Western Sydney Catholic schools set to flourish in 2023
25 Jan 2023
More than 600 leaders from Catholic schools across Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains gathered in Parramatta today to prepare for the school year.
At the beginning of 2023, these schools became part of Catholic Schools Parramatta Diocese (CSPD). The uplifting gathering had a strong focus on collaboration and supporting children, young people and their families to flourish in Western Sydney.
The CSPD annual System Leaders’ Day began with a beautiful Welcome to Country from recent Aboriginal graduates Shanaya Donovan (Catherine McAuley Westmead), Jumikah Donovan (CathWest Innovation College) and Acknowledgement of Country from Alkira Field (St Agnes Catholic High School Rooty Hill).
Acting Executive Director of Schools Christine Howe OAM welcomed members of the new CSPDL Board including Chair Elizabeth Crouch AM. Christine commented that staff were excited about the leadership and guidance of the new Board, as well as coming together for the first time at the beginning of the school year for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are at a critical point in our journey as a system of Catholic schools,” Christine said.
We are together all contributing to this next exciting stage of our journey as a system.
Reflecting on the teachings of Pope Francis, Diocese of Parramatta Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen spoke of the need for a cultural shift towards “a healthier Church for future generations”.
“We are living in a time that requires a radical shift from the business as usual approach,” Bishop Vincent said. “Just as the Pope calls for a new politics of inclusion in the lives of the systemic inequalities of the world we also need an education that forms young people into men and women of deep empathy, solidarity, communion as opposed to individualism and self interest.”
Bishop Vincent said he was proud of the work already being recognised in the Diocese, particularly the culture of synodality known as the ‘Parramatta Way’. He explained that synodality is a way of being Church doing mission in our Diocese which consists in the active collaboration between clergy and laity, the diversity of membership of governance structures and emphasises accountability, transparency and inclusivity.
“Our Parramatta Catholic system has been outstanding in espousing our values as it has built on the work of many religious and lay people over the decades. We have been known to be at the cutting edge of innovative, inquiry based, technology and above all, Gospel-based education. Ours is a Christ-centred community that fosters not only intellectual growth but just as importantly young people's emotional, spiritual, holistic and spiritual growth.”
He urged leaders to build on the legacy of great Catholic education in Western Sydney and called for creativity and imagination in the task ahead.
Christine Howe then gave a very warm welcome to new Executive Director of Schools Jack de Groot. Jack joins CSPD after a distinguished career of over 20 years leading some of Australia’s largest not-for-profit organisations including as the CEO of the St Vincent de Paul Society NSW and CEO of Caritas Australia.
Jack began by reflecting on the significance of the upcoming referendum on the Indigenous Voice to the Australian Parliament. This included drawing powerful connections between this pressing issue for our nation and CSPD’s work with children, young people and their families locally.
In a stirring and personal address, Jack introduced himself, shared his story and spoke about what is important to him. He emphasised his specific mission in his new role will be focussed on providing support to schools as communities of learning and with a strong focus on Western Sydney aspirations and equity.
“The leadership that I have committed to is crucially one of support to you as you lead your learning communities. We, together, have a shared accountability for the outcomes of this mission of Catholic education in Western Sydney.”
“My work has always taken me to these places and my faith has reinforced that desire to bring change, love and service,” he said. “Western Sydney excites me because it never underestimates the human aspirations and flourishing of its community. It is hungry for access, equity, for all boats to rise.”
He commended the strong record of innovation and aspiration within the Parramatta Diocese, noting the commitment of our teachers and leaders in always wanting more for their students and families.
“Your strengths in innovation of educational programs means the pursuit of excellence is there and needs to be brought to the light of our communities in greater Western Sydney,” he said. “Strengths-based thinking matters to me, it’s core for high performing teams. When we are strengths-based, the appetite is amazing for change.”
The program for the day had a strong focus on strengthening collaboration, leading together, building relationships, equity and inclusion. Canadian education expert and author, Michael Fullan, led a virtual workshop focussed on optimism and humanity in learning as we move into 2023.
In his role as Professor Emeritus at OISE/University of Toronto and the Co-Director of New Pedagogies for Deep Learning (NPDL), Michael has worked closely with Catholic Schools Parramatta Diocese over the years. He built on the words of the Bishop in calling for a move away from the ‘narrow paradigm’ of self interest and individual development to ‘connecting young people to a purpose and identity bigger than themselves.”
