Paul J. Hansen


The decline in religious in Australia in the 35 years since the end of the Second Vatican Council has brought an associated withdrawal of religious from the staffs and governance of Catholic schools. Lay women and men have replaced religious principals, but the principalship has not changed sufficiently to accommodate the new life realities of lay people in that role. This article argues that there has been an emerging recognition in Church documents on Catholic education of Catholic education as a ministry of the laity, but such documents are largely silent about the role, ministry, and vocation of lay principals in Catholic schools. The article calls for a statement from the Congregation for Catholic education on the leadership of lay principals in Catholic schools which acknowledges the importance of this vital emerging lay ministry within the Church and which recognizes that lay people are shaping anew this administrative role, distinct from the quasi-monastic practice of preceding generations of religious principals.

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