The Catholic University of America

Final Presentation of

 Domenico Pullano

for the degree of 

Doctor of Ministry

Abstract

The Spiritual Formation of the Catholic Teacher

Director: Rev. Raymond Studzinski, OSB, Ph.D.

            Although the faith formation of Catholic teachers is recognized as an essential aspect of their training by both church documents and Catholic school boards, their spiritual formation is often overlooked. In order to be effective in transmitting the faith to their students, Catholic teachers also require on-going, life-long spiritual formation. Since there are no spiritual formation programs in the Catholic school boards of Ontario in which he works, the researcher attempts to design a spiritual formation program for Catholic teachers. Based on a survey of both contemporary and Catholic spirituality, the researcher maintains that a spiritual formation program begins with the concrete issues faced by the participants and then matches them with practices from the Catholic spiritual tradition. The researcher examined the challenges that characterize the lives of Catholic teachers, such as work/life balance, stress, low morale, and decision-making and determined that modern understandings of Sabbath keeping and Ignatian spirituality, among others, would especially benefit Catholic teachers.

 

The researcher then took twenty-five Catholic teachers through the spiritual formation program that he designed. The program consisted of eight sessions. In four of the sessions, the researcher presented various aspects of the Catholic spiritual tradition and provided the participants with spiritual practices to employ between sessions. These presentation sessions were interspersed with small faith-sharing group sessions where the participants discussed the materials in the program. After the eight sessions, the participants filled out two surveys, one immediately at the end of the program and the other four months after the program ended. The surveys indicate that the Catholic teachers found the spiritual formation program extremely meaningful. Among the benefits of the program, the Catholic teachers discovered the importance of self-care and taking time to nurture their spiritual side. They appreciated being introduced to the various spiritual tools, such as the Ignatian Examen, to assist them in their spiritual formation. They found the faith-sharing groups beneficial, as they discovered that they are not alone in their professional struggles.

More about Pullano

 

                Dominic Pullano is the son of Michael and Maria Pullano, immigrants from Italy, and the eldest of three sons. Dominic was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario. After a Catholic high school education, he completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in Religious Studies at the University of Toronto in 1984, followed by a Master of Arts degree in New Testament Studies in 1987 at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. After completing graduate studies, Dominic entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). He was in formation for a year and a half until he discerned he was being called in different direction.

                This novitiate experience ignited in him a passion for pastoral ministry and soon after in 1989 began serving as a high school chaplain (campus minister in the U.S.A.). Dominic ministered in high school chaplaincy for a Catholic school board in a suburb of Toronto at several secondary institutions for nineteen years. During this time, continuing his studies in youth ministry. He would also serve as president of the chaplains’ association, known as Catholic School Chaplains of Ontario (CSCO), between 2000 and 2004.

                In 2008, Dominic’s life and ministry veered in two different directions. First, he began working in another Catholic school board in the Toronto area as the chaplain for the entire board. Given the title of adult faith animator, Dominic began ministering to the staff of the entire board and whose work has included being a resource for both the professional and personal life of Catholic teachers. Being a chaplain at a board level has continued to be his full-time ministry to the present. Second, Dominic entered the Diaconate formation program where he was ordained in 2010 for the Archdiocese of Toronto. After ordination, he became the deacon at a large suburban parish, called St. David’s, which has a largely Italian population but which is now slowly but surely becoming more multicultural. Dominic has served at St. David’s for the past seven years.

 

                In 1991, Dominic married Gina D’Alessandro-Pullano, a Catholic teacher who has risen through the ranks to become an elementary school principal. They have been married for over twenty-five years now and have two wonderful children. Their eldest daughter, Alexandra, is a second year law student at the University of Ottawa in our nation’s capital. Their younger son Daniel is a third year undergraduate student in political science at the University of York in Toronto and hopes to follow in his sister’s footsteps.