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Boston College Faculty Among Delegates to
Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. (June 21, 2012) – Two Boston College professors are members of an influential working group of 30 academics, educators and clergy gathered in Rome this week for the Congregation for Catholic Education.

Lynch School of Education Professor Joseph O’Keefe, S.J., and School of Theology and Ministry Visiting Professor of Canon Law James J. Conn, S.J., make Boston College one of just four U.S. universities to send representatives to the June 22-23 conference, where they will discuss a range of challenges and opportunities confronting Catholic education throughout the world.

Joseph O'Keefe, SJ
Joseph O'Keefe, SJ

The Congregation for Catholic Education is the Vatican department that oversees educational enterprises affiliated with the Catholic Church, said Fr. Conn, who also teaches law at Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and is a regular consultor to the Congregation.

“The Congregation sees themselves as promoting cooperation and interaction among the various institutions – including Catholic universities, Catholic schools and seminaries,” Fr. Conn said. “I think this group broadly represents the different levels of Catholic education, different countries and different schools.”

James Conn, S.J.
James Conn, S.J.

The Catholic Church sponsors the largest educational network in the world, with well over 100,000 institutions of primary, secondary, higher and seminary education.  The consultation will help set the agenda for the Congregation for Catholic Education’s centenary in 2015.

Fr. O’Keefe, one of America’s foremost experts on Catholic education, said BC’s close partnership with Catholic schools in Boston and elsewhere in the US, as well as its role providing school leaders internationally, make the Lynch School uniquely qualified to share best practices with representatives from around the world.

“I hope to present some examples of recent efforts of ‘bridge building’ in the USA:  universities collaborating with schools through new initiatives, universities collaborating with each other to serve schools, and schools collaborating with each other,” said Fr. O’Keefe, the co-editor of The International Handbook of Catholic Education.

He cited two BC initiatives – the Roche Center for Catholic Education and the recent collaboration between researchers from BC and Loyola University Chicago on the first set of standards for Catholic K-12 schools – as examples of partnerships helping Catholic schools and educators across the US.

“BC is uniquely poised to support an emerging international network of Catholic schools -- which will, I hope, be one of the outcomes of the Congregation meetings,” Fr. O’Keefe said.

-- Ed Hayward, an associate director in the Office of News & Public Affairs, can be reached at