Boston Archdiocese Search Firm Looking for Schools Superintendent in the Wrong Place

A number of readers have asked us to share a bit about what is happening in the Archdiocese of Boston’s search for the new Superintendent of Schools.   As you may recall, Mary Grassa O’Neill stepped down from the position last summer.  She went back to Harvard.  At that time, the archdiocese said: “A process will be implemented for the selection of a new Secretary for Education/Superintendent and further announcements will be made regarding an interim appointment for this position.”  Now we find that the search firm retained by the Boston Archdiocese is advertising to fill the role in none other than the National Catholic Reporter, a publication known for professing views that are against Catholic Church teachings.rcab_superintendent of schools

The search is being run by Bellwether Education, and the position description can be found here.  The first responsibility listed is: “Strengthening the Catholic identity and the quality of religious education in the schools.”  That is great!  (though other aspects of the job description raise questions for us).  So,if they want to strengthen Catholic identity in the schools, it is exactly why the search firm would be advertising in a publication read by people who like to read a paper condemned by the local bishop last year, who admonished that it should not advertise itself as a “Catholic” publication:  

In a column appearing in his diocesan newspaper, Bishop Finn notes that he, as the bishop of the diocese in which the Reporter is located, has the duty to “call the media to fidelity.” He cites the Code of Canon Law, which (in #1369) calls for “a just penalty” for anyone who “excites hatred of or contempt for religion or the Church.”

The National Catholic Reporter, Bishop Finn remarks, has taken an editorial stance that puts the publication at odds with the Church, by “officially condemning Church teaching on the ordination of women, insistent undermining of Church teaching on artificial contraception and sexual morality in general, lionizing dissident theologies while rejecting established Magisterial teaching, and a litany of other issues.” He reveals that he has received numerous complaints about the Reporter’s editorial policies.

One might reasonably ask, who from the Boston Archdiocese is leading the search?  Who is on the search committee, and who is leading the search?  Is it someone such as Sr. Janet Eisner (again) or Fr. Bryan Hehir? Why must an outside search firm have been engaged–at a cost of typically 20-25% of the annual salary for the position–which will probably amount to some $40-50K?  Is the Boston Archdiocese aware that the search firm they have engaged is advertising in a newspaper known for dissent from Catholic Church teaching?  What do they plan to do about that?  Is the search firm also advertising in the National Catholic Register and other pubs known for Catholic orthodoxy? Will it be made a requirement for the job that the person not only be a “practicing Catholic” but that they also accept and support all of the teachings of the Catholic Church?

Authentic Catholic education is very important, and it is extremely important that the Boston Archdiocese gets the right candidate for this role, who enthusiastically embraces and supports all of the teachings of the Catholic Church.  If you have a moment, drop an email to the new Vicar General, Bishop Uglietto ( and let him know you would like for a leader of Catholic Schools who supports all Catholic Church teachings, and ask him the questions above while you are at it.

27 Responses to Boston Archdiocese Search Firm Looking for Schools Superintendent in the Wrong Place

    • Mary, this post concerns the advertising of the position in a pub with a long history and record of dissent from Catholic Church teaching. If you read the Reporter (or “Distorter” as many call it) and agree with their dissenting from Church teachings, then please acknowledge that. Furthermore if you like the Distorter, you will not like BCI, so we suggest you find another venue for your comments.

      Sent from my iPhone


      • Mary Sweeney says:

        You didn’t answer my question. I’ll take that as a “yes”.

      • Mary Sweeney,
        BCI did not answer your question because it was a rhetorical question that required no answer. That some people are complaining about Bishop Finn to the Vatican is not relevant to the fundamental issue at hand here–namely, that the National Catholic Reporter routinely dissents from Catholic Church teaching (regardless of their bishop–they have been this way for decades) and the search for the new Catholic Schools Superintendent is targeting that publication looking for candidates. If you are looking for a Catholic school leader to maintain a strong Catholic identity faithful to Catholic teachings, why would you target readers of a paper that dissents from Catholic teachings?

