Newsletter 15: 20 November 2018

Dear Colleagues,

Whilst we draw near to Advent, a time of preparation and anticipation for the celebration of Christmas, it is also the conclusion of the 2018 school year. In our Marist school communities across the country people are being rightly recognised and thanked for their work and contributions to the Marist mission of making Jesus known and loved. As members of Marist Schools Australia, it is important to recognise significant leaders among us who will soon be concluding in their roles this December.

After 40 years of dedicated service to Catholic education, Mr Damien Millar will retire from the role of Principal at the end of this year, concluding a most distinguished contribution to school leadership. Notable have been Damien’s roles as Assistant Principal at Saint Thomas’ Boys School Lewisham and St Mary’s Cathedral College Sydney, and as Principal at Champagnat Catholic College Pagewood, Marist College Kogarah, and for the past 10 years as Head of Saint Gregory’s College Campbellton.

Educated at Saint Joseph’s College Hunters Hill, Damien’s familiarity with and commitment to the Marist way of education has been abundantly evident in the manner in which he has worked so successfully with people. Humble, prayerful, down to earth, pragmatic, inspiring, strategic, humorous, understated, firm, fair, thorough, hardworking, and loyal, are all words that are often used to describe Damien. The physical developments alone at Saint Greg’s throughout his time at the College are testimony to his capacity, determination, vision and commitment. Mr Millar has been a transformational educational leader, with students from Saint Gregory’s widely recognised for their wholehearted involvement and outstanding success in academia, public speaking, debating, music, drama, agriculture, and sport.

Brother Darren Burge will conclude his term as Principal at the end of the 2018 school year. Under Brother Darren’s leadership over the last five years, Saint Augustine’s has continued to flourish with high demand for enrolment at the College from families in Cairns, as well as regional and remote areas of Far North Queensland. Facilities have developed significantly and students experience stimulating, modern learning environments of the highest quality. The strong educational outcomes consistently achieved by the students at Saint Augustine’s reflect the tremendous work of the staff, and Brother Darren’s leadership of the learning agenda. Most importantly Brother Darren’s influence in promoting the Faith life and pastoral care of the College community has been exceptional and widely acknowledged among parents, students and staff.

Brother Darren has been a leader within the Marist Brothers in Australia for a significant period. He was a Provincial Councillor in the former Sydney Province and has been a Provincial Councillor in the new Province of Australia since its inception in 2012. Last year he was an organiser of, and delegate to the international Marist Brothers’ General Chapter. From next year Brother Darren will be the Vice Provincial for the Marist Brothers in Australia.

After five years as Principal of Saint Joseph’s School at Northam, Mrs Carmen Cox will commence a new role in 2019 as Principal of St Brigid’s College Lesmurdie. Carmen has led Saint Joseph’s, a P-12 school, with immense skill, passion and commitment, and is widely recognised for her witness and ability to articulate a contemporary expression of faith and practice. The development of strong, positive, Christian relationships between the members of the Saint Joseph’s community and the promotion of a strong academic standard have been at the fore front of Carmen’s leadership and work. Carmen’s active engagement with Marist Schools Australia and the Marist Association of Saint Marcellin Champagnat is greatly appreciated and highly valued. We look forward to Carmen’s continuing contributions as a member of the MSA Regional Council for Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia.

Mr Michael Connolly concludes his term at Mt Maria College Petrie at the end of this academic year, having served 4 years as the Principal. Michael has been appointed to lead St Columban’s College, Caboolture from 2019. In the time Michael has been at Mt Maria, he has earned the deep respect of his staff and the school community. In reflecting on his leadership style, one of his senior staff described his leadership style as progressive, firm yet empathetic. Michael has strengthened Mt Maria’s extraordinary reputation for looking after many young people who need that little extra care and understanding. Although Michael’s experience of Marist education may not be as extensive as some, he has found a natural synergy with his own leadership style. We thank Michael for all he has brought to the community of Mt Maria College Petrie.

We also recognise and thank Mr Glen Bucklar for his leadership and commitment to St Thomas More Primary School at Sunshine Beach. Glen has been Assistant Principal and Acting Principal and actively nurtured Marist life and spirituality over the years. Glen has been a much loved school leader at St Thomas More and has brought energy, vision and commitment to excellence in learning to all his endeavours. Glen has been appointed as the Principal of Siena Catholic Primary School, Sippy Downs and we wish him every success.

Let us keep in our prayers each of these people as they move into new experiences and challenges in 2019.

Sally Dillon