Towards a vision for leadership in Catholic schools

Brian Joseph Kelty, Fordham University


The present study clarifies a number of important issues pertinent to Catholic education, as it attempts to present a synthetic statement about the nature of Catholic education for the present and near future. In the wake of the second Vatican Council the Catholic Church issued several official documents on Catholic schooling and Catholic education. These documents contain an implicit philosophy of education which differs substantially from the philosophy of the 1929 encyclical letter, Divini Illius Magistri. Richard H. Niebuhr's typology of the relationships between Christ and culture is used as a framework to clarify the evolution of a Catholic educational philosophy in these documents.^ Analysis of four typical themes, traditionally explored in educational philosophy, demonstrates the changed character of Catholic education. The themes are those of: the nature of the person, the role of knowledge, a view of the history and destiny of humanity, and the nature of society. The move to the subject in theology has lead to a view of the person as uniquely transformed by the Incarnation and therefore the voice of transcendent presence is heard within the self: the role of the education of the imagination in building a self impervious to the consumer society is highlighted. The person is more constitutive of knowledge than realist metaphysics seemed to allow: knowledge is therefore both pluriform and always capable of disclosing a vision of the transcendent. The Christian reading of history as the story of our human journey in response to God who speaks a word of revelation, undergirds the Christian idea of working for the transformation of society. These documents emphasize an education that highlights the task of transforming this world. Supernatural goals are intimately connected with working for the kingdom of God in this life.^ Catholic educational philosophy no longer operates in the exclusive fashion of a self contained system. However, the focus of these themes provides a visionary content for Catholic educational leadership. This study provides administrators and teachers in Catholic schools with guidance as they seek to preserve the identity of Catholic schools on the threshold of the twenty-first century. ^

Subject Area

Theology|Education, Administration|Education, Philosophy of

Recommended Citation

Kelty, Brian Joseph, "Towards a vision for leadership in Catholic schools" (1993). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9412138.