Catholic educational leadership: exploring overlapping consensus of Catholic identity through narrative inquiry




Pagnotta-Kowalczyk, Eugenia

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Catholic educational leaders serve as the primary faith leaders in their school community and remain influential in the public discourse of Catholic education. As insiders understanding the contextual educational landscape, and who are at the forefront of renewal and change within their own school communities, Catholic educational leaders are critical in providing an account and understanding of how their lived experience contributed to the formation of their Catholic identity. Through their daily interactions with parents, students, stakeholders, politicians, and community, their ability to articulate their Catholic identity as a school leader is imperative for the broader understanding of Catholic education. This study, grounded in narrative inquiry methodology, explored the question “What is the lived experience of Catholic educational leaders in relation to shaping, informing, and influencing the conceptual formation of Catholic identity in 21st century schools?” This question resonates with the necessity to better understand how Catholic identity is lived authentically within Catholic schools for leaders who are entrusted with leading a diverse faith community. Four Catholic educational leaders share their stories of experience, working within a relational three-dimensional space of temporality, sociality, and place as key considerations of inquiry. By living, reliving, telling, and retelling their stories to live by, threads of coherence and continuity link their personal, professional, and spiritual landscape. Participant findings generated four organizing categories: Catholic identity, Catholic education, Catholic leadership, and relationships. Each category was subsequently framed with additional sub-categories to further develop and deepen Catholic identity as a storied landscape of experience within the framework of the three- dimensional narrative inquiry. Navigating this inquiry space gave rise to contradictions and tensions surrounding the articulation and expression of Catholic identity the difficult and complex role of Catholic educational leadership, the turmoil of an educational landscape that is challenging the relevance of Catholic education, and the dynamic and every evolving influence relationships have on faith formation. To both insiders and outsiders of Catholic education, this study illuminates a better understanding of how Catholic educational leaders shape, form, and influence the conceptual formation of their Catholic identity in 21st century schools. It also provides a lens to view how diversity and unity of Catholic identity is constructed and understood narratively.



Catholic, Catholic Identity, Leadership, Catholic Leadership, Education, Educational Leadership, Catholic Educational Leadership, Narrative Inquiry, Catholic Education, Identity, Faith Leaders, Catholic Faith Leaders, Lived Experience, Stories to Live By, Catholic Identity in 21st Century Schools, 21st Century Catholic Leadership, 21st Century Catholic Educational Leadership