"I'm sorry, I'm only allowed to speak English here?"
Flack, Emma Margarita
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The purpose of this action research study was to create conditions, through active interventions, that help St. Rita Catholic Church become a more unified community within its diversity. The following questions guided this research: • What are the current barriers to intercultural integration at St. Rita’s? • How does leadership participate in change related to intercultural relations? The qualitative study, which took place from March 2011 through June 2013, included four interventions led by a collaborative action research team members. This group of change agents sought to understand the cultural barriers hampering the progress toward parish goals, while discovering the competencies necessary to create effective and long-term change agents within the organization. The work of three particular theorists influenced the approach and understanding of cultural issues within organizations experiencing change. These include Hofstede’s (1984) views on cultural dimensions, Schein’s (1984) culture and organizational development model, and Torbert’s (2004) approach to adult learning. The study presented several findings from the perspective of the aforementioned research questions. Cultural and nationality differences have contributed to the way various groups participate in collective vs. individual activities and initiatives. These cultural origins also impact how people from different cultures perceive and respond to those in power or positions of authority. Further, the data analysis showed the emergence of a majority-minority culture as the parish’s demographic makeup has shifted throughout the past decade. Leadership competencies also surfaced as a common theme. As the parish demographics have evolved, the requisite for intercultural leadership competencies have become more prevalent within this multicultural organization. The needs for training, collaboration, improved communication, and transparency from leaders were frequent and consistent themes within the data. In addition, the study assessed the impact of social conditions on participation within parish life. Compounding issues such as immigration status, language barriers, and experiences of racial profiling shed further insights on social issues affecting sects of the parish body. Conclusions from the action research study have provided a roadmap for the change agent community at St. Rita Catholic Church. Keywords: action research, diversity, Catholic church, unity, organizational culture, multicultural organization, leadership