Spotlight on: Daniel Hill
This Easter, we cast our spotlight on Daniel Hill, Director of Evangelisation and Parish Renewal, and the Director of University Projects. Being across many facets of the Church, parishes and working with other organisations at any one time is already a challenge in itself. Daniel tells us how he manages this, and gives us an insight into the Church’s active role in many communities.
What do you do?
I am the Director of Evangelisation and Parish Renewal, and also the Director of University Projects. The Evangelisation and Parish renewal team looks after the Sydney Catholic Youth Office, the Mustard Seed Bookshop and the Life, Family and Outreach unit.
These teams work on large initiatives like World Youth Days and activist campaigns, upholding of the dignity of human life from conception to death, and the Walk with Christ Eucharistic procession. The rest of that time is spent on programs and projects that are ongoing such as youth camps, retreats, Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) training, parish renewal conferences, and continuing/adult education.
My University Projects role is focused on building infrastructure and connection between our Catholic tertiary organisations. A primary focus is to work with secular universities in building support for Catholic centres (such as the new 6 million dollar facility at Sydney University). I also work to bring intellectuals together and run a public lecture series called Scholarship at the Cathedral.
Describe an average day
In this kind of role there is difficulty in describing an average day. But there is an average week. With so many different projects and programs, the role is very much a collegiate one – working with the different teams under my management, with my superiors, colleagues in other areas of the Archdiocese and with other organisations. This really means lots of meetings and events for me and my colleagues.
What is a great day?
A great day is one where meetings are quick and efficient, where teams are taking proactive steps and feel like they are on top of things, and where we get feedback that our work is having an effect in people lives. I’m a creative type, so I love to see new ideas or ways of doing things.
What is a challenging day?
The Archdiocese is a very complex organism (even Byzantine sometimes!) and a bad day is when communication isn’t at its best. That said, with experience you can learn how to navigate things pretty quickly if necessary. Another bad day is when well laid plans don’t work, which is inevitable but can be disappointing. Another challenge is too many meetings, so it’s important to be efficient and strategic.
Why did you choose this kind of work?
As a young person I was highly involved in Surf Life Saving, and at university, with student groups. So in many ways that involvement was the beginning of my “training.” I’m passionate about sharing the good news of Christ and his Church, and also working in non-for-profit organisations to build them up. There is a lot of strategy and creativity involved, so it’s a wonderful line of work to fulfill that desire.
What advice would you give to others interested in this line of work?
The beginning of this kind of work is volunteering on the grass roots level. There is no way to be effective without having that as the foundation of your experience, as it helps you understand how to work with and for, people. Furthermore, having a degree that is broad (I am technically an historian) equips you to be flexible in your thinking and way of managing.
What kinds of skills or talent does someone need for this job?
Patience is important, as the Church is an old, slow but wise beast. It is not driven by profit-margins, so it can be slow to get moving sometimes. The ability to be efficient and strategic, present ideas well and lead people is key. Project management is also helpful, and the ability to chair meetings.
What is something that only those in your industry would know?
The Catholic Church is not one big monolithic corporation, but an ancient community of different entities united spiritually under a Bishop (which is united to the Bishop of Rome). Even in the Archdiocese there are many entities that are Catholic but “independent.” I feel this nuance isn’t widely understood.
What role does faith play in your work?
You can’t do my kind of role effectively without having deep faith. I believe I have one, but really that is for God to judge. One can get worried that you need to be a saint when working for the Church, but good spiritual directors remind me that if that was the case there would be few employees! In other words, faith allows me to acknowledge my many failings without fear.
What does Easter mean to you?
Easter is the ultimate moment of the year and an amazing reminder of where we came from and where we are going. During the Easter vigil, the history of salvation is sung, the light rises and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is offered. It is like the whole of time and space is one, and we spiritually participate in eternity. For me it’s a foretaste of heaven! It’s also good to indulge in a bit of old school feasting.