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Lynch School of Education

Celebrating the Mission


Barbara and Patrick Roche Center hosts Catholic school leadership conference for pastors and principals

CHESTNUT HILL, MA (August, 2, 2011)-- From parishes moving their schools from their current location to new, 21st century facilities, to the changing demographics of the Catholic school population, the model of Catholic parish education has seen dramatic changes over the past 20 years. These challenges cannot be met without strong leadership-- and successful parish based education relies on effective training and collaboration between Catholic school pastors and principals.

In recognition of these challenges and the desire to provide effective leadership models to parish schools, the Barbara and Patrick Roche Center for Catholic Education hosted the first ever New England area Pastor & Principal Leadership Conference at the Boston College Connors Retreat and Conference Center in Dover, MA. The conference brought together 15 pastors and 17 principals from parish schools throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire to discuss assumptions, challenges, and opportunities for collaboration between each parish’s principal and pastor. The theme of the conference was “celebrating the mission together.”

“In New England there are very few opportunities for pastors and principals to come together to discuss leadership roles in their schools. This conference served as a forum for the pastors and principals of each respective parish to discuss collaboration while sharing experiences with leaders from other parishes in the area,” said Dr. Patricia Weitzel-O’Neill, Executive Director of the Roche Center.

The conference featured five dynamic speakers who provided insight into crucial aspects of school leadership and led discussions on the importance of collaboration and practices to support successful and sustainable Catholic Schools.

Lorraine Ozar, Director of the Center for Catholic School Effectiveness at Loyola University, Chicago, delivered the keynote address that encouraged the pastor and principal teams to share their perspectives on one another’s leadership responsibilities and the challenges facing their school in the 21st century.  

"You can't be a Catholic school and not be excellent,” Ozar said in her remarks. “To be an authentic Catholic school you must also be excellent. We cannot ask parents to make a choice between Catholic formation and excellent academics.”

Another key feature of the conference was how parish based school leaders can make sense of school finances. Thomas Duffy, CEO of the Archdiocese of Washington led a conversation on how contemporary finance strategies and tools can help Catholic Schools achieve their mission. He challenged the participants to reflect on their current school assets and how these can be better used to serve their community and mission.

This is one of several professional development programs hosted by the Roche Center for Catholic Education. The Roche Center is in the process of creating a closed online community for pastors and principals to continue their conversation, and follow-up conferences that will include an expanded audience are in the planning phase.

The Barbara and Patrick Roche Center for Catholic Education, rooted in the Ignatian culture of Jesuit education, provides professional advancement opportunities, applied research, support and outreach for Catholic educators to ensure the success and sustainability of Catholic education. For more information please visit