On 1 March, 188 staff from Catholic Education Diocese of Wollongong schools and the Macarthur and Wollongong Head Offices gathered at Villa D’Oro for the organisation’s annual Welcome Dinner.
Appointed to leadership, teaching and support roles, new staff attended together with their principals and managers, 40 of these staff being first year early career teachers.
On their arrival, new staff were asked to mark the location of their school on a Diocesan map, giving an awareness of the diversity and geography across the Wollongong Catholic school system.
Head of Human Resource Services, Ms Carolyn Hadley, welcomed guests to the evening with a significant acknowledgment to the newly ordained Bishop of Wollongong, Brian Mascord. Ms Hadley expressed that in becoming a teacher new staff are joining a community dedicated to giving young people the best education possible “It is a responsibility and a privilege to work with our students as they grow and learn.”
Bishop Mascord spoke sincerely to guests, letting them know how much he was looking forward to meeting each of them. Bishop Mascord connected to guests through his first-hand experience of the classroom, as a former teacher, and shared how he understood how they might be feeling as he too is beginning a new phase of his life, as Bishop.
Bishop Brian called staff to be people of God and to take up a continued openness to God’s call and the newness of what this involves, “Listen to God in the people who call you out of your comfort zone, into something different and wonderful.” Bishop Mascord wished staff every blessing as they commenced their lives together with him and continue to build the Kingdom of God present in the Diocese of Wollongong.
The Director of Schools, Mr Peter Turner, also offered a special welcome to Bishop Brian expressing that the Catholic education community stands ready to support him, encourage him and to be a vehicle for bringing to life his hopes for the people of the Diocese.
Mr Turner spoke of a fundamental call for the schools of the Diocese “Like never before, our young people need teachers and advocates who are women and men of hope, enthusiasm and life, who commit to the Good News message of the Gospels and in doing so, they believe in that message themselves.”
In the words of Pope Francis, Mr Turner asked new staff to be “Men and women with others and for others.” He invited staff to keep the ‘WHY’ at the heart of their work. He further asked staff to commit to a learning culture of high expectation, motivation and challenge, and to seek to model the values of integrity, compassion, justice and hope.
A lucky door prize saw two early career teachers as fortunate recipients of new iPads, donated by MAC1 and The School Locker.
Ms Hadley concluded the evening wishing staff much success thanking them for “Accepting the invitation to be with us, partners in this work of Catholic education."