Jana Šilerová: "My superior is the
Written by: Monika Mudranincová
Photo: Petr Poliak
The bishop of the Olomouc diocese of the Czechoslovak
Hussite Church is a capable spiritual leader, teacher, psychologist,
and manager. She relies on collegial, kindly management, and
sees personal example as the best motivation.
Few people can imagine what a bishop does. What's your job description?
I'm responsible for the spiritual and material management of our
church's Olomouc diocese, roughly covering the former North Moravian
region. I'm in charge of 51 congregations and 48 priests, deacons,
preachers, and pastoral assistants. My bishop's duties include
ordaining new priests, confirmations, pastoral care of parish
priests and other believers, as well as theological conferences
and preaching courses and supervision of the spiritual work of
priests and the ordinary course of church administration. A council
of priests and laypersons helps me. I've also kept my parish
in Rychvald, Silesia.
What's your work day like?
The priesthood is a "free-lance job" with no set work
hours. My day? Take yesterday: After my night-time return from
the Czech Television Council in Prague to Ostrava, in the morning
I taught school children, in the afternoon I conducted a funeral,
and towards evening I brought the Lord's Supper sacrament to ill
people. Late in the evening I prepared my lecture on the media
as a new religion. I read Kempenský and prayed before retiring.
Early in the morning I drove from Ostrava to the bishopric in Olomouc.
Please describe your church's hierarchy. In lay language, who
is your superior and who reports to you?
How would you contrast management within the church and corporate
management in a firm like Škoda, for instance?
The church is God's work and a human institution as well. In lay
terms, the church's Central Council reports to me. Its members
are bishops and church laics. In full earnestness I respond that
the Lord is the superior of myself and the whole church. This metaphysical
point of view also determines the management method.
We must uphold not only state laws, but also church regulations.
Every parish priest and the council of elders in his parish are
responsible for these. I always remind them that if they don't
perform their priesthood duties honestly, they aren't cheating
me or the diocese council, but rather the Lord God. I know that
a collegial, patient, and kindly approach to colleagues wouldn't
always necessarily pay off for corporate managers. But I see
my parish priests as independent, spiritually honest priests.
I've known many of them for 30 years. Do you think they could
What are the requirements for an aspiring priest?
A future priest must study theology, have a strong calling - a
call from above, from the God of Mercy - and be morally qualified.
I propose candidates who are then approved by the diocesan council,
and I ordain them. In his priestly, pastoral, and teaching work
a proper priest, works on his spirituality, studies, and prays.
Additionally, creative doubts push him ahead, and experiences
in life deepen his humanity, and he matures towards less concern
for himself, instead helping solve the problems of other souls
with love. Loving his flock is paramount for a priest.
How do you assert your intentions with subordinates?
I definitely don't issue orders. Instead I ask staff to do things.
I think being authoritative doesn't ensure authority. Also, our
church is democratically structured by typology, from the bottom
up, not hierarchically, like a pyramid. As Jesus said, the first
should serve all...
How would you describe an ideal leader?
An image of the ideal leader will always be subjective, because
everyone imagines his boss differently. In the church a leader
should be wise, open, kind, self-critical, a true professional.
What do you most often use to motivate your colleagues?
I use my work ethic and boundless optimism with faith to do what
I can do, and what I can't do I leave up to the Lord.
In corporations pay provides great motivation, but in the church
wages are low. Do you notice priests leaving for civilian jobs
because of the pay?
People don't decide on the priesthood because of money or career.
If a priest discovered this later and went into civilian life,
I wouldn't hold it against him. But such a person would carry his
loss of apostleship and departure from priestly service as a failure
until he died.
Another motivating factor is career advancement. But on your web
site the bishop of Bratislava complains that many priests are subject
to excessive rivalry in their desire to rise, to be well known
and successful, which he sees as a bad thing. What's your opinion?
||graduated from gymnasium
from the Hus Seminary
||ordained as a priest
on 12 October
as a priest in the parish of Vratimov
||served as a priest
in Kunčice pod Ondřejníkem and Frenštát
||serves as a
priest in Rychvald and Bohumín
||ascended to bishopric in Olomouc
for seven years
Sometimes rivalry is attributed to the "successful and well
known" out of envy. Generally, rivalry in the church is tragicomic.
How far can you rise in the church? Christ himself rose to the
cross...and we Christians don't much strive for that. Rivalry is
alien to anyone who really cares about God.
Do you sometimes go through situations of conflict with your colleagues,
and how do you resolve them?
A quiet voice and patient trust that time and God will help both
sides. I'd like to point out that patience is derived from the
word to suffer.
Do you have a favorite tactic for leading people well?
I'm certainly not assertive - assertiveness is a superficial, purposeful,
and hypocritical mechanism. I try to be patient as an ordinary
What's the hardest part of your work?
Sometimes it's the rivalry among male colleagues - but I take it
with a bit of humor. Office work connected with my service as
a bishop is the least pleasant aspect for me. It's certainly
necessary, but I prefer being among my parishioners.
What do you like best about your work?
The priesthood isn't about entertainment, it's about joy, of which
I undeservedly have lots. What I like best is being among my
flock in Rychvald.