RAY COLLINS: Welcome to 2016

Welcome back to the commencement of what will surely be another busy yet exciting year.

I trust that for most of you the holiday break has been an opportunity to relax and enjoy all the blessings of the Christmas period.

Sadly, for a number of our school families, death and serious illness have impacted on them over the break and we extend to those affected our deepest sympathies and ongoing prayers for those who face serious illness in the months ahead.

2016 will be a significant year in the life of our diocese and our school system with Pope Francis’s declaration of this year as the Year of Mercy and the celebration of the 150 years since the arrival of the first resident Bishop of Maitland, Bishop James Murray. Bishop Murray wasted no time in establishing education as one of the core elements of his diocese and our current system of Catholic schools owes much to his visionary leadership and to the many Religious Orders he attracted to the diocese. The history of the Catholic Church in Australia is reflected in the growth of the Diocese of Maitland over these 150 years and now, as the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, we continue the challenge of providing a quality Catholic education to those in our schools.

2016 will be a year in which we further many of the initiatives of 2015 as well as planning for our next Strategic Plan incorporating the years 2017-2019.

One of the continuing initiatives will be the implementation of the recommendations of the Study into the Provision of Catholic Education in the diocese. This is an exciting time for the diocese as we undertake a blueprint for the expansion of our Secondary school system as we celebrate the vision that Bishop Murray had for the education of the young people of the diocese.

We welcome to our schools this year a number of new Principals who will guide their schools in the years ahead.

A special welcome goes to Mrs Maryanne Finder who has come from the Archdiocese of Brisbane to take on the role of Principal of St Catherine’s Catholic College, K-12 at Singleton. Maryanne is an experienced principal who will bring the benefit of her work in both Queensland and previously in the Diocese of Parramatta to our diocese.

Other principals taking on new schools include Mr Peter Treloar who moves from St Patrick’s Primary School, Lochinvar to St Joseph’s Primary School, Merewether, Mrs Jacquie Wilkinson who will undertake her first principalship at St Patrick’s Lochinvar, Ms Julie Mulhearn who will also be a first time principal at Corpus Christi Primary School, Waratah, Mr Chris Fanning beginning as principal at St Mary’s Primary School, Warners Bay and Mrs Veronica McLoughlin who begins her role as a principal at St Dominic’s Centre, Mayfield.

Mr Phil Tobin and Mr Scott Donohue will be undertaking Acting Principal positions at All Saints College, St Mary’s Campus, Maitland and San Clemente High School, Mayfield throughout 2016.

We welcome all the above to these important roles in our school system.

To all of our staff, students and families involved in Catholic Education, I wish you a very warm welcome back and look forward to working with you during 2016 to advance the mission of Catholic Education at this significant time in our history.

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Ray Collins

Ray Collins is the Director of Schools within the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle. He is an authority on education issues.

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