Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


School of Education


Leadership Studies


Catholic Educational Leadership EdD

First Advisor

Doreen F Jones

Second Advisor

Michael Duffy

Third Advisor

Ralph Metts, S.J.


The Catholic Church consistently affirms the rights and responsibilities that parents, the Church, and its schools have in passing on the faith to children. While Church teaching holds that parents are the primary educators of their children, it also maintains an important role for parishes and schools in nurturing faith formation. The relationship among these three partners provided the focus for this study.

In 2000, the Council of Priests of the Archdiocese of San Francisco published the "Partners in Faith: Parish, School and Family" report to address the relationships among parishes, schools and families in the Archdiocese’s parish schools. In the report, the Council of Priests identified the attitudes and beliefs that each of the three partners should foster relative to the faith formation of children. It also articulated goals for how parishes, schools, and families may work together to foster the Catholic faith: (a) collaboration, (b) a witnessing community, (c) worship, (d) Christian service, and (e) adult faith formation.

There has been no previous empirical study to evaluate the extent to which the Council of Priests’ recommendations have been fulfilled. Research affirms the critical role that the principal plays as a “bridge” for the family, the school, and the parish (Fuchs, 1985), and thus, the purpose of this study was to understand the perceptions of the parish school principals regarding the attitudes and beliefs articulated by the Council of Priests on the roles of each of the partners and the relationships among them. In addition, this study investigated the implementation of the goals and objectives of the report, through the lens of the principal.

This study utilized a survey methodology. Thirty-three of the 50 parish school principals in the Archdiocese of San Francisco chose to participate in the online survey. Participating principals indicated strong agreement with the statements of the Council of Priests and a strong understanding of their own pastoral role. Principals described many activities in the areas of Christian service, a witnessing community, and collaboration. However, adult faith formation and vibrant family ministry remain areas identified by the principals as needing greater attention.