Ministry Leadership Program (MLP)

MLP SquareThe Ministry Leadership Program (MLP) is grounded in the wisdom of the Catholic tradition and is a fully integrated experience.

It links professional expertise with contemporary business and organisational best practice and provides a unique formation context for existing and emerging leaders.

The program is modelled on the highly successful leadership formation program developed by the US-based Ministry Leadership Centre (MLC). With twelve years’ experience and the learnings from ongoing review and revision, their work is gaining recognition within the wider US Church and being translated to other ministries.


About the MLP – formators and participants share their experience

MLP is a formation program for executive leaders to enable them to better understand, integrate and live out the distinctive mission, identity and ethos of Catholic health and aged care. In these videos participants, presenters and members of the Formation Team share their experience and express the value of the program personally and professionally.


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The Ministry Leadership Program is a comprehensive, focused and deep adult learning experience addressing leadership of a Catholic ministry.

It recognises and complements existing approaches to the formation and development of leaders including academic courses such as theology, canon law and ethics, and formation in an individual organisation's founding charism.

The program's pedagogy enhances what is currently available in Australia as it focuses on the formation of the leader as a whole person within their practical day-to-day work context. The program:


  • Relies on an invitational approach that respects the diverse backgrounds and affiliations of all participants to create an experience that fosters a personal sense of belonging.
  • Recognises the established expertise and wisdom of the participants in their diverse professional fields, to foster a community of practice based on the participants as experts and the presenter team as a resource to their continuing learning.
  • Facilitates the opportunity for organisational transformation in parallel with personal transformation.
  • Enables participants to tap into their own personal sense of spirituality and relate it to the organisation’s mission and their role as a leader.
  • Includes pathways for continuing connection for alumni which will flow through into enhanced collaboration between participating Catholic ministries.




The model offers a range of carefully designed features which complement other formation-type programs that have a specifically academic approach. These features include a targeted approach to achieve:


Personal alignment, commitment and capacity.
The primary goal of the program is to foster personal alignment with, and commitment and capacity to support and nurture Catholic values and ethos, by strengthening a leader’s articulation and integration of core vision and principles into the life and mission of their organisation. This capacity gradually develops over the course of the program.

Personal alignment, commitment and capacity.
The primary goal of the program is to foster personal alignment with, and commitment and capacity to support and nurture Catholic values and ethos, by strengthening a leader’s articulation and integration of core vision and principles into the life and mission of their organisation. This capacity gradually develops over the course of the program.

Theological reflection.
Each session helps leaders reflect on the values and concerns of the Catholic tradition and to make relevant connections with their lived experience of the challenges and responsibilities of executive leadership in the context of contemporary culture.

Practical integration.
While academic material is included, the program is specifically designed through a range of processes, including Action Feedback, to equip participants with the capacity to directly apply acquired knowledge to the issues, concerns and challenges experienced in their role as a leader.

Fostering spiritual practice(s).
This is an important element of each face-to-face session and between-session work. At each session different spiritual practices from the Catholic tradition are explained and introduced in an invitational, non-coercive manner and follow up practice is encouraged.




The program is designed to be a living link between the teachings of the Catholic tradition and the contemporary culture in continual development.


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The program consists of nine offsite intensives held over a two-year period. Through a dynamic process conducted by a team of expert presenters and formation facilitators, session content is assimilated through participant/group interaction, individual reflection and supportive networking within the wider cohort.


The program is carefully calibrated to support practical integration of learning between sessions so new insights and practices are quickly assimilated by the leader, and learnings are transferred within their organisation for maximum impact. These learnings are brought back to each program session to inform and guide the experience of the whole cohort.




The MLP learning platform connects face-to-face learning with online interactions to create a dynamic integrated experience. The website facilitates between session interaction around Action Feedback, follow-up reading, reflections and other resources.



Action feedback is as critical as face-to-face sessions and central to the integration process. A project for the participant’s work environment is planned during the intensive, shared in an on-line virtual community between sessions, and reported at the next intensive. Projects are available to the whole cohort in a library on the website and Action Feedback outcomes contribute to program evaluation.



The dialogue partner is a trusted person chosen by each participant with whom to debrief, and further explore the meaning and relevance of session content in order to begin their own articulation, and discuss implementation goals and challenges.


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The MLP formation experience is an adult learning model using the Formation Triangle. The Triangle draws on three sources of insight: the Catholic Tradition, cultural information, and individual and communal experience.

Each of the ‘core concerns’ (below) relevant to a Catholic ministry is situated within the Triangle and explored in terms of these three critical perspectives. The Catholic Tradition sets the agenda; cultural information informs the agenda; individual and shared experience evaluates the agenda.


The program is structured around the foundational concerns of the Catholic tradition expressed in health, aged care and social services: vocation, heritage, spirituality, response to suffering, whole person care, values integration, catholic social teaching and care for the poor, ethics, discernment and decision-making and collaboration with Church.


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The Program Team consists of expert presenters and a formation facilitation team.

Expert presenters deliver the program content to deepen participants' understanding of the foundational concerns of the Catholic tradition and how they are relevant to leading Catholic health, aged care and social service organisations today. The presenters are drawn from Australia's leading experts in fields such as ethics, Catholic theology and Catholic Social Teaching, and organisational leadership.

The formation facilitation team has expertise in group facilitation of leaders as well as on-the-ground knowledge of what it is like to lead others in the complex health, social services and aged care environments. This is supported by the team's strong theological experience and understanding.


The Country Place on the outskirts of Melbourne offers a beautiful retreat-like setting. The quiet, leafy environment is sure to provide the opportunity to unwind and re-connect so needed by those busy executives in attendance.


The Ministry Leadership Program offers executive leaders of Catholic ministries a deep, comprehensive and fully-integrated learning experience grounded in the wisdom of the Catholic tradition. For more information about the Ministry Leadership Program, please contact the Program Director, Susan Sullivan.


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