  1. D Paul says:

    One headache after another from one of the 8 advisors to the new pope.

  2. Chris Whittle says:

    Why does the Archdiocese have to spend more money hiring an agency to assist in hiring, while parishes are about to be closed at a more nominal pace? Why can’t the Cardinal or the Vicar General conduct the search himself and interview the candidates?

    In either case, the Boston Catholic Schools do not teach the Faith, period. While they might be academically superior to their public school counterparts, they have turned into “prep schools” for kids with parents who are rich, with no regard to religion. They don’t teach that there’s no salvation outside the Church. The tuition in unaffordable for most good Catholic families.

    I was happy when Dr. O’Neill resigned last year because she was going to make every Catholic School adopt Common Core. But the if the Cardinal decides to hire someone with similar values at a six-figure salary, then this will show that he will simply not take any responsibility for his flock.

    I understand that is necessary that Catholic students be taught in Catholic schools, but that is nearly impossible in Boston if you are going to raise your kid in Tradition. The only choices are homeschooling or establishing an “underground” independent Catholic school.

  3. ltbear says:

    Get Carol Goofstason on the case

  4. Bob says:

    As a Catholic school teacher, I’ve seen a lot of “beuts” of (arch-) diocesan school superintendents, so I quickly wrote down my, “If elected …” resume:

    1. I have a Masters degree in Educational Leadership, with a Catholic Emphasis, from a non-Jesuit university;
    2. I believe that, if for some reason there was time for only one class during the day, it must be religion;
    3. I know for a fact that Common Core is a mistake and will not be taught in the archdiocese;
    4. I think that all senior diocesan education staff should take a pay cut of up to 50%;
    5. Social justice “teaching” is subject to immediate curtailment (most high school students don’t know enough of Catholic basics as it is) – can you spell Baltimore Catechism?;
    6. The Magisterium will be strictly adhered to – if parents or students cannot or will not abide by Church teachings of the past 2000 years, then they may step aside for students and parents that will.
    Not bad, but the system never works as it should (as evidenced by advertising the position in the National Catholic Reporter) and I’ve experienced enough incoming rounds in Vietnam to not put up with _+&% anymore.

    • Michael says:

      My kids go to an AofB parochial school. I think you would be an outstanding improvement to O’Neill. Not that that is much of a compliment, because she set such a low standard. But if you get the job, I have some info you might want to consider that Mary found irrelevant. I’ll keep watching … with bated breath. But in reality, based on your resume, you have no realistic shot at Superintendent; notwithstanding your outstanding qualifications.

      • Bob says:

        Thanks, but since the chances are so remote as to be non-existent, here are a few more items to consider in restoring the damage done to Catholic education.

        7. Everyone – teachers, administrators and staff must be Catholic(I have seen non-Catholics disrupt and embarrass an entire school);
        8. Teachers, Administrators and all others should sign a loyalty oath to uphold the Magisterium with their yearly employment contract (there cannot be any question of how they are to act);
        9. (Re-)introduce Latin into all schools (it is, after all, the official language of the Church) and get rid of the touchy-feely textbooks that are virtually worthless; and
        10. Mandate Exit Exams in Religion @ 6th, 8th and 12th Grades (this is among the most feared propositions because it would show if Catholic schools really are/are not Catholic).

        It is important that we demonstrate our Faith in all we do, no matter who we are.

      • Justyn Tyme says:

        Bob: There was a time in the history of the Archdiocese of Boston
        with Msgr. Albert W. Low, Superintendent of Schools, when all of the parochial schools used the same set of text books for all subjects@ 1950′ and 60’s and prior. All of the Religious Orders
        teaching in the Archdiocese e.g. SCN, CSJ, SND, etc met and composed Annual Examinations in each subject based on those texts. They arrived at the schools in a sealed envelope with a ribbon on it and only then in each class did the Sister- Teacher and Pupils see the Exam for the 1st time. The sample exam was saved annually for review for the next exam which obviously was different. Also: in the future all Catholics teaching in Catholic Institutions, including priests/religious, should sign the MANDATUM as part of their employment. As Pope Francis said ” the circus is over!!!”

