As parishioners in the Diocese of Parramatta marked the Feast of Pentecost on Sunday 5 June 2022, a new chapter in the governance of Catholic schools in the Diocese was also being celebrated at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta. The occasion was the commissioning of the inaugural board of Catholic Schools Parramatta Diocese Limited, a new incorporated entity that will take the mission of Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta forward from the beginning of 2023.
The importance of the occasion to the Diocese was noted by Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta in his welcome when he acknowledged the transition from the outgoing Schools Advisory Council to the inaugural board.
“This is a significant milestone in the life of our young Diocese,” he said, “and may the Holy Spirit accompany us as we endeavour to model the way of the Gospel and contribute to the spreading of the way of the Kingdom.”
During the Mass and blessing, Bishop Vincent told the nine board appointees, “Your duty is to build the Kingdom of God and the building of faith in our school communities.” During the blessing, the board-elect promised to serve with Christ-like faith as they oversaw the governance of Catholic school education in the Diocese. Bishop Vincent also assured parishioners of his confidence in the new board members’ significant experience and expertise, as well as their Christ-like service which would help meet the challenges of the future.
The new model follows the recommendations of a 2021 review of the governance of the Diocese of Parramatta with its focus on how the Diocese could become more synodal, allowing a sharing of decision-making between the clergy and laity. Through the new structure, Diocese and Catholic schools will benefit from greater transparency and accountability and the experience of modern-day civil governance practices.
The board will work closely with those responsible for the operations of the Catholic school system in the Diocese, with the intention of ensuring families in Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains continue to have opportunities to grow in faith and learning through their local Catholic school communities.
The appointment of the new board results in the dissolution of the existing Schools Advisory Council which has been served by prominent members of the Catholic community in the Diocese. Bishop Vincent made special mention of the service of this group, thanking them in his homily and throughout the Mass for their service to Catholic education in the Diocese.
The new board members will act as the new Schools Advisory Council for a period of six months, taking up their board positions formally in January 2023. The new company, Catholic Schools Parramatta Diocese Limited, will be a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee, established under the Australian Government Corporations Act (2001) and currently in the process of securing approval from ASIC and the ACNC.
The inaugural board of the new company will be chaired by Elizabeth Crouch AM, who will be joined by eight other acknowledged leaders in their respective fields. They are expected to provide a strong knowledge base to guide and oversee the system of over 80 Catholic schools in Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains educating over 43,000 children.
Members of the inaugural Catholic Schools Parramatta Diocese Ltd board include:
- Elizabeth Crouch AM, Chair
- Greg Jones
- Anthony Karam
- Emeritus Professor Marea Nicholson AM
- Nicole Patterson
- Maria Pearson
- John Vassallo
- Sue Walsh
- Hon John Watkins AM
More information about the board members and the new company will be released towards the end of 2022, closer to when the new board and company come into effect in January 2023.
See photos from the Commissioning Mass below.