What I Did This Summer - Nicole Perone, MDiv '16

YDS students do a number of interesting things over the summer.  Over the course of the next few weeks, you’ll hear about some of what our amazing students have been up to.  Today’s entry comes from Nicole Perone, MDiv. '16, who brings an enormous amount to our community and is a stalwart student worker at the Admissions Office.  Thanks Nicole!

Nicole & Bishop

“Would you mind if we took a picture together?”

“Yea, let’s! How about a selfie?”

I wouldn’t say it’s a common occurrence for the president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to offer to take a selfie with me… and yet, this summer, I found myself snapping a few with Archbishop Kurtz of Louisville, he who effectively oversees the American Catholic Church.  In the days that followed, a retired three-star general who led operations around the globe offered me insight on being an “Army girlfriend” to my Army chaplain candidate boyfriend; a Fortune 500 CEO taught me the art of defending one’s place on a board of trustees; and a Cardinal who advises Pope Francis inquired about my career aspirations. My days at the Leadership Roundtable annual meeting were full of once-in-a-lifetime experiences that affirmed my vocation to Church administration and leadership.  

The National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management is “an organization of laity, religious, and clergy working together to promote excellence and best practices in the management, finances, and human resource development of the US Catholic Church through the greater incorporation of the expertise of the laity.”  Executive director Kerry Robinson (MAR ’91) happens to be my mentor and fellow parishioner at St. Thomas More Catholic Center at Yale.  The Yale world, I find, is small – but in the best way possible.  Because of her work mentoring me in my vocational discernment process, she invited me to attend the Roundtable’s annual meeting in Chicago, which I gleefully accepted. 

The entire conference was a whirlwind of “is this really happening??” moments for a Catholic girl from suburban New Jersey suddenly running with the proverbial big dogs.  I was able to get an inside look at a gathering of the best and brightest of American Catholicism today, soaking in how they are critically examining managerial flaws in the Church and how to solve those problems.  Their focus on engaging laypeople with secular expertise to rebuild the Church not only affirmed the value that I bring, but inspired me in my vocation to work for the Church I love.  Every director, president, and executive I met expressed enthusiasm in seeing a young face at the annual meeting, thrilled at the prospect of the future and current Church (the young!) caring deeply about making it better. 

My trip to the Leadership Roundtable’s annual meeting, and the networking and affirmation I experienced therein, are completely credited to the strength of the St. Thomas More and YDS communities.  The wealth of opportunities which my YDS degree has afforded me has already begun to blossom – they just don’t happen in quite the same way anywhere else.