Normally one who keeps her head down, Maureen Sewell is very humbled and embarrassed by the celebrations of her 20 years of service to the Diocese of Parramatta.
“It’s been such a joy here. I feel that I’ve only done what I’ve been employed to do, so it’s rather embarrassing to be thrown in the limelight like this,” Maureen said.
Maureen Sewell is the Executive Assistant to Vicars General Fr Peter Williams and Fr Chris de Souza.
“I feel that I’ve been very blessed and privileged. I feel very grateful for 20 years of doing something I love and hopefully contributing a little bit along the way.”
Prior to her role at the diocese, Maureen worked as a secretary for 14 years at Catholic Church Insurance in Sydney, and prior to that, was at the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference in Canberra.
“In 1999, there was an opening for a receptionist for the diocese, and then Monsignor Kevin Manning asked if I would like to join the team, and so I did. I was in that role for my first seven years.
“In 2006, I became the secretary for three of the managers of the diocese, including the Vicar General, the Business Manager and the Professional Standards Manager.
“I became the Executive Assistant during Bishop Anthony Fisher’s time in 2010. It’s mainly secretarial duties including diary keeping, telephone messages and correspondence. I also help with the visa application process for our overseas clergy and seminarians.
“It’s a role that’s busy, which I love, at times challenging, and always fulfilling.”
Fr Peter Williams said of Maureen that she is really part of the furniture in the Chancery.
“Her knowledge of the history of the place and its operations is encyclopaedic, as well as her capacity to deal with all sorts of people making all sorts of demands is remarkable. At the pointy end of the Chancery, she is indispensable to the operation of the office of the Bishop and Vicars General,” he said.
Maureen said that the most rewarding part of her role is her contribution to the life of the church in Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains.
“My job makes me an integral part of the church.
“All of us contribute in our way. Parramatta is such a vibrant growth area that it’s a joy to be a part of that.
“I work with wonderful people who share the same faith vision that I do.
“Over 20 years, you see a lot of people come and go and you become very attached to people you journey with.”
Maureen said that she has enjoyed her time working under three different bishops and is inspired by the works of the clergy and religious in the diocese.
“All three bishops were so different. They’ve each got a different style and personality, which provides a freshness, and each modus operandi is different too. They’ve all left their impression on the diocese.
“The parish priests and religious minister to the diocese so selflessly and give themselves to what they’re doing and share of their spirituality and wisdom with us. It’s so inspirational.
“I get to participate in lunchtime Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral every day. It’s a big part of my life. There’s a wonderful community at the Cathedral which is very inclusive and supportive.”
Fr Chris de Souza has known Maureen throughout her 20 years of service to the diocese, and has enjoyed that time together, particularly during the seven years she has been his Executive Assistant.
“Maureen is able to anticipate some of the things I need to get done and then to efficiently carry them out. She’s always very courteous, very kind and generous with her time.
“I also find that Maureen is a very spiritual person. She not only takes her work as a job, but more so as a sense of mission in terms of furthering the mission of Jesus Christ here in the western half of Sydney.
“I thank her for her commitment and her dedication. She often goes far and above what duty requires, not just personally.
“I do thank her for being the kind of person she has been and continues to be for our diocese.”
Looking towards the future, Maureen hopes to remain busy when she does retire.
“I’m an outdoors girl. I run every day, which I’ve done for 50 years, and I walk my dog. On a working day, I spent approximately two-and-a-half hours outside every day.
“When I retire, I hope to do a bit of travel, I want to get back into sport on a regular basis, maybe some bushwalking, perhaps to learn a new language.
“I’d like to do some voluntary work in a meaningful way, whether it be visiting sick children at the children’s hospital or visiting people in nursing homes who don’t have anyone to visit them.
“A lovely opportunity to give back.”
When asked about the highlights of her 20 years in the diocese, Maureen said she prefers to focus on the present.
“I work on a philosophy on the sacrament of the present moment – a day at a time – so I tend to try and put what I can into each day.
“A priest once said to me ‘age quod agis’ – which means do what you are doing. He said to me, in brutal terms it means get on with the job, and I like that.
“At the end of the day, you mightn’t feel that you’ve had a hugely productive or creative day, but you’ve given it your best shot.
“I leave it in God’s hands. I give it the best I can.”