This was followed by a practical workshop on Leading High Impact Collaborative Teams from Michael Rafferty, a Partner of EY People Advisory Services and Kathryn Lane, a Senior Consultant in EY Oceania’s Leadership, Culture and Purpose practice.
Prof Br David Hall FMS gave an entertaining keynote address on human flourishing, the importance of humility in leadership and developing the capacity to be bold, to listen and to discern.
The event also featured a small band of Principals and senior staff on guitar and vocals. Sergio Rosato (Bethany Catholic Primary Glenmore Park), Tony Hughes (Christ the King Primary North Rocks), Mary-Anne Stenning (St Monica’s Primary North Parramatta), Paul Stenning (CathWest Innovation College) and Attila Lendvai (Learning Directorate) ended the event with a rousing rendition of We Are Australian.
There is a lot to look forward to in 2023 as Catholic Schools Parramatta Diocese continues to support children and young people to grow in faith and learning across Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains.
03 Feb 2023Choosing a school and don’t know where to start? Download School Selection Made Simple to help you choose a great local learning community to support your child's learning journey.
08 Feb 2023
Say hello to our new school principals for 2023!🤩👋 We're so blessed to have such dedicated and caring leaders joining our lovely school communities this year. 🧑🏫👫 Give this video a watch to hear what they're most excited about, there might even be a few familiar faces.😁
09 Feb 2023
The hugely popular 'Beyond School, What's Next?' event at CathWest Innovation College is on again on Tuesday 28 February!🤩 Don't miss out on the opportunity to have conversations with career experts and explore many different post-school options.🤝🗣 Register via the Google Form link in our bio👉You can also read all about last November's event there too! #cspd2023 #catholicschoolsparramattadiocese #parracatholic #westernsydney #bluemountainsnsw #parramatta #hawkesbury @cathwestinnovation
08 Feb 2023
With the summer school holidays coming to an end, many children are getting ready to head to school for the very first time. Whether it’s feeling proud or a little scared, dropping your child off at school for the first time is guaranteed to bring on a mixed-bag of emotions for every parent.
08 Feb 2023
It's so heart-warming🥰😍🤗 to see students supporting students, especially those new to Kindy or Year 7.😇💕💞 Especially in these first few weeks of the school year, there's always a big focus on all students feeling welcome🤲 and included👋 and that was certainly the case at all our schools including Nagle Catholic College, Blacktown South through their Big Sister program where Year 12 students support new Year 7 students and also through buddy programs such as St Joseph's Primary School Schofields where Year 6 students help our littlest learners.💗💙❤️🖤💛🤍
07 Feb 2023
With more than 20 years of experience leading some of Australia’s largest not-for-profit organisations, Executive Director Jack de Groot is excited to begin a new journey with Catholic Schools Parramatta Diocese (CSPD).😊👏👏 Jack is driven by supporting an education for children and young people that is holistic, student-centred and unashamed about the pursuit of excellence. He is particularly passionate about ensuring access, equity and inclusion across CSPD’s 80 outstanding local schools.😇😇 Read more here: https://www.parra.catholic.edu.au/2023JDG
08 Feb 2023
We know success at school is a predictor for success later in life so it's great to see the topic of school refusal getting more attention. 🗣👏 CSPD Director Wellbeing Dr Greg Elliott added his expert voice to this ABC 7:30 Report looking into this serious issue. 📺😇🤲 Greg explains the measures our schools adopt to support students experiencing school refusal and explains the difference between students who won't go to school and students who can't go to school.👩🏫🤗🥰 #cspd2023 #catholicschoolsparramattadiocese #parracatholic #westernsydney #bluemountainsnsw #parramatta #hawkesbury #schoolwellbeing #schoolrefusal
07 Feb 2023
Today is Safer Internet Day💻📱 - a global event to help create safer online spaces for all.🧑💻👫 The theme for this year is #ConnectReflectProtect where everyone is encouraged to: 👉Connect safely and with purpose – by keeping apps and devices secure and using social media in positive ways. 👉Reflect before we act – by taking a moment to consider how what we do and say online may affect others. 👉Protect ourselves and others by taking action – by telling family, friends or colleagues about eSafety and how we can help. For more information and helpful tips about using the internet safely, visit https://www.esafety.gov.au/
07 Feb 2023
Today is Safer Internet Day, a global event that brings together communities, families, schools and organisations from more than 200 countries to help create safer online spaces. This worldwide initiative is celebrating 20 years in 2023. This year, the day is calling on Australians to Connect. Reflect. Protect. ➤ Connect safely and with purpose – by keeping apps and devices secure and using social media in positive ways. ➤ Reflect before we act – by taking a moment to consider how what we do and say online may affect others. ➤ Protect ourselves and others by taking action – by telling family, friends or colleagues about eSafety and how we can help. For more information on Safer Internet Day, cyberbullying, online safety advice and access to free webinars for parents and carers, see the link in our bio👉 #cspd2023 #catholicschoolsparramattadiocese #parracatholic #westernsydney #bluemountainsnsw #parramatta #hawkesbury #saferinternetday #safterinternetday2023 #cyberbullying #onlinesafety #onlinesafetyforkids @esafetyoffice
07 Feb 2023
With more than 20 years of experience leading some of Australia’s largest not-for-profit organisations, Executive Director Jack de Groot is excited to begin a new journey with Catholic Schools Parramatta Diocese (CPSD).
