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This article focuses on the challenge of faith leadership in Catholic schools. In particular, it reviews Australian research that aims to understand how principals conceptualize and enact their role as faith leaders. Consistent with American research, Australian research finds that principals see themselves as playing a leadership role in the evangelizing mission of the church by strengthening Catholic school identity and culture. At the same time, they are mindful of their limits in respect to their faith leadership capabilities. Moreover, the principals worried that the next generation of school leaders may lack the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to engage faith leadership in a changing social and cultural context. Consequently, they recommend faith leadership formation for teachers as well as principals, their deputies, and assistants. By situating these findings within the theoretical framework of symbolic interactionism, this article argues that, together, the current interest in Australia in Catholic school identity and leadership formation represents a positive development. However, there are also inherent dangers that come with the imposition of a generic Catholic school identity and a “one size fits all” approach to the leadership role. This article concludes by suggesting a way forward with the promotion of a new model for leadership formation that seeks to avoid these dangers.

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Open Access Journal Article

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Open Access


This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 International License.