By Adrian Middeldorp
This story was originally published in CatholicOutlook, March 2015. It is being republished on the first anniversary of Geoff Officer’s appointment.
When Geoff Officer’s wife, Monica, spotted the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta’s advertisement for a Chief of Operations and Finance, she said: “Geoff, there’s your dream job.”
Geoff, who starts work in March, is looking forward to sharing his expertise and faith in this new role.
Though Geoff was born in New Zealand, his family moved to Fiji when he was nine. “Fiji is home. I don’t go there as a tourist. It’s something about the spirituality of the people,” he said.
At the request of the local bishop, Geoff later became a foundation pupil at the Cathedral Secondary School in Suva, now one of Fiji’s largest schools.
Geoff and Monica recently experienced the diversity of the Parramatta community when they attended Sunday Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral. He speaks warmly of “the strong sense of spirituality that goes with the many cultures”.
The child of an Irish heritage Catholic father and an English heritage Catholic mother, Geoff was raised in the strengths of these traditions. Though his mother had a deep intellectual approach to faith, his dad “believed, because you believe” and took young Geoff and his two brothers along to weekly Miraculous Medal Novena devotions.
Geoff’s devotion to Mary was significant in his decision to join the Marist Fathers’ seminary at Greenmeadows in New Zealand. “Mary was never somebody right ‘up there’ but like a mother, she was close to our family on our journey,” Geoff said.
He also identified with the compassion of the Marist tradition. After 15 years of priestly ministry, he left the Marist Fathers. “The truth is, I’ve always wanted to come back and serve the Church in some way,” he said.
Geoff later married Monica, a fellow New Zealander and now a teacher in the Diocese of Broken Bay. They have two children, Courtney (23) and Charlotte (21).
A proud dad, Geoff’s admiration for his wife of 26 years is also very clear. As we speak, he frequently returns to their shared spirituality and its Marian focus.
In addition to his study of theology, Geoff also holds a tertiary qualification in business administration. In the past 25 years, he has held senior executive positions with Morgan & Banks, TMP Worldwide, Westpac and The Donington Group now known as Sageco.
Geoff said that despite the toughness of the commercial world, he “never stopped exercising the values of the faith”.
When Geoff reflects on his approach to leadership, he speaks about the extraordinary experience of doing a retreat with Jean Vanier, the founder of L’Arche. “I’ve walked with and seen the person of Jesus,” Geoff said of Vanier. (Read more about the Merrylands L’Arche community on Page 11 of this issue of Catholic Outlook.)
He also credits Monica with introducing him to the idea and values of servant leadership, something he will bring to his work in supporting our Diocesan Pastoral Plan, Faith in Our Future.
Geoff believes that the Diocese of Parramatta is the future of the Church. “You’ve only got to look out at the old St Pat’s church incorporated into the new cathedral … Parramatta’s built on that early determination, perseverance and persistence, all those kind of qualities that make a place great.”
It’s great to see that our new Chief of Operations and Finance shares our faith in the future!