Over the mountain in Petaluma, St. Vincent de Paul High School has quietly been embroiled in leadership changes similar to those making headlines this week at Justin-Siena High School in Napa.
In May, the Santa Rosa Diocese, which oversees the school, announced a significant change in leadership with the retiring of St. Vincent de Paul pastor Father Gary Lombardi from the active ministry and the resignation of school principal Dr. John Walker.
In late September, Tom Coughlan, who had led St. Vincent de Paul High School and St. Vincent Elementary School in Petaluma for less than six months, resigned from the newly created role of president of both schools.
St. Vincent de Paul pastor Fr. William Donahue said in a written statement that Coughlan was stepping down “for personal reasons” and he praised Coughlan for helping lead St. Vincent’s schools during their transition between leadership administrations.
Despite his short tenure, Coughlan was praised by Donahue for helping to secure the financial stability of the schools while putting into place new programs, notably a new junior high.
“He helped us achieve our goal to hire a new principal for the high school and co-principals for the elementary schools months ahead of schedule,” said Donahue. “Whatever success we have going forward will be in no small part due to Mr. Coughlan’s skillful positioning of our schools for renewal and growth. I am most grateful.”
Coughlan was the first president in the 100-year history of St. Vincent de Paul schools, bringing the high school and elementary school in line with other Catholic school models around the country which have administrative duties handled by a president while day-to-day school activities are overseen by principals.
Coughlan declined to comment for this article. He lives in Sonoma Valley with his wife, Jenna, and his four children. They are parishioners of St. Francis Solano in Sonoma, where two of their children attend school.
The same week that Coughlan announced his resignation, the high school filled its vacant principal’s position with the hiring of Patrick W. Daly, a former principal and president at St. Bernard’s Academy in Eureka. A graduate of Sacred Heart High School in San Francisco, Daly has 20 years of experience as a teacher, coach and administrator in Catholic high schools.
Daly was selected on the recommendation of a selection committee led by Fr. Bill Donahue, the new St. Vincent DePaul pastor, and comprised of faculty, staff, Board of Regents members, parents and alumni.
“We were impressed with Pat’s deep experience, unique expertise, demonstrated leadership and continuous track record of success,” said Donahue. “His determination and commitment to Catholic education are inspiring. We are moving forward with great confidence.”
Coughlan began a new position as director of development at Hanna Boys Center in October.