it for reminders. Every week, usually Wednesday, I send out reminders for the coming weekend. I also use it to tell ministers to login to the Web Terminal to update their availability for the next scheduling period.
Max: What has been your volunteers' reaction to the email reminders?
Deacon Kest: Reminders are wonderful. I've heard more comments saying, "Gee, that's the greatest thing, that email reminder." Or "Thanks for sending me that reminder because I forgot I was supposed to be scheduled this weekend." And it's funny because as soon as you send out those reminders, you see a couple sub request come flying in. The reminders have been very well received.
Max: How did you get your ministers accustomed to going online to view and update their schedule?
Deacon Kest: Basically, I just sent out an email describing MSP and how we would be using it from now on to update service preferences and look for subs. People adjusted with no problem at all.
Max: How has the Web Terminal affected the way you handle scheduling?
Deacon Kest: The major thing is the ministers can go online and input when they're not available themselves. This really saves me time. Our last schedule was the first one using the Web Terminal. I had nothing to do! Normally it would have taken 2 or 3 days for me to have to put all of that information in.
Max: What feedback have you received from the ministers regarding the Web Terminal?
Deacon Kest: Oh, they love it. I've gotten nothing but positive feedback. Everyone who uses it thinks it's great – that it's easy to use. A few people didn't understand how to click on tabs but it was easy to explain. It was all simple stuff that we could get resolved quickly.
Max: What do you see as the biggest obstacle stopping people from participating in ministry?
Deacon Kest: Some people have to work weekends or are unavailable. Maybe fear of being up in front of people makes some people uncomfortable. Certainly I can't say it's the way we do scheduling. MSP has facilitated participating in ministry. It has been very positive in that respect. When I'm training new ministers I'm always pushing that it's very easy to get subs and replacements with this new system we have.
Max: What are the benefits of participating in the liturgical ministries?
Deacon Kest: The biggest benefit is the way people grow in their faith – the closeness to God, and Jesus, and to the community. It gives them a sense of ownership in the parish when they're participating and serving. A lot of times you'll see a big increase in their spiritual life when someone is actively involved rather than just sitting in the pew. It gives them a chance to use their gifts and talents they have in service. So it's a real spiritual growth for a lot of people.
Max: What is the best way to get people involved in the liturgical ministries?
Deacon Kest: I guess I found, Max, that the best way of getting people more involved is to personally ask them -- not just to put an announcement in the bulletin, not just to send an email, but to actually go out and say, "Why aren't you distributing the Eucharist?" or "Why aren't you Lectoring? You've got a voice to proclaim." Many people thank me for asking. They say, "Ministering is such a great joy, I'm so thankful that you asked me to do this."
Max: Well thanks for participating in this case study Joe. You've been using MSP for years and I can't tell you how valuable all your feedback has been to us in improving the program.
Deacon Kest: Well I can tell you, Max, I am a great MSP supporter out here in Ohio. It's just so great right now. I can't say enough about it. It's got everything you really need for effective scheduling, and to maintain the schedule. I wish I could get it to every parish out here. The more people who use it, the better off they'll be. They stand to benefit greatly once they see it and start using it.