A study of the self-described religious beliefs, values, and attitudes of Catholic secondary school lay teachers

Robert Martin Hoatson, Fordham University


The main purpose of this study was to identify the religious values, attitudes, and beliefs of Catholic secondary school lay teachers as defined by the teachers themselves. It was based on the theory that lay teachers' self-defined religious values, attitudes, and beliefs might be radically different from or closely related to the NCEA study. The theoretical rationale for the study was based primarily on five areas: past and present treatment of the laity as revealed through Church documents, theories associated with the organizational role of the laity and its effect on religiosity, theories of leadership and its application to the potential of the laity, the importance of language in understanding organizations, and organizational culture as a major factor in determining a group's values, attitudes, and beliefs. The study was conducted using the grounded theory method of Glaser and Strauss (1967). This method purports to develop theory from the ground up, whereby a researcher chooses an area of investigation never before investigated, and develops a substantive theory from the data collected. In this study, intensive taped interviews were conducted using open-ended questions. A series of eight questions was asked of each of fifty participants and the data was coded according to the constant-comparative method of Glaser and Strauss (1967). The following conclusions are noteworthy: (1) Church documents/literature are written almost exclusively by clerics and religious; in addition, authority and leadership positions in the Church are controlled by clerics and religious. (2) The language of the laity is not the language of the official Church. Lay persons do not converse in the language used by Church officials. (3) Lay teachers are excitingly devoted to their Church and to the Catholic school. (4) A lay teacher culture is grounded in reality, in the everyday events of life. It is characterized by emotive language. (5) The lay teacher relies on actions more than words to exhibit Christianity/Catholicity. (6) Staff development programs in Catholic schools must address the felt needs and religious experiences of lay teachers. (7) The lay teacher is confident that the Catholicity of Catholic schools will be maintained with all-lay or predominantly lay faculties.

Subject Area

School administration

Recommended Citation

Hoatson, Robert Martin, "A study of the self-described religious beliefs, values, and attitudes of Catholic secondary school lay teachers" (1988). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8813575.