New principals set to lead two diocesan schools


PROVIDENCE — Two longtime Catholic educators who share a rich legacy of compassionate ministry and a vision for excellence were recently named to lead two diocesan schools.

Patricia (Dooley) Murphy was appointed principal of Msgr. Matthew F. Clarke Catholic Regional School, Wakefield, while Maryann Donohue-Lynch will serve at St. Raphael Academy, Pawtucket.

“I really believe in Catholic education and in the sharing of values we receive from living a faith filled life,” Murphy said. “I am a product of Catholic schools and I loved the education I received.”

The educator credited the Sisters, Faithful Companions of Jesus at Blessed Sacrament School in Providence for fostering the strong values and love of God that she learned at home.

Murphy, a graduate of Providence College, where she also received a master’s degree in religious studies, began her ministry in 1974 as a teacher at the former St. Patrick School, Providence. She later taught for three years at St. Teresa School, Pawtucket, before joining the faculty at St. Mary Academy-Bay View, where she taught English and theology in grades 7-12 for 11 years.

Beginning in 1990, she transferred to La Salle Academy, Providence, where she ministered for 16 years in various roles as a theology teacher, Director of Campus Ministry, Dean of Students and Assistant Principal for Student Services.

After serving a year in the Catholic Schools Office, Murphy was appointed Dean of Students at The Prout School, Wakefield, until her appointment this summer as principal of Msgr. Clarke, where she served briefly as interim principal in 2007 following the sudden death of Principal Steven Hernandez.

“I thought it was a wonderful school,” she said. “I was so happy to come here.”

Murphy credited Msgr. Clarke’s “amazingly wonderful staff” for their dedication to promoting Gospel values and providing quality instruction.

“My goal is to get to know the children and their families and to make sure our school is a strong Catholic school where the students learn and appreciate the faith we share,” Murphy emphasized.

The longtime educator added that another goal is to work closely with faculty members to ensure that students “are well prepared as they go from grade to grade and that they have some fun doing it.”

The new principal said one of the greatest challenges she faces is to increase enrollment in the school, which currently has 392 students enrolled in grades Pre-K to 8.

“I will continue to work with parents and students so that Msgr. Clarke remains a very strong Catholic school in South County,” Murphy emphasized.

Murphy, the mother of two sons, is the wife of Dr. Stephen H. Murphy, principal of Stonington High School in Connecticut.

“I think that the connections you make in Catholic schools are lifelong,” Murphy said.

Maryann Donohue-Lynch, the former director of Campus Ministry at La Salle Academy, Providence, has been appointed principal of St. Raphael Academy, Pawtucket, by Bishop Thomas J. Tobin.

A graduate of the State University of New York at Geneseo, the new principal earned a master’s degree in theology at St. John’s University, Queens, N.Y., and participated in seven years of Lasallian formation by attending the Lasallian Leadership Institute, the Buttimer Institute for Educational Leadership, and the SIEL program, an international leadership training program held in Rome.

Donohue-Lynch began her ministry by serving as development director of the diocesan Community Affairs Vicariate, now known as the Secretariat for Catholic Charities and Social Ministry, and later worked for Witness for Peace, a nonprofit agency that supports peace, justice and sustainable economies in the Americas.

Donohue-Lynch subsequently taught theology at St. Mary Academy-Bay View before becoming Chair of the Theology Department at La Salle Academy in 1995. The following year, she was appointed Director of Campus Ministry at the school, a position she held until being appointed to her present role.

“I am dedicated to Catholic education,” she emphasized, adding that she is the first female chief administrator in a secondary school in the District of Eastern North America, Brothers of Christian Schools. She added that while St. Raphael Academy is a diocesan facility, the school enjoys a “covenant relationship” with the Brothers of the Christian Schools. Three Brothers presently serve on the school board.

“The charism of St. Raphael Academy is that of St. John Baptist de La Salle, patron saint of educators,” said Donohue-Lynch, who also serves on the Mission Executive Council of the Brother’s District of Eastern North America.

“I was very pleased, very proud and very humbled,” Donohue-Lynch said of her new appointment. “I am very excited to be here.”

Noting that St. Raphael is served by a “dedicated, professional faculty and staff” who provide students with a “robust college preparatory curriculum,” the principal stated that her first goal is to continue the tradition of providing an excellent, values-based Catholic education for the school’s students.

“Another goal is to continue to develop the curriculum to meet the needs of 21st century learners, especially in the areas of science and technology,” Donohue-Lynch continued.

“I will continue to work with faculty, staff and alumni to promote the Catholic Lasallian mission of St. Raphael Academy,” she said.

Donohue-Lynch emphasized that St. Raphael Academy faces a similar challenge confronted by other Catholic schools — maintaining and increasing enrollment in light of the current economy. She plans to overcome this obstacle by making parents of potential students more aware of financial aid opportunities and noted that more than 60 percent of current students are eligible and receive financial assistance.

The new principal has been married for 31 years to Dr. Brian Donohue-Lynch, professor of anthropology and sociology at Quinebaug Valley Community College, Danielson, Connecticut. She is the mother of two sons and a daughter, and enjoys traveling, gardening and spending time with her family and friends.

Photos: Courtesy of St. Raphael Academy (above); By