New director set to lead Saint Paul Seminary Catholic School Leadership program

justin shay dr pamela patnode saint paul seminary

A familiar face is taking over The Saint Paul Seminary’s work to form the next generation of Catholic school principals.

Justin Shay, principal at Ave Maria Academy in Maple Grove, Minnesota, has been hired as program director for the seminary’s Certificate in Catholic School Leadership. The certificate program alumnus will replace Dr. Pamela Patnode, who has overseen significant growth and impact since joining the seminary in 2021.

“We are extremely pleased to welcome Justin back to The Saint Paul Seminary as a member of our faculty and staff,” said Dr. Christopher Thompson, academic dean. “In lockstep with our mission to form priests, deacons and lay leaders, he has worked as an effective, strategic yet humble servant in solidifying Ave Maria as a place where young people can become immersed in truth, goodness and beauty. Now, he’ll be equipping future principals to do the same.

“At the same time, we will surely miss Dr. Patnode. In just three years, she has put extraordinary work into building the seminary into a premier place for teachers aspiring to lead holy, authentic Catholic schools. The certificate in Catholic School Leadership program is in a great place thanks to her leadership.”

Shay brings over a decade of leadership and teaching experience to The Saint Paul Seminary.

After receiving his Certificate in Catholic School Leadership, Shay served as Ave Maria’s principal starting in 2021. Before that, he worked as a formation coordinator and middle school religion and humanities teacher at Transfiguration Catholic Church and School in Oakdale, Minnesota.

“I am excited to play even a small role in the renewal of Catholic education.” — Justin Shay, new director of The Saint Paul Seminary Certificate in Catholic School Leadership program

Shay spent 2015-16 in Madrid Spain as upper school theology and history teacher at Aquinas American School. From 2010-15, he worked at Ave Maria as a formation coordinator, middle school religion and Latin teacher.

Shay also holds a Master of Arts in Catholic Studies and Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and Catholic Studies, both from the University of St. Thomas. He attended St. John Vianney College Seminary as part of his undergraduate formation.

“The Saint Paul Seminary’s mission to form joyful, Catholic leaders is one I am eager to advance through my experience here in the Archdiocese and abroad,” Shay said. “The certificate program in Catholic school leadership equips leaders to boldly take on the vocation of school leadership formed by the rich Catholic intellectual and educational tradition – all rooted in a living relationship with the Lord. I am excited to play even a small role in the renewal of Catholic education.”

In the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and beyond, that renewal has been spurred in part by The Saint Paul Seminary Catholic school leadership program under Patnode’s guidance. A record 30 or more students will be enrolled when the newest cohort begins this summer.

Over 20,000 elementary, middle and high school students have been positively influenced by graduates of the certificate program.

“My time as director of the certificate in Catholic School Leadership program has been one of the most fulfilling – and fun – stages of my professional life,” said Patnode, who is leaving to spend more time with her children and grandchildren. “While I will miss our Catholic school leaders and my fantastic colleagues, I am eager to see what the Lord has in store with Justin in charge.”

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