Students of Loyola Marymount University’s parish business administration program marked the completion of their classes by attending a May 17 Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

Archbishop José Gomez made special mention of their accomplishments and thanked the 24 graduates for their work.

Susan Bugelli, one of the graduating students, said she first heard about the yearlong program while reading The Tidings.

“I thought I would further my education by joining the class,” she said in an interview.

Begulli has already worked more than seven years as an assistant in business administration for Holy Name of Mary Parish in San Dimas. Having taken a two-year break, she plans to resume working for the church.

She says working for the Church is more rewarding than working a regular job.

“Once you’re not in something, you realize all the things that you are missing,” she says. “I just really enjoyed the community and the spiritual nature of the job. You’re just a part of so much when you work for a parish.”  

The program has a unique partnership with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, says Pat Joyce, one of the instructors of the class.

“A typical class has someone from the archdiocese come and present for a portion of the class. And we talk about real world application after that presentation.”

The class offers specialized training for those working in or planning to work in pastoral ministry. Students learn how to practically apply both civil and canon law to their business administrative duties, while gaining an understanding of parish administration, organizational awareness and ethical considerations.

The classes are held every other Saturday throughout the year for a total of 16 sessions. Each class lasts eight hours.

Begulli is grateful that LMU offers the program.

“I enjoyed the fact that it’s open to anybody so you don’t have to necessarily work for a parish, because I didn’t work for a parish when I joined the group.”

She adds that she felt at home in the classes because she worked with fellow students who shared her views and goals.

“When you go to class you can talk about anything freely because you know we are all on the same page. And you don’t have to hold back.”

Class discussions allowed for a varied perspective of church ministry and other concerns, which she found informative — and fascinating.

“When you go to Mass you have no idea all the inner workings that go on to create that Mass.”

She was surprised at the amount of work involved.

“You have someone who is in charge of the liturgy, how the church is going to be decorated, what the worship aids are going to be, who’s serving [Mass], and what the parish goals are going to be.”

Joyce acknowledges that his students have a unique and important role to fill. But he is confident that lay members can share the burden of Church administration so that priests are able to focus on pastoral issues.

“After the students have taken the program they’re ready to serve in the parish.”