      • Michael says:

        Oops … When you say “Everyone” … do you mean “Everyone – teachers, administrators and staff must be Catholic?” You obviously are unaware of the serious legal problem that such an internal policy would create. Let me explain.

        Don’t you realize that the policy decisions of the Archdiocese are not based on principled reasoning by the Archbishop but rather are currently controlled by a group of talented lawyers (one a former prosecutor) who have taken an oath to uphold Judge’s decisions … I mean the US Constitution and the Commonwealth’s Constitution. And so instead of actually taking the time to read those documents (the Constitutions) for themselves … this cracker jack legal team relies on Judges’ opinions (they call it case “law” – without any thought that “a law” to be a legally binding order under our system of government requires the people’s representatives to pass it pursuant to the explicit process laid out in the Constitution — and thus does not just magically become legally binding because of some judge’s “opinion”).

        And did you know that the “holiest” part of these Constitutions (according to the judge’s opinions — I mean “law”) are their equal protection clauses. How could you ever think about discriminating against non-catholics? Quite intolerant and not very equal of you.

        And please whatever you do, don’t tell me about religious freedom. Equal protection is much more important than an individual’s private exercise of his/her religious freedom – notwithstanding the Constitution’s explicit words to the contrary. And don’t tell me that by elevating the Equal Protection clause above the religious freedom clauses, that the government is “establishing a religion” in direct contradiction to the Constitutional mandate against such a thing. What … you think this logic makes it sound like John Adams wrote a Constitution with inherent contradictions in it. You fool. Adams obviously didn’t realize what he was doing and today’s inspired Judge’s know much better what he really meant — that religious freedom must be subordinate to the equal protection clause. Well at least that is what the ABA law school taught this cracker jack legal team while they were “studying” the “law” in law school.

        Now that you inderstand the importance of the equal protection clause, you surely would agree then that the cracker jack legal team is correct in saying that the HR people can’t even ask whether or not the person about to be hired is Catholic. How would that look? How discriminatory such a question would be — a blatant violation of the clause we hold near and dear.

        So putting aside the complete lack of courage it takes for this cracker jack legal team to willingly surrender our religious freedoms (without even so much as a whimper) and how unprincipled such a position (regarding Catholic school hiring) is, don’t you think your requirement should not only be applied to the potential teaching staff, and administration but also that the legal team members of the Archdiocese of Boston ALSO ought to make the very same commitment … to be prove-ably Catholic in mind, and spirit. Think of it in sort of an “equal protection” sort of way..

  5. Ferde Rombola says:

    I smell Brian Hehir in this.

  6. By paying to advertise the job of Superintendent of Catholic Schools in the Boston Archdiocese in the National Catholic Reporter(NCR), the Boston Archdiocese Search Firm appears to value the way that the NCR selects their own employees. An example of their criteria can be seen in their selection of their favorite columnist, Jamie L. Manson who describes herself as:”I am in a committed, same-sex relationship” and claims that this is a relationship approved by the Catholic Church according to her criteria from her studies in courses of Catholic theology and sexual ethics when she received her Masters of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School.(“Sacramental marriage beyond anatomy”,National Catholic Reporter,May 14,2012).
    In a report by Kathleen Gilbert,July 28,2011, Jamie L. Manson is reported to have” published a glowing account of a homosexual ” marriage ” between two Catholic lesbians, describing the event as a “transcendent” experience likened to a “foretaste of eternity”, in her column in the National Catholic Reporter.
    Is the criteria of the National Catholic Reporter behind the selection to advertise for a Superintendent of Catholic Schools in the Boston Archdiocese?

