Dr. Kathleen A. O'Hara, Ph.D. - Catholic Schools Superintendent

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Describe your responsibilities and how long you’ve been at the Archdiocese.

This is my 20th year at the Archdiocese. I have a BA in English/Secondary Education from Mercyhurst College (now University); MS Adult and Continuing Education from Kansas State University; and Ph.D. Urban Leadership and Policy Studies in Education from the University of Missouri- Kansas City. I started as Associate Superintendent of Catholic schools and served in that role for 5 yrs before becoming Superintendent. Two years ago, I was asked to serve as Secretary of the Family and Child Formation Division of the Chancery.  In this role, in addition to overseeing the work of the Office of Catholic Schools, I also work with two other offices - Children's Catechesis and Marriage and Family Life. As Superintendent, I serve as a consultant regarding all matters related to Catholic school operations to pastors, principals, and boards of 42 Catholic schools in the Archdiocese.  This involves 6 high schools and 36 elementary schools, including approximately 14,000 students and 1200 faculty and staff members. As Division Secretary, I serve on the Archbishop's Administrative Team.

Why did/do you feel called to work here? What do you love most about what you do? How does the Archbishop and other clergy leadership rely on your advice and decision-making?

My husband, Jim, and I are both products of Catholic schools, and we have been blessed to be able to send our children to Catholic schools. I started my professional life in Catholic schools, but as we had more children, I stayed home. When I returned to work, it was at the public, post-secondary level.  However, as our children progressed through the Catholic schools in the Archdiocese, I felt called to somehow be a part of Catholic schools here in a professional way. I had a desire to be able to integrate my faith life into my professional life. Also, I loved the experience my children had in our schools, and I wanted to be a part of that. My predecessor, Blake Mulvany, was serving in a dual role of president of St. Thomas Aquinas High School and Superintendent of Schools when our children attended St. Thomas Aquinas.  It was there that I met Blake. He asked me to serve on several committees related to Catholic education and several years after that, he asked me to work in the Office of Catholic Schools.

I love what I do because I am able to serve with Catholic school leaders and teachers who love kids and who are incredibly faith-filled and want to share that faith with our students. It is very rewarding to be able to offer them assistance that they value and appreciate. Ultimately, though I am now somewhat removed from the classroom, I can see that what we do in our office benefits students and their families. Similarly, in my role as Division Secretary, I can see the positive impact of what we do to assist pastors and parish staff. It is very rewarding. Plus, my original desire to unite my faith life into my professional life has been fulfilled. I am so grateful!

One of the most rewarding aspects of doing what I do is to hear from pastors that I have helped them with the various ministries in their parishes. I feel that they value the assistance we provide and are very appreciative of the work we do.  Likewise, I feel like I am a valued member of the Archbishop's Administrative Team. There are so many examples I could give that would illustrate why I feel this way, but suffice to say that in all of the years I have worked for the Church, I have felt that my work is honored and respected, as is my background and experience.