On 22 May, Patrician Brother Aengus Kavanagh was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the Australian Catholic University for his sixty-year ministry to Catholic education. To quote from the conferral address:
Brother Aengus Kavanagh is an Irish-born Patrician Brother who came to Australia more than 60 years ago. In the ensuing decades, Brother Aengus has made a monumental contribution to Catholic schools. He has been part of the transformation of Catholic education from its humble origins in this country to its current status as a confident and respected sector in Australia’s education landscape.
Br Aengus’s educational acumen has reached to all corners of New South Wales, to provinces in Papua New Guinea, to Pakistan and Kenya, and even to his native land of Ireland while he was based there as the Congregation’s International Leader. He is responsible for several books and videos as author or as editor: Secondary Education in Ireland – Aspects of a Changing Paradigm (1992); Jubilee 2000…a time to remember; From Option to Imperative – Towards a culture of teacher development in Catholic schools (co-editor with Dr Michael Bezzina, 2003); and co-editor with Sr Leone Pallisier OSU of Will Catholic Schools Be Catholic in 2030?
He is a Fellow of the Australian College of Education and from 2012 was made a Fellow of the Australian Catholic University for three years.
Br Aengus has played an integral role in the development for Catholic education in the Diocese of Parramatta. In 1981 he was appointed the inaugural Catholic Education Office Regional Director of the Western Region. He held this post until 1986 when he became the Congregation Leader of the Patrician Brothers. In 1995 he returned to the Parramatta CEO as Head of Division for Professional Development and Leadership. From 2006 to 2009 he continued to minister as a member of the Professional Learning Team.
In 1995 he played a major role in the setting up of the Elim Leadership Programme for Experienced Catholic Principals held biannually at Mulgoa. Twenty-four years on and he continues to play a leading role in the administration and presentation of the five-day course.
In 2002 the Parramatta Catholic Education Office recognised Br Aengus’s contribution to education in the Diocese by naming a new in-service facility after him at Mt Druitt – The Aengus Kavanagh Education and Equity Centre.
Ever since Br Aengus Kavanagh arrived in Sydney from Ireland as a twenty-year-old in December 1957, he has committed himself totally to the education of Catholic youth firstly as a classroom teacher, then as principal at Patrician Brothers College, Fairfield, and finally as an educator and mentor of the educators.
As is often said, our current Catholic education system rests on the shoulders of the giants who have built its foundations through their determination, selflessness, courage, vision, and their faith in Divine Providence. Certainly Br Dr Aengus Kavanagh is one of these giants.