Mission and Pastoral Team

Chris HS 200
Dr Chris Cotter

Director of Mission and Pastoral Life

As Director of Mission and Pastoral Life, Chris leads the Mission and Pastoral Life Team to facilitate the missionary orientation of diocesan pastoral life.

Chris has experience as a teacher, leader and administrator in schools and system offices, including Assistant Director of Schools in the Diocese of Wagga Wagga. He has also worked from the Redemptorists Province of Oceania as a mission consultant.

Chris has tertiary qualifications in teaching, theology and religious education, most recently completing a Doctor of Theology through the University of Divinity, Melbourne. Chris says he has a strong interest in “the contribution of practical theology to the re-imagination of the evangelising mission of the Australian Catholic Church in a changing social and cultural milieu,” His work in the Diocese of Sandhurst, we hope, will provide Chris to find ways to implement this re-imagining.

Chris, who was raised in Tamworth, has been based (mostly) in Wodonga for the last 20 years with his wife Julie and two daughters. As Director of Mission and Pastoral Life, Chris is based at the Chancery in Bendigo. 

Leslie HS2 200
Leslie Cooper

Executive Assistant to the Director of Mission and Pastoral Life 

As the Executive Assistant to the Director of Mission and Pastoral Life, Leslie supports project and administrative services for the implementation of Diocesan events and the activities of consultative structures. These include Sandhurst Mission and Pastoral Council meetings and events; Ministry Network meetings and retreats; the Parish Visitation Program; Sandhurst Youth Ministry Reference Group meetings and events;joint Catholic Education and Chancery Office staff days; Ministry formation seminars; Chancery reflection days; Sandhurst Diocesan Assemblies and other events and activities.

Leslie maintains documentation regarding the certification of Spiritual Directors and Ministry Supervisors within the Diocese; provides communication to the Adult Faith Education community and RCIA practitioners within the Diocese; and provides administrative support for the Parish Visitation Program, enhancing relationships between the Chancery and parishes. 

Leslie has experience as a business leader in retail and supply chain management, including as a District Manager in the pet industry for 20 years and then as a Distribution Manager at United Parcel Service.

Leslie’s tertiary qualifications include bachelor and master degrees in forensic psychology