Dr. Erin Barisano, superintendent of Catholic schools for the Diocese of Orange, is pleased to announce Father Walter E. Jenkins, C.S.C., Ed.D., as the new president of Mater Dei High School.
Father Jenkins replaces Patrick Murphy, who resigned in January 2020 to assume a management role for the Arizona Coyotes NHL franchise in Phoenix. Murphy had served as president since 2002 but spent 30 years in various roles at Mater Dei, including principal and assistant principal.
Father Steve Sallot has been serving as Mater Dei’s president in an interim capacity, and as pastor of Our Lady Queen of Angels in Newport Beach.
A national search to secure a new president was initiated in October and was recently completed. Father Jenkins begins July 1.
Father Jenkins comes to Mater Dei after serving as president of Holy Cross High School in Queens, N.Y. As a nationally recognized visionary Catholic educational leader, he has extensive secondary school experience and has managed a complex business. Father thrives in a multicultural educational environment, which is a cornerstone of Mater Dei’s diverse faculty and student body.
“I’m pleased that Father Jenkins is joining the Mater Dei community,” said Bishop Kevin Vann. “His thirst to enhance the student experience of witnessing Christ in their lives speaks to the mission of Mater Dei.”
Barisano also credited Father Jenkins’ experience to continue the excellence of the Santa Ana campus.
“His leadership will enhance our Catholic identity as one of the largest Catholic high schools in the nation,” she said.
Jenkins’ vocation as a Holy Cross priest is grounded in being a teacher of our Catholic faith. The rich tradition of the Holy Cross as educators and influencers is well understood.
“The beauty of a Catholic, diocesan high school is that it represents the local Body of Christ in its racial, ethnic and socioeconomic diversity,” Jenkins said. “I have that feeling about Mater Dei. I’m excited about joining such a wonderful community of faith and learning. Moreover, I’m equally enthusiastic to drive its growth, which will be built upon that well-established goodness and success Mater Dei is known for nationwide.”
Father holds a bachelor’s degree in government from King’s College. He received his Master of Divinity from the University of Notre Dame and his doctorate in Catholic school leadership from the University of San Francisco.
Father Jenkins currently resides in South Bend, Ind., and will be relocating to Southern California to assume his new role. He will also serve as a priest-in-residence with the Diocese of Orange.
The Diocese thanks Father Sallot for his leadership of Mater Dei this past year and welcomes Father Walter Jenkins to our vibrant Catholic community.
About the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange
With 1.3 million Catholics, 57 parishes, five Catholic Centers, and 36 schools, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange is one of the largest, most diverse faith communities in the United States. The Diocese empowers Catholics across Orange County to have an active life of faith that is integrated and woven into the fabric of their daily lives through the community and sacramental life of the Church. Under the leadership of Bishop Kevin Vann, the Diocese works to establish and support dynamic, vibrant parishes and schools, and welcome all to live the Gospel with faith, joy, charity and unity. Christ Cathedral, the spiritual home of the Diocese, was dedicated in July 2019. Learn more about the Diocese of Orange at www.rcbo.org.
Pastoral Center: Communications Department
13280 Chapman Avenue, Garden Grove, CA 92840
office: 714-282-3075 fax: 714-282-3029