The recruitment, selection, and preparation of Catholic school principals in six dioceses in the United States

Patricia Ann Anastasio, Fordham University


Because of their diminishing numbers, religious congregations have become less involved in identifying and preparing their members to serve as Catholic school principals. Consequently, diocesan school officials have assumed this responsibility of recruiting, selecting, and preparing principals from the ranks of the laity. Added to this responsibility is the challenge to respond to the goals of the 1991 National Congress on Catholic Schools for the 21st Century. This study seeks to understand how dioceses have responded to this challenge by investigating how many dioceses currently have recruitment, selection, and preparation programs. The study further seeks to understand how these programs within certain dioceses are responding specifically to the goals of the Congress in the areas of Catholic school leadership and the Catholic identity of Catholic schools. With increasing numbers of lay persons assuming the role of Catholic school principal, it further seeks to understand how sensitive diocesan school directors are to emerging understandings of lay leadership and lay spirituality, and what models of collaboration exist in developing their programs. After surveying all dioceses in the United States, purposeful sampling was used to select six dioceses for further study. A case study approach was utilized to analyze data collected from transcripts of interviews with diocesan directors and data collected from diocesan documents. The results of the study reveal that slightly more than one half of the dioceses in the United States have recruitment programs, and slightly more than two thirds have selection and preparation programs. Additional findings emerged from studying the six dioceses. The findings suggest that the dimension of Catholic school identity receives the greatest emphasis in the development and implementation of these programs. The findings further suggest that the dioceses rely on local colleges and universities to impart theoretical learnings in leadership while they prepare personnel in managing the technical dimensions particular to their own diocese. The study further reveals that these diocesan directors perceive no distinction in leadership and spirituality exercised by the laity, thus affecting their approach in implementing their programs. The study further suggests that programs are strengthened when dioceses collaborate with other dioceses, with local pastors and search committees, and with colleges and universities. Finally, the study reveals that the diocesan programs substantially incorporate principles and elements of similar programs operating in the public sector of education.

Subject Area

School administration|Religion

Recommended Citation

Anastasio, Patricia Ann, "The recruitment, selection, and preparation of Catholic school principals in six dioceses in the United States" (1996). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9631019.