Dec 2 - Archdiocese Enhances Professional And Leadership Support As Part Of Revitalization Of Catholic Education*

The Catholic Schools Office (CSO) announces the appointment of three Area Superintendents who will support the strategic vision of the Cardinal and Secretary for Education in reinvigorating Catholic education in the Archdiocese of Boston.  The CSO is responsible for overseeing the education of 42,000 students in 124 schools.  Each Area Superintendent will be an integral member of the CSO’s leadership team and provide service, strategic direction, and support to promote and ensure Catholic identity, academic excellence, fiscal sustainability and school vitality.  

Area Superintendents will assist in building a solid foundation for a vigorous network of high-quality Catholic schools.  Each Area Superintendent will work with approximately 40 schools, Pre-K to grade 12, within a specific geographic region of the Archdiocese of Boston. 

The three new Area Superintendents and their respective regions are:

  • Mr. Christopher Flieger – North and Central Regions (including Boston and towns north of the city)
  • Mr. Brendan Kennealey – North and Merrimack Regions (including Lawrence, Lowell, and the North Shore)
  • Ms. Sheila Kukstis – South and West Regions (including all towns south and west of Boston)

Cardinal Seán O’Malley is committed to revitalizing Catholic education in the Archdiocese of Boston in a thoughtful and collaborative manner.  The Area Superintendents will provide leadership to advance the vision of a vibrant future for Catholic education, working with Archdiocesan leaders, pastors, principals, parents, benefactors, college presidents, and other stakeholders.

Dr. Mary Grassa O’Neill, Secretary for Education/Superintendent for Catholic Schools, said, “I am pleased to announce these appointments as part of our overall approach to revitalizing Catholic education in the Archdiocese of Boston.  These three fine and experienced professionals will provide our schools with enhanced direct contact signaling our deep commitment to improved service and direction. They will bolster the CSO team with expertise in Catholic school teaching, leadership, creation and innovation.  Cardinal Seán has made our Catholic schools one of his top priorities as Archbishop.  We are committed to fulfilling his vision, which will greatly benefit current and future generations of students in a profound manner.”
One of the Area Superintendent positions has been generously funded by the Catholic Schools Foundation (CSF). Mike Reardon, Executive Director of the CSF, said, “The Catholic Schools Foundation is thrilled to support the establishment of these area superintendent positions.  Principals and teachers are what make Catholic schools work so well and these new positions will strengthen the level of support and assistance for these incredible professionals.  Dr. O’Neill’s leadership and vision are ensuring that Catholic schools will continue to be centers of excellence throughout the Archdiocese of Boston.”

The CSO is dedicated to developing and supporting a system of schools that provide:

  1. Strong Catholic faith formation and gospel values, fulfilling the mission of the Church;
  2. Excellent academic  programs that equal or exceed the performance of “competing” educational sources;
  3. A viable and sustainable financial model that is driven by increased enrollments.

These appointments are part of a larger reorganization of the CSO.  Last month, the CSO appointed two new Operations Assistants to serve the office and schools - Sean Murphy, a Xaverian High School (Westwood) alum and graduate of the University of Notre Dame, and Christina Sorgi, a St. Paul (Hingham) and Notre Dame Academy (Hingham) alum and graduate of Boston College. 

Brief biography of Area Superintendents

Christopher Flieger served as Deputy Director for Academic Excellence in the Archdiocese of Boston Catholic Schools Office for the past two years.  He taught and coached for six years at St. John Vianney High School in St. Louis, MO, and also served as the History Department Chair.  Mr. Flieger graduated from Truman State University in Kirksville, MO with a B.S. in History and an M.A. in Education.   Before coming to the Catholic Schools Office, he attended the Harvard Graduate School of Education, receiving an Ed.M. in School Leadership.  Currently, Mr. Flieger is pursuing an Ed.D. in Leadership in Urban Schools at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.

Brendan Kennealey started his career as a teacher at Nativity Preparatory School in Boston.  He then went on to become the founding principal of Nativity Preparatory School in New Bedford, MA and the co-founder of Nativity Prep in his hometown of Wilmington, DE.  He is the founder and chairman of the Benebikira Sisters Foundation, which raises awareness and funding for the Benebikira Sisters' schools and health clinics in Rwanda.  In 2007 he founded Mission Schools International, which worked closely with the Rwandan government to develop innovative educational initiatives.  Brendan also serves as an adjunct professor in the Graduate School of Management at Boston College.  He holds a BA from Boston College and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Sheila Kukstis is in her third year as principal of Saint Jerome School in Weymouth, MA. She is a graduate of Bridgewater State College, earning both a B.S. in Education and an M.Ed. in School Administration. Mrs. Kukstis began her career as a teacher at St. Matthew School in Dorchester, MA.  She then spent ten years at the South Shore Educational Collaborative as a special education teacher and Assistant Director before returning to Catholic education as principal of St. Andrew School in Jamaica Plain, MA.  Immediately before coming to Saint Jerome School, she was principal of the Chamberlain School in Taunton, MA.  Mrs. Kukstis will receive her Ed.D. in Leadership in Urban Schools Program from the University of Massachusetts, Boston this spring with her doctoral research focusing on Catholic education.  She will continue to work with Saint Jerome School through June.

About the Archdiocese of Boston:  The Diocese of Boston was founded on April 8, 1808 and was elevated to Archdiocese in 1875. Currently serving the needs of nearly 2 million Catholics, the Archdiocese of Boston is an ethnically diverse and spiritually enriching faith community consisting of 291 parishes, across 144 communities, educating approximately 42,000 students in its Catholic schools and 156,000 in religious education classes each year, ministering to the needs of 200,000 individuals through its pastoral and social service outreach and in support of a health care ministry that meets the needs of some 1 million patients each year.   Mass is celebrated in nearly twenty different languages each week. For more information, please visit