06 Feb 2023
Children really are the sunshine in our lives.🌞🌞🌞🥰 It's been a magical start to the 2023 school year🥳🥳 as thousands of students return to school with smiles on their faces, a spring in their step🏃♀️🏃♂️ and excitement to learn... helped by so many passionate and caring teachers such as Mr Crawford👨🏫, Year 3 teacher at Trinity C.P.S Kemps Creek. 🎤🎶🎸🙂 Find out more about the beautiful school community at Trinity here: https://www.trinitykempscreek.catholic.edu.au/enrolment/how-to-enrol
07 Feb 2023
We are so excited to see that Matthew Engesser from Gilroy Catholic College Castle Hill and Charles Saul from Marian Catholic College Kenthurst recently won 2022 NSWCCC Blue Awards.👏👏 Matthew is a Multi Class champion cross country runner, who won the 15/16 NSWCCC Cross Country and NSW All Schools Country races and claimed silver at the Nationals. He was also selected into the Australian Cerebral Palsy athletics squad.🏃🏃♂️🤩 Charles has shown amazing resilience and determination to earn representative honours at school, club, state and national level for football. He was even selected for the Australian School Boys Football Team. ⚽️🥅🎖 Huge congratulations to both of these talented young sportsmen.🙌🙌🙌 #cspd2023 #catholicschoolsparramattadiocese #parracatholic #westernsydney #bluemountainsnsw #parramatta #hawkesbury #kenthurst #castlehill @mariancatholiccollege @gilroycathcoll #studentathletes #studentathlete
06 Feb 2023
Very proud of our Director Wellbeing Dr Greg Elliott for lending his expert voice🗣👏 to this ABC 730 Report📺 looking into the serious issue of school refusal.😇🤲 We know success at school is a predictor for success later in life so it's great to see this critical issue get more attention. Greg explains the measures our schools adopt to support students experiencing school refusal and explains the difference between students who won't go to school and students who can't go to school.👩🏫🤗🥰
05 Feb 2023
Who doesn't love dinos?!🦖🦕🥰🤩 As if the new Kindy starters at St Monica's Primary School Richmond weren't excited enough but the sight of a 9News📺 cameraman and journalist🎤 certainly added to the fun, especially for little Tate who keen to keep learning about all things prehistoric.😇 It was such a beautiful morning as St Monica's staff and teachers welcomed their littlest learners. You can find out more about this beautiful local school here: https://www.stmonicasrichmond.catholic.edu.au/enrolment/how-to-enrol
06 Feb 2023
St Columba's Catholic College Springwood student Lachlan Steadman is a teen maths whiz! 🔢➕➗✖️ In Year 7, Lachlan showed such aptitude for mathematics he was already sitting in on Year 11 classes. 🤩😲 Last year, while only in Year 9, he sat the HSC Advanced Mathematics exam and achieved a Band 6!! 🙌🙌🙌🙌 We can't wait to see what more he can achieve in the future. Read his amazing story in the Blue Mountains Gazette at the link in our bio 👉 #cspd2023 #catholicschoolsparramattadiocese #parracatholic #westernsydney #bluemountainsnsw #parramatta #hawkesbury #maths #mathematics #mathsstudent #springwood @columbasdoves
05 Feb 2023
😍And here comes the CUTENESS!🥰There are just so many beautiful photos of the newest Kindergarten students across our schools (this could take a couple of posts!)🏫 Love to see those smiling faces as they get straight into their learning 😊🙌 St Patrick's Guildford Holy Cross Primary Glenwood Christ the King Primary School St Paul the Apostle Primary Winston Hills Our Lady of the Angels Catholic Primary School Rouse Hill Sacred Heart Westmead St Joseph's Primary School St Patrick's Primary School Blacktown