The Brookland neighborhood in Washington, D.C., has changed significantly from the late 1990s, but so has Fr. Paul Hartmann.

That is where Fr. Hartmann lives with 11 other priests at a staff house for diocesan priests about a mile away from the headquarters for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“I enjoy living with other priests,” Fr. Hartmann said. “This is a much more diverse group in age and where everybody’s from.”

From the president of a Catholic high school in Wisconsin to associate general secretary of the USCCB, Fr. Hartmann made his return to Washington earlier this year.

The former pastor of St. Monica Parish in Whitefish Bay earned his degree in canon law from The Catholic University of America in 1999.

Throughout his transition from president of Catholic Memorial High School in Waukesha to serving as a parish priest in Whitefish Bay and Fox Point to serving at the USCCB, Fr. Hartmann’s resume and responsibilities continue to grow in scale.

Serving 194 dioceses and 300 bishops, Fr. Hartmann’s job is to “help them in their diocese and do all of the things they want done collectively.”

His line of work has substantially shifted focus within the past few months. He is still getting used to the “business day” lifestyle that differs from parish work within the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

“I know Paul misses the day-to-day pastoral work that a parish priest is called upon to do, but his talent set does also include what’s necessary for a good top staffer to do to help senior officials — in this case, of the Church — succeed. So I think he’s well-placed in D.C. there, including because he can help the Church better minister to its members and serve its role in the larger society,” said his brother, Mike Hartmann.

The large number of parish priests and religious houses currently within the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., means there is not an urgent need for extra priests to help out with local Masses, a change from his two parishes back on Milwaukee’s North Shore.

Fr. Hartmann said this is the hardest part of the change, getting used to the lack of interaction with parishioners or students.

“Back in Milwaukee, we would speculate who is going to get this parish or what’s going on in this part of the school or that part of the parish. While the conference has no role in the process, now we speculate who’s getting the next diocese or who is going to be the next bishop,” Fr. Hartmann said.

Fr. Hartmann has picked up a new set of duties that affect communities all over the country. Writing reports that are sent to the bishops, working on a number of pastoral plans and experiencing direct supervision over nine departments and two other offices, he has a significant workload.

While the magnitude of his work has increased, Fr. Hartmann has found that certain skills have carried over throughout his dynamic career. “The skill that has come into play most consistently in my life has been the ability to evaluate people quickly and, hopefully, through both challenge and encouragement and correction, get the most out of them,” said Fr. Hartmann.

From high schoolers to parishioners to staff, even to bishops, he says that in some ways all are alike, while encouraging them to get on board and move in the right direction.

His leadership style involves “managing enthusiasms,” said Fr. Hartmann. “You have to find people who are enthusiastic but are willing to be managed, whether that is staff, parishioners or students.”

Moving from Milwaukee to the nation’s capital, Fr. Hartmann said the process “continues to be a transition” and that it is “personally and pastorally, not quite the priesthood I imagined, but very little of my priesthood has turned out to be parish work.”

Fr. Paul Hartmann