Ann Garrido offers a great handbook for Catholic school administrators.  Redeeming Administration: 12 Spiritual Habits for Catholic Leaders is written for the busy administrator.  There are many books about leadership, instructional leadership, and school management.  But this is the first book I’ve encountered which deals with the ministry of Catholic school administration.

Most of us were originally trained for teaching and working with students.  I’ve yet to meet someone who aspires to the administrative life—replete with meetings, phone calls, policy revisions.  Did I mention meetings?  And the “poverty of results” as Garrido calls it—the lack of measurable outcomes.  Garrido takes different aspects of administrative life and injects them with spiritual traits: breadth of vision, generativity, trust, agape, integrity, humility, courage, reflection, humor, forgiveness, embracing death, and hope.  For each of the 12 chapters, she also includes a spiritual mentor who displayed the same trait.

“How is the ministry of administration somehow part of the way that God is transforming me into the person God dreams me to be?” (7).  Garrido approaches administration as a ministry and part of God’s salvific plan for our lives.  For example, in breadth of vision, she exhorts, “administration can cultivate the spiritual growth—expanding not just one’s mind but also one’s heart, to love and desire the common good, the flourishing of all.”  I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a more beautiful description of the mundane work that is administration.

The chapter which resonated the most with me was on trust.  When I began as an administrator, I think I really believed I was going to be able to change everything.  But I quickly (perhaps not as quickly as I should have!) learned that wasn’t going to happen.  Garrido says, “administration has forced me to let go of the illusion that I can successfully manage every detail and taught me to trust others to carry out their part” (42).  Amen!  I need to trust that the people I work with will get their jobs done and I cannot benefit from worrying about it.

This is a small accessible book designed to be read in small chunks for reflection.  In fact, each chapter ends with reflective questions and a prayer.  It’s a nice addition to your busy working life.  Listen for Garrido’s interview on the Catholic School Matters podcast (Episode #53 drops Monday, May 29th).

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