Towards a formative leadership program in a Catholic school
LE3 .A278 2017
Doctor of Ministry
Acadia Divinity College
Catholic schools in Ontario are rapidly facing the prospect of being rendered unnecessary to the public interest, unsustainable as autonomous educational institutions, and unable to hold on to their distinctiveness and formative practices in the absence of the religious orders. Of the three prospects, the third is more likely the biggest challenge to longevity because it is a major challenge from within the larger Catholic educational and faith communities. External challenges to Catholic school survivability take a second place to those from within. Although an exhaustive discourse of wait and see if the inevitable will happen, has permeated Catholic education in Ontario, some stakeholders are partially complicit in the movement towards denominationally-free education. The complexity of the issues demands a comprehensive set of investigative tools. This researcher uses a mixed-method approach of qualitative and quantitative data, guided by an appreciative lens, to show the challenges facing Catholic secondary school student formation in Ontario. The primary concern is how the formators will continue the process of student formation begun by the founding religious order in this one school. This researcher argues that the moral, political, and socio-cultural defense of the Catholic schools will indeed remain with a next generation of Catholic secondary school students, who will need equipping to articulate the vision and distinct character of the Ontario experience. What one Catholic school in Toronto is doing to assure this continuity, figures prominently in the argument for stronger formative practices rather than weaker ones. The absence of religious orders in the Catholic schools, the diminishing influence of the Catholic Church, and the general lack of conviction of many Catholic educators about one distinct identity, must be mitigated by even stronger and more youthful voices who are adequately faith-formed. Opportunities for these young evangelizing persons to share the Church’s missionary efforts and to champion any future cause for distinctive Catholic Christian vision needs to be intentionally and intuitively done in a lay-led formative process.
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