Catholic school leadership is a specialized ministry in the Church.
All baptized Christians are called to discipleship and to work toward the transformation of the world. Some (though not all) Christians are called to exercise a specific ministry (or ministries) in the Church. Although there are many different definitions for “ministry,” most have a number of elements in common. Ministry consists of intentional action(s) done in a public context. Ministry involves both serving and leading other disciples of Christ to further the mission of the Church and the Kingdom of God. Ministry is done by those gifted with certain charisms (in other words, ministry is the work of God and of God’s grace in and through the one who does ministry). Ministry is done on behalf of the Church and by those who have been appointed and/or validated through some form of ecclesial authorization. When laity engage in ministry, they do so in close mutual collaboration with the pastoral ministry of the ordained. If we think carefully about the daily lives and activities of Catholic school leaders vis-à-vis these descriptors of ministry, it becomes abundantly clear why their vocation can be described as a specialized ministry of the Church.
Ministry requires formation.
All forms of ministry require preparation and formation. This preparation is not just the acquisition of knowledge or information; nor is it simply the mastering of certain skills. Formation for ministry attends to the whole human person, focusing on the development of the human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral attributes necessary for a person to be an authentic and credible witness of the faith. A life of ministry requires that we seek to live virtuous and holy lives, recognizing in humility that we can only do so with the help of God’s grace. Formation for ministry prepares us to become palpable signs and instruments of God’s love and compassion for the world; it should also keep us from ever being a contradiction of that love or an obstacle to others who are seeking to know the presence and love of God in their lives. Ministerial formation does require a certain degree of academic preparation, but this must be carefully integrated and balanced with the other dimensions of formation.