Bishop Robert P. Deeley, Bishop of the Diocese of Portland, has named Father Louis J. Phillips, Ph.D., as the interim superintendent of Maine’s Catholic schools. Fr. Phillips succeeds Sister Rosemary Donohue, SND, Ph.D., who announced that she will step down from the position after 21 years on June 30, 2014. Fr. Phillips will leave his current assignments as rector of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and administrator of the Portland Peninsula & Island Parishes to assume the role of interim superintendent. The succession plan for those roles is still to be determined.
"While I would not presume to speak for the bishop, what has become clear to me, at least in a matter of less than three months, is that one of Bishop Deeley's priorities is Catholic education,” said Fr. Phillips. “The academic, spiritual and social benefits of Catholic education are well-documented and readily recognized. The very existence of our Catholic schools serves to energize and renew our Church, and most of all, provide all of us in the Church with hope.”
“We are very fortunate to have a qualified leader in Fr. Phillips to offer his voice and considerable experience as we enter into a period of transition for Catholic schools in Maine,” said Bishop Deeley. “He possesses a strong background in education and is eager to contribute his gifts as we assess the best ways to grow and strengthen our schools.”
A 1975 summa cum laude graduate of Clarion University of Pennsylvania (B.S., Speech Pathology and Audiology), Fr. Phillips completed his theological studies with an M.A. in Theology from the Catholic University of America in 1981, the year he was ordained to the priesthood. He furthered his education at Boston College, earning a M.Ed. in Educational Administration (1989) and a Ph.D. in Curriculum, Instruction and Administration (1992). Fr. Phillips attended Boston College at the same time as Sr. Rosemary, and the two worked together at the school’s Catholic School Leadership Program.
“I have been friends with Fr. Lou for over 20 years,” said Sr. Rosemary. “I believe he is an excellent choice to assist Bishop Deeley in discerning the best ways to ensure our Catholic schools remain committed to being faith-filled institutions that promote academic excellence and service, while examining new ways for these special places to flourish.”
Since his ordination, Fr. Phillips has gained extensive experience in education as a theology teacher and principal at schools in New Jersey; as an assistant professor of education at Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio; as a coordinator of faith development at Iona College in New York; as an assistant professor of education at Notre Dame of Maryland University; and most recently, as an adjunct assistant professor of education at Saint Joseph’s College of Maine in Standish.
“During these past few years of parish ministry, I've had the opportunity to work with both Catholic and public school educators in teaching two online courses that I developed for Saint Joseph College of Maine,” he said. “In sharing their vision, faith and passion for Catholic education, my graduate students have inspired me and renewed my appreciation for the tremendous value of Catholic schools and the critical role they play in the overall life of the Church.”
Fr. Phillips has served in a variety of roles at a number of parishes since arriving in Maine in 1998, including time in Augusta, Ellsworth, Auburn and Portland. He says he is looking forward to his newest challenge, and the opportunities it presents.
“Pope Francis has truly set the bar for Church renewal and growth, and Bishop Deeley appears to be committed to doing the same on a local level. Where there is good leadership, challenges become opportunities, and uncertainties become possibilities. I think we are experiencing a time of unprecedented good leadership in our Church. While I realize there is much work to be done, I think it will be fun to explore the opportunities and possibilities that are our Maine Catholic schools.”