Date of Award


Access Restriction

Campus Access only Dissertations

Degree Name

Doctorate in Education



School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Mary K. McCullough

Second Advisor

Martin T. Connell, S.J

Third Advisor

Elizabeth A. Stoddard


This qualitative case study begins with the reasoning that a central concern and mission of the Catholic Church is social justice. Catholic schools, as institutions of the Church, are intentional in responding to this central concern and mission. This study attempted to explore how schools fulfill this mission, and in so doing, how students experience three identified principles of Catholic social teaching. This qualitative case study suggests that the school's response to mission will be found in the students' experience.

This qualitative case study conducted a thorough review of the literature and research pertaining to Catholic social teaching, the history and purpose of inner city Catholic schools, and the Catholic school as a community. The researcher employed the use of observations, focus group interviews, and document review to investigate the research question: How do students in an inner city Catholic elementary school experience three essential principles of Catholic social teaching:

  • Life and dignity of the person;
  • Call to family, community, and participation; and
  • Preferential option for the poor and the vulnerable?

The methodology for this study was designed as socially committed research, to provide a way of knowing for both researcher and participants.