Catholic school leaders were front and centre at the 2023 Annual Archdiocesan Celebration of Principalship held on Thursday 23 November. Beginning with Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral, celebrated by Archbishop Peter A Comensoli, and followed by dinner at the Park Hyatt Hotel, the annual event is a way to bring together the leaders of Melbourne’s Catholic schools and recognise their commitment to the educational and spiritual growth of students in Catholic schools.

‘I am encouraged by the tangible examples of faith, hope and love—the virtues that form the centre-ground to our MACS 2030 strategy—that I see and hear in staffrooms and classrooms in schools across each of the regions, and with colleagues across our MACS office sites’, said Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools (MACS) Executive Director Dr Edward Simons.

‘Working in solidarity as Catholic education leaders across the Archdiocese will be one way that we face into the headwinds that blow—and can also enable each of us to forge professional networks of learning and understanding that, in turn, can strengthen best practice in every Catholic classroom.’

In his homily, Archbishop Comensoli drew on the words of the Prophet Isaiah, and likened the role of principals to that of ‘evangelists’, entrusted with the task of ‘building and forming the future generations of our society’.

‘The rebuilding of God’s People, symbolised in the re-founding of Jerusalem after their Babylonian exile, is, I think, analogous to the task of education,’ he said.

‘Is not the work of educating our children and young people precisely a task of building, of forming them into adults who might contribute to society and the renewal of our culture?’

‘Yes, families, especially parents hold a privileged place in this task, yet schooling is our necessary and much needed mechanism through which the work of educating the young is undertaken. And you are at the head of this task.’

Is not the work of educating our children and young people precisely a task of building, of forming them into adults who might contribute to society and the renewal of our culture?
2023 Annual Archdiocesan Celebration of Principalship. Photo supplied.

As well as recognising those celebrating 20 years of principalship, the following leaving principals were thanked for their contribution to principalship in the Archdiocese of Melbourne. While many will be looking forward to a well-earned retirement, some are continuing their careers at the MACS office or in schools and organisations in other dioceses:

  • Trish Armstrong: Lumen Christi School, Point Cook (2000–2023)
  • Terry Blizzard: St Mary’s College Melbourne, St Kilda East (2020–2023)
  • David Delaney: St Thomas the Apostle School, Greensborough North (2018–2023), Holy Name School, Preston East (2009–2017) and St Pius X School, Heidelberg West (2005–2008)
  • Kate Fogarty: Assumption College, Kilmore (2015–2023)
  • Darren Gibbons: Queen of Peace Primary School, Altona Meadows (2018–2023)
  • Patrick Green: Our Lady Help of Christians School, Eltham (2021–2023) and St Dominic’s School, Camberwell East (2015–2021)
  • Peter Hayes: St Brendan’s School, Flemington (2009–2023) and Our Lady of Mount Carmel School, Sunbury (1997–2008)
  • Paul Hogan: St Mary’s School, Ascot Vale (2016–2022) and Our Lady of Mount Carmel School, Sunbury (2009–2016)
  • Craig Holmes: Thomas Carr College, Tarneit (2019–2022) and Sacred Heart College, Kyneton (2011–2018)
  • Ruth Jones: Good Shepherd School, Wheelers Hill (1995–2023)
  • Rory Kennedy: MacKillop Catholic Regional College, Werribee (1996–2023)
  • Kathy Lowe: St Bernadette’s School, Ivanhoe West (2005–2022)
  • Stephen Lucardie: Corpus Christi School, Glenroy (1995–2023)
  • Carmel Marantelli: St Catherine of Siena School, Melton West (2011–2023)
  • Maree Morris: St Brigid’s School, Gisborne (2018–2023)
  • Tim Noonan: St Patrick’s School, Mentone (2014–2023) and Christ Our Holy Redeemer School, Oakleigh East (2005–2011)
  • Ray Pisani: Marian College, Sunshine West (2007–2023)
  • Christopher Reed: Mother Teresa School, Mount Ridley (2009–2023) and St Mark’s School, Fawkner (2002–2008)
  • Marita Richardson: St Joseph’s School, Mernda (2014–2023)
  • Peter Riordan: Simonds Catholic College, West Melbourne (2013–2023)
  • Shelley Ryan: St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, Werribee (2021–2023)
  • Ben Shields: St Mary’s School, Castlemaine (2020–2022)
  • Linda Tarraran: St Peter’s School, Keilor East (2009–2023) and St Brendan’s School, Flemington (2005–2008)
  • Francine Walsh: Our Lady of Lourdes School, Prahran East (2013–2023).
2023 Annual Archdiocesan Celebration of Principalship. Photo supplied.

The night also paid tribute to three principals who had recently passed away and thanked each of them for their significant dedication to Catholic education:

  • Meredith Bennett: St Michael’s School, Ashburton (2020–2022) and St Benedict’s School, Burwood (2017–2019)
  • Bob Brown: St Matthew’s School, Fawkner North (2014–2023) and Good Samaritan Catholic Primary School, Roxburgh Park (1996–2013)
  • Jim Sheedy: St George Preca School, Caroline Springs (2018–2022), St Mary’s School, Williamstown (2008–2018), Holy Spirit Parish School, Manifold Heights (2004–2008) and St Peter’s School, Sunshine South West (1985–1989).

Rosemary Copeland, Chair of the Catholic Religious Institute and Ministerial Public Juridic Person Victorian Schools Ltd (CRMV), spoke of the role of Catholic school leaders; Shelley Ryan, former Principal of St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, Werribee, thanked Archbishop Comensoli; and Ray Pisani, outgoing Principal of Marian College, Sunshine West, delivered an address on behalf of all leaving principals.

‘You have been at the forefront of developing, building and nurturing relationships, and creating a sense of belonging and shared values among students, parents, families and staff,’ said Ray. ‘It is indeed a privilege for us to foster a supportive and caring environment for all our communities, where all their needs are given attention.’

Students also contributed to the celebrations, with altar servers from Simonds Catholic College, West Melbourne, and choir members from Mazenod College, Mulgrave. The band from Aquinas College, Ringwood, and soloist Nathaniel Mainque from MacKillop Catholic Regional College, Werribee, also added to the evening.

2023 Annual Archdiocesan Celebration of Principalship. Photo supplied.