In a special ceremony on 17 March, during Catholic Schools Week 2010, more than 80 beginning teachers and 25 principals and school leaders were commissioned into their roles of service in the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta.
About 1,000 teachers and staff from schools across the Diocese and the Catholic Education Office joined Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP who commissioned the leaders and teachers before presiding at his first Education Mass as the new Bishop of Parramatta.
The Mass, which traditionally marks the beginning of the school year, was concelebrated by newly retired Bishop Kevin Manning and diocesan clergy.
In his welcome, the Executive Director of Schools, Greg Whitby, acknowledged the significance of the occasion.
“This year is particularly special as we welcome and celebrate our Education Mass with our new Bishop, Anthony Fisher,” Greg said.
“Bishop Anthony brings a passion for preaching, teaching and formation and we look forward to working with him as the Chief Teacher of this Diocese.”
Greg thanked Bishop Manning for his contribution to Catholic education over the past 12 years.
“We give thanks for your prophetic leadership, your unwavering support of Catholic schools and friendship,” Greg said.
The congregation, led by the choir of school staff and students, sang a hymn of blessing for Bishop Manning.
Greg also acknowledged the significant contribution of priests to the life of the Catholic school, during the celebration of the Year for Priests.
“I know I speak on behalf of our school communities in thanking our priests for your leadership and unwavering support of students, families and staff of Catholic schools,” he said.
In his homily, Bishop Anthony reflected on the range of emotions teachers experience in their vocation.
“Sometimes you will have the joy of teachers in seeing the light turn on on some child’s face, as suddenly they get it; as you witness the growth of young people in body and intellect, heart and soul, into young adults who will make a real difference in our world; as you help mediate the grace of conversion, at every level, intellectual, cultural, moral, spiritual in these young people,” he said.
“Sometimes you will be elated like those first apostles, as you feel the current of God passing through you, as you see that what you do is contributing to the welfare of your young people, their families, communities, and country.
“At other times, I fear, you may be exhausted or dry of inspiration and not so sure that what you are doing is worth the effort. It will be at those very times that you must recover the freshness and passion, the sense of vocation, that our new principals and leaders and beginning teachers feel tonight. You must return to the reasons you embraced this vocation in the first place, enriched perhaps by the reasons you stayed.”
In his address, Greg spoke of the role of teachers and school leaders in today’s world.
“As teachers and school leaders, we are called to build on these solid foundations in our efforts to improve the quality of Catholic schooling for a new generation of learners, never deviating from the central purpose of Catholic schools,” he said.
“Our own witness to the young people in our schools must be that Christ gives life and meaning to our work.”
Newly commissioned principals
Kevin Etherington, St Finbar’s Primary, Glenbrook
Laurette Sider, Stanhope Gardens Catholic Early Learning Centre
Patricia Carr, St Oliver’s Primary, Harris Park
Richard Blissenden, Corpus Christi Primary, Cranebrook
Robyn Meddows, McCarthy Catholic College, Emu Plains
Sue Guilfoyle, Holy Family Primary, Granville East
Tony Calabria, St Angela’s Primary, Castle Hill
Peter Stoyles, The Catholic Learning Community of Blessed John XXIII Parish, Stanhope Gardens (unable to attend)
Newly commissioned assistant principals
Angela Hay, St Andrews College, Marayong
Cathy Hey, Our Lady of the Angels, Rouse Hill
Fiona Bylsma, Christ the King Primary, North Rocks
Jane Campbell, The Catholic Learning Community of Blessed John XXIII Parish, Stanhope Gardens
Jeanette Black, St Joseph’s Primary, Schofields
Mary Kelly, Holy Family Primary, Emerton
Matthew Bond, Our Lady of the Nativity Primary, Lawson
Michael Pate, Emmaus Catholic College, Kemps Creek
Richard Grech, Delany College, Granville
Robert Muscat, Nagle College, Blacktown South
Newly commissioned Religious Education co-ordinators
Anita Knezevic, Our Lady of the Way Primary, Emu Plains
Ivanka Rancic, Delany College, Granville
Kim Brady, Nagle College, Blacktown South
Leesa Gillard, St Finbar’s Primary, Glenbrook
Louise Dalton, The Catholic Learning Community of Blessed
John XXIII Parish, Stanhope Gardens
Robert Barden, St Anthony’s Primary, Girraween
Sharon O’Keefe, St Agnes Catholic High, Rooty Hill