THE HEAD of Catholic education for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Richard McCarron, will retire Feb. 1, the Archdiocese has announced.

McCarron, who was with the Archdiocese in educational capacities for 25 years, will remain as a consultant to the education office.

"It is time for me to step down so that new leadership can guide and direct the mission of Catholic education," McCarron said.

He added that he has "the utmost confidence" that the Office of Catholic Education and the Faith in the Future foundation, which manages 17 Catholic schools and four special-education schools in the Archdiocese, could set a vision "that will enable our schools to grow and flourish in the years ahead."

As secretary of Catholic education for the past 13 years, he has overseen a number of parochial closings and mergers. McCarron also oversaw this year's decision to transfer management of the archdiocesan schools from the Office of Catholic Education to the new foundation.

A national search for the next education chief will be conducted by the Archdiocese, Faith in the Future and a selection committee comprising educational experts, as well as business and civic leaders, the Archdiocese said. It added that McCarron "has helped thousands of archdiocesan students not only pursue their dreams but embrace the power of faith in their lives. His life has been devoted to the cause of teaching our young people, and for that we are deeply grateful."