The Church Leadership Program: An analysis of student expectations and goal achievement, 1978-1991

Madonna Joan Helbling, Fordham University


Prior to the 1960s, bishops could rely on religious communities of men and women to prepare their members to assume leadership roles in Catholic educational ministries. Since Vatican II, however, the network for training leaders, which involved seminaries, novitiates, scholasticates, colleges, and universities, has been weakened, due in part to fewer religious communities committed exclusively to Catholic education, and in part to the decrease in the number of priests and religious brothers and sisters working in Catholic schools. Today lay persons fill many leadership positions in the elementary and secondary schools, diocesan central offices, colleges, and universities. Because of a need to find new ways to train these leaders, the bishops requested that Catholic institutions of higher education develop special, unique programs to train Catholic educational leaders. Fordham University's response to the bishops' request was the Church Leadership Program (CLP). The program has been in existence since 1978. Since then there has been no formal research done to study whether or not the CLP was meeting the needs of Catholic educational leaders who participated in the program. This research, a formative and summative evaluation of Fordham University's CLP, analyzed students' perceptions of the CLP's success in reaching its goals and the goals of the participants. The results of the study revealed that participants perceived that the goals of the CLP at Fordham University were successfully reached. The goals most successfully reached were: "To respond to a church need to train administrators for religious schools" and "To address evolving and expanding needs of contemporary administrators." Ninety-eight percent of the respondents reported that the program helped them reach their goals. The two primary reasons participants gave for entering the program were: "To be better able to serve the church in promoting Catholic education" and "To increase my personal competency in carrying out professional responsibilities." The CLP was perceived to be very effective in the administrative formation of leaders for Catholic education. The unique opportunity to take courses in both the Graduate School of Education and in the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education made it possible for students to acquire the desired knowledge and needed skills in both the professional and the religious areas of their work.

Subject Area

School administration|Adult education|Continuing education|Higher education|Religious education

Recommended Citation

Helbling, Madonna Joan, "The Church Leadership Program: An analysis of student expectations and goal achievement, 1978-1991" (1992). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9304516.