  7. Our “Bishop” is one of the most liberal and do nothings in the United States. One of his active priests denied the real presence on public radio with no follow up from the Bishop’s office.WE have nuns hearing confession and saying to people that confession is not necessary prior to communion.if one is in mortal sin.Trying to get the Last Rights for someone dying is most difficult in most hospitals.I feel that the Church almost does not exist in the Boston area. When I taught CCD many years ago I was not asked back because I taught to the true teaching of the Church. Now O’Mally is chief adviser to this current pope who has caused more confusion than anything I have seen com from Rome in my lifetime.

    • I take exception to your characterization of Cardinal O’Malley as a “do nothing”. Cardinal Sean is working tirelessly to eliminate the supernatural from the Catholic Church.

    • David S. says:


      Where and when were “nuns hearing confessions?”

      I know alot of nonsense goes on in the RCAB, but I think you may be exaggerating or misinformed.

  8. Little Red Hen says:

    Under the sub-head “The Challenge”, the ad states: “With this in mind, in early 2012 the Catholic Schools Office developed a strategic plan and implementation roadmap for the schools. This initial plan focuses on the elementary and early education schools; secondary schools will be incorporated into a 2014 strategic plan. The RCAB was aided in this strategic planning process by outside experts under the guidance of the Catholic Schools Council, the Archdiocesan body that consults with and advises the Superintendent of Catholic Schools and the Archbishop with respect to its schools.” BCI, do you have any knowledge of this “strategic plan”, and can you tell us who is a part of this Catholic Schools Council — I never heard of it before reading about it here.

  9. Joyful Noise says:

    Not sure who is part of the council but here is what probably was a power point on its formation and goals:

    Click to access The-Strategic-Plan-for-Catholic-Education.pdf

  10. Francois Tee says:

    You have to admit that if someone is looking for a job at this level in a Catholic school system the National Catholic Reporter help wanted ads would be a good place to look — thus its a good place to advertise.

    I do wonder if the RCAB has considered any current or past RCAB school principals as possible candidates. We have some very good, very large Catholic High Schools, some serving large geographic regions that would give a principal great experience as a possible candidate.

    • Francois, we agree that current or past RCAB school principals might be potential candidates; however, we totally disagree that targeting readers of the National Catholic Reporter is a good idea to find candidates faithful to Catholic Church teachings.

      On Mon, Mar 31, 2014 at 10:35 AM, Boston Catholic Insider wrote:


  11. Stephen says:

    Here is a great candidate.

    With the kind of money the previous hack made, she could probably start an order of teaching sisters with it.

  12. Bob says:

    Justyn: I’ll bet they saved a lot of money that way, too (buying textbooks in bulk). Of course, the Faith was not subject to equivocation then, as it seems to be today. I ran across a book, Religion: Doctrine and Practice for use in Catholic High Schools by Francis Cassilly, S.J. that was published in 1926, that I would bet today’s students would have great difficulty digesting.
    I have taught in an inner-city middle school where my students were responsible for many additional “Catholic things:” A fundamental knowledge of Aquinas’ Quinque Viae and St. Augustine’s Confessions. I also required my students to read a piece of literature that deals with our Faith (The Keys of the Kingdom) and serve Mass. Going to a Jesuit high school, students did not even know the Spiritual or Corporeal Works of Mercy! I don’t believe there are any Catholic textbooks today that can cover the range of what students should know.
    Students are not entirely to blame – a principal who never heard of the Memorare and changed words to a Catholic song because “we worship Mary too much” or priests who have never heard of the Sins that Cry to Heaven for Vengeance or the Golden Legend. Is it any wonder that Catholic schools are in such a mess?

    • Justyn Tyme says:

      Bob: Those text books that I refer to were written by priests and sisters with MA’s and Ph.D’s. Benziger was the Publisher and I think one set of texts were entitled “Faith and Freedom.” Another series was “Voyages in English.” Good luck finding one.

  13. Bob says:

    Michael: Paraphrasing a famous American, “Someone who gives up a little of their Catholicism for the secular, has cheapened American liberty and cannot be really called a Catholic.”

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