Posted in Catholic leadership, School governance, School Leadership


I write, once in a blue moon, about my boss, but only indirectly.  He’s a priest, and heads our parish, of which the school is a ministry.

He has a lot of strengths and people generally like him.

But he has some weaknesses.  He doesn’t like confrontation (and heck, neither do I…who is supposed to do the confronting if neither of us can?) and he seems to have a whole lot less faith than I do in the parishioners and what they can do, if asked, and in God and what He can do.  But I accept that sometimes I’m a little too Pollyanna (Hayley Mills version, at any rate) or Anne Shirley about things, and so I can accept that maybe I might be a little too sure that God can work through our parishioners to save us when the lesson might be, “look, guys, you gotta close.”

Yesterday, though, I learned that this decision was botched badly, and the Diocese is in the process of advising me on how to work through it all because, since my boss is gone for two weeks, there are (as you might imagine) things to do, things that would have been better handled had we taken these two weeks to get our ducks in a row first and then announced our closure second.

There is little vindication in being right about how this should have gone down.

There is little excitement about doing the right thing here, which is protecting his career and making sure that parishioners are okay with his authority to the extent possible.  That’s what the Diocese and I are doing now.

My family says I should let him deal with the mess he created; and I will…later.  He can fix the parish.  But at this point, my job is to try to save this for the kids, to try to focus on getting them into another Catholic school and arguing for the money necessary to pay for them to go to school there and for the jobs necessary for as many of my people as possible within the Catholic schools here.  If I’m going to work on getting them as much money as possible, I can’t very well destroy things here in the meantime.

If I don’t focus on doing something, it’ll be like Agamemnon (and yes, I am dramatic).  The kids loved this story: the story of having no choice but to fight to get Helen of Troy back due to a pact he made when he was a suitor to Helen (they didn’t pick him), then he can’t get the wind to sail so the oracle tells him to sacrifice his daughter, which he does, then goes off on a boat to Troy, fights the war, and brings back Cassandra (the prophet cursed; she spoke the truth, but no one believed her) as his mistress, and tells his wife to take care of her, as he’s gonna have a bath.

Not surprisingly, Agamemnon’s wife, Clytemnestra, conspires with her new boyfriend to stab Agamemnon in the bath.  Of course, the Greeks can’t let this stand, so her two surviving children will do her in later.

But heck, I get why she’s mad.  It’s not bad enough he has to fight to reclaim an old girlfriend, he kills their child, then comes back with a mistress, like she’s nothing to him.  And (this is the point I am actually making here) she’s had time to stew about it.

That’s what we’re fighting now.  Two weeks to stew about how messed up this is, is quite possibly not going to make any of us happy campers when he returns.

But if I can focus on the kids, and the Diocese can focus on the PR and logistics, well, maybe we can compartmentalize our anger in such a way that we can direct it to help him learn from this, rather than having us instead set fire to what’s left of the parish.

Metaphoric fire, of course.  We do understand that a real fire would be bad.

This is the strangest lesson in leadership: what to do when your boss really messes up, but apparently this is the one I get to learn…hopefully.