Fostering lay leadership: The ongoing legacy of schools founded by Religious Congregations

Sean Whittle

Many of our Catholic schools were founded by Religious Congregations. Whilst very few sisters, brothers and ordained religious are now involved in teaching or leading these schools, the founding Religious Congregations are continuing to exert a positive legacy.  This article reflects on how they are fostering lay leadership and deepening the theology of the laity. Sean Whittle is a researcher based at St Mary’s University, Twickenham.

Religious Congregations and Catholic education today
When it comes to discussions about schools founded by Religious Congregations, there is a widely known narrative which charts their withering involvement in Catholic education over the past sixty years. However, this negative account can be challenged, not least because the warnings about the loss of ‘spiritual capital’ that the likes of Professor Gerald Grace drew attention to almost two decades ago have not come to pass. In what follows it will be explained that there is plenty of evidence that Religious Congregations have been working with their former schools and in so doing, supporting lay leadership in fruitful ways.

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