Seven Survival Skills for Catholic School Leaders

By Caruso, Rev Michael P. | Momentum, September/October 2005 | Go to article overview

Seven Survival Skills for Catholic School Leaders


Caruso, Rev Michael P., Momentum


As lay men and women assume roles of leadership, they need pastoral skills that will help them in their work

In a Catholic School Leadership class, students write case studies drawn from real life experiences. The dilemmas are not simply about making good decisions; they incorporate strategies related to a pastoral style from the Gospel. Among the cases are teenage pregnancy, taking money with strings attached, doling out consequences for plagiarism and turf battles with CCD students using the school. These all demand pastoral skills and sensitivities that are animated by the teachings and example of Jesus.

Pastoral theology could be defined as the art of applying theological principles to real life situations, e.g., what does the Incarnation of Jesus demand in my treatment of others? Pastoral skills are not to be confused with being a sycophant or a doormat.

Not infrequently, people manipulate those in helping professions into guilt feelings. Many have heard lectures on patience, charity and compassion from those who owe tuition but are somehow able to finance spring breaks to snorkel in Belize or make a case for forgiveness and mercy to miscreants. Aggravating situations come in a variety only found in the cereal aisle of your local market.

Catholic education leaders no longer can give their problems to sister or wait for monsignor's Solomonesque wisdom. As competent lay men and women assume roles of leadership, they need pastoral skills that will help them in their work. People will be turning to those dealing directly with their children for pastoral advice. Pastoral skills often are related to problem solving because there are very few perfect Catholics who fit Neoplatonic ideals. How do you counsel students with parents who are divorced or remarried or living outside the norms of the Catholic Church? As professionals, you should know the church's official teachings, but how do you translate these for people whose situations do not conform to recipe solutions?

Catholic school leaders often deal with weary grandparents raising small children or same-sex couples who are using the parish school but are ostracized by other parents-with both claiming Gospel values for their decisions. Issues of diversity demand knowledge of many cultures and religions.

Teachers and administrators engage in counseling, both formal and informal, raising issues of confidentiality. This does not mean priests will be out of jobs, but the insights of scholars like Peter Steinfels and Father Andrew Greeley point to the urgency for the laity to step forward and exercise leadership gifts bestowed at baptism and confirmation.

One can get a degree or certificate in pastoral ministry from Catholic universities or diocesan centers, but no amount of coursework fully prepares one for the situations that will be faced. Many pastoral skills are learned the hard way and cannot be gleaned from a text, but here are seven skills that can form your attitudes and pastoral strategies. Though not complete, the adoption of a few new strategies can make a big difference in job performance and satisfaction.

Pastoral Skill 1: Love the Sourballs

Consider the faculty and staff at your school. Among them is Rachel, who could be described as a perpetual sourball, a gloomier version of Eyeore. The church was too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. The school children were too loud on the playground and not well behaved at Mass. Rachel actually enjoys poor health and this condition shades her attitude toward life. One dreads the days that require spending time with her. She responds to comments about the beautiful weather with alerts that rain and flooding would soon follow, or this was the anniversary of her second husband's death.

One can choose to make a game of this situation rather than get annoyed. Strive to greet this person with joyfulness, just to see how she or he will counter it with doom and gloom.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Seven Survival Skills for Catholic School Leaders
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.