Date of Submission



The study recorded in this thesis sought to gain initial baseline information about the purpose of the Catholic schools, from the perspective of those who lead Catholic schools and from the perceptive of those who lead parishes in the diocese of Townsville. The study is perhaps the first step in beginning to ask whether a nineteenth century decision about Catholic schools as "the best sociological conditions for the religious socialization of the young is .... necessarily the best twentieth century solution" (Leavey, 1993, p9). To address that issue three key questions need to be answered . Firstly, for whom do our Catholic schools exist in the 1990s? Second, what do we, want our Catholic schools to be doing for those entrusted to them - or what criteria do we use to measure their effectiveness? Thirdly, what is the relationship of the school to the local church community - is it valid to call Catholic schools "faith communities" in their own right? As the study is concerned with the perceptions of parish leadership and school leadership in a particular diocese a case study method was chosen. The study sought information in three areas:

  1. The perceived purposes of the Catholic school today
  2. The changing role of the Catholic school today and its relationship to parish
  3. The changing evangelising role of parish and school

The study concluded that Catholic schools in the Diocese of Townsville provide the only experience of church for most of their students and indeed for many, if not most of their families. But it is a transient experience for there is little attempt to link the school faith community with parish or any other external faith community. Parents appear to be struggling with their role as primary educators in handing on the faith and are seeking much more from schools in this regard. Both parish and schools are operating quite independently with each intent on establishing their own faith community. The research also highlighted that allegiances to parish have changed. The data indicate that less than 20% regularly attend Sunday Eucharist and both parish leadership and school leadership recognise that many families avail themselves of the many services now offered through the schools. While the smaller, country parishes still appear to have some relevance and some sense of community, larger towns or city parishes appear to define community quite differently. The research also highlighted the paucity of dialogue between those who lead schools and parishes in the Diocese and this has contributed to the lack of clarity about the nature and purpose of Catholic schooling today. In reality many pastors' expectations of schools had changed little and the traditional criteria for success (attendance at Mass, involvement in parish, reception of sacraments) were still applied. Catholic school leadership teams were also struggling with defining the nature of purpose of Catholic schools, particularly in the light of the changing expectations of parents who enroll their students in Catholic schools. Catholic schools are now the only experience of church for so many students was clearly recognised. The additional responsibility this places on school leadership and on the faith witness of teachers was also recognised by all involved in the research as a critical issue.


School of Education

Document Type


Access Rights

Open Access


108 pages

Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)


Faculty of Education and Arts


If you are the author of this work and have concerns regarding the content. Please contact Library Research Services.

Included in

Education Commons