MSP User Spotlight: St. Ann Parish

Standing as the largest parish in Texas with 30,000 parishioners, volunteer schedulers at St. Ann Parish in Coppell, Texas have their work cut out for them. For years, the schedulers who oversaw the 200-250 volunteers required for the 7 weekend masses got by with spreadsheets, phone calls, and ad-hoc organization methods that left some masses sparse with volunteers. When Tom Samson was asked to organize the Greeter ministry, he knew he had to find a software solution.

Immediately, Tom began asking ministry leaders in other parishes what they used for their scheduling. He met a woman who shared that she valued Ministry Scheduler Pro (MSP) so much that she only accepted her job at her parish on the condition that she could use it. She also mentioned that MSP offered a 30-day free trial. In Tom’s own words, “The price was right, so I decided to give it a try.”

Right away, Tom saw the power behind MSP and decided it was the tool he would use for scheduling Greeters. He knew that other ministry leaders would likely want the same benefits, so reached out to his fellow parish ministry schedulers.

He soon connected with the Altar Server scheduler, and learned that they were in a distressing situation due to a large number of no shows. The problem had come to a tipping point when, during Christmas, there had been two masses where no scheduled Altar Servers showed up. After that, the scheduler resigned his position, and the new Altar Server scheduler connected with Tom to ask for help.

Tom and the new scheduler used the spreadsheets that the previous scheduler had used for scheduling and imported all of the volunteer email addresses into MSP. Next, they sent out an introductory email explaining that they would now be using MSP to schedule Altar Servers. “We quickly found that out of the 150 Altar Servers being scheduled, there were really only about 100 who were active.” With this vital information, the Altar Server scheduler recruited new volunteers to fill the open spots. “We took it from a 30-40 percent no-show rate to a virtually 0 percent no-show rate within about 30 days.” Now, the ministry would no longer have to rely on last-minute volunteers taken from the pews as they had done before.

With such success, other ministries wanted to get started with MSP as well. The flexibility MSP gave smaller ministries was key to its success at St. Ann. For example, in Children’s Liturgy of the Word, schedules are created manually before other ministry schedules are drafted, which ensures volunteers are scheduled for Children’s Liturgy before other ministries.

St. Ann ministry schedulers quickly saw that MSP gave them new ways to fix old problems. For example, they use the MSP enrollment form as a first step in onboarding new volunteers. Potential volunteers sign up for “Candidate” positions. This gets volunteers’ information, such as their name and preferred ministry times, into MSP, and alerts the ministry leader that someone is interested in serving. “When someone comes in as a candidate, that gives us a way to keep track of the process. We communicate with them through MSP. Before, we had no way to know who was new and who wasn’t new. There was no way to track them.”

Tom also shared that, before MSP, each ministry functioned as “an island unto itself.” He explained saying, “Our ushers had teams where they would rotate. They had worked out their own way of doing that, but it wasn’t uniform across all masses.” But MSP changed that. “When you implement MSP, you began to create a culture where you have a commonality of processes. That’s one of the real benefits. You began to create a culture in which people can serve across multiple ministries and masses. It makes it much easier to engage your volunteers.”

With the flexibility and power of MSP, the volunteers and ministry schedulers at St. Ann enjoy a streamlined process of onboarding, communicating, and scheduling, which results in fewer no-shows, common processes, and less frustration. With less time spent scheduling, ministry leaders can spend more time ensuring that the people of Coppell have a thriving community of faith.

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