Recently, invited by the Arlington Catholic Diocese Leadership Academy, Sister Patricia Helene Earl, IHM, Ph.D., Director of the Catholic Schools Leadership Program presented “Catholic Identity and the Spiritual Role of the Principal.” Current principals, aspiring principals, and teachers who have been identified as future leaders were invited to this series of four seminars throughout the year to hear a panel of speakers lecture on leadership and the various administrative roles of principals. The objective of Sister Patricia’s presentation was to prepare future principals in the Arlington Catholic Diocese on their spiritual role. She’s been presenting on this topic north for 30 years but according to her, she’s been teaching on this topic “all my life.”
Sister Patricia’s presentation emphasized the significance of the spiritual responsibility of a principal and what is necessary for the spiritual development of students as well as faculty at a Catholic school. Regarding the spiritual role of a principal, Sister Patricia said, “Principals are called to assist in the faith formation of their students as well as develop their gifts, skills and talents. They are servant-leaders modeling Jesus who washed the feet of the apostles at the Last Supper. They strive to look after the needs of others and do their best to assist teachers.” This objective, according to Sister Patricia, must be balanced with knowing the academic curriculum and the administrative knowledge to work with all students, especially students with special needs. Due to the nature of Catholic schools, principals must be well-rounded and secure in their understanding of Catholic identity and seek ways to build and deepen that Catholic Identity and culture. “The principal sets the example,” said Sister Patricia. “They must create an atmosphere conducive to Christian virtues—one where they themselves model Christian virtues—pray with students regularly, and model meditation so that students and faculty deepen their love of Christ and knowledge of our Catholic faith.” Sister Patricia provided sound instruction for rising Catholic leaders.
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Written by Pierre Thomas