The road to Emmaus. A model of transformational leadership

David Fincham

This article explores the implications of the story of the Road to Emmaus for Catholic school leadership. David Fincham lectures on the MA in Catholic School Leadership at St Mary’s University, Twickenham and is a former director of the programme.

As we journey towards the days of the Easter Triduum, we can look beyond the crucifixion towards the hope inspired by the Resurrection. In this respect, one of my favourite stories from the gospels – if not my most favourite story – is that concerning two travellers who are accompanied by Jesus on the road to Emmaus (Lk. 24.13-35). This well-known text relates a story that, like a poem, is pregnant with meaning, and which can provoke a new understanding on each reading. Indeed, the story gives rise to many interpretations. However, for the purpose of this article, I have in mind its implications for teachers and leaders in schools, not least Catholic schools, because it reveals key qualities of transformational leadership.

Let us remind ourselves of some of the salient features of the story. Shortly after the crucifixion, two disciples leave Jerusalem to walk to a village called Emmaus some seven miles away. There are details within the story that are left undefined. For example, we are not aware of the purpose of their journey. Even the actual location of Emmaus has not been conclusively established and has long been the subject of conjecture. We are told that one of the disciples is called Cleopas but we are not given the name of his companion. There has, though, been some speculation about the identity of Cleopas’ companion. One suggestion, for example, is that his companion was actually his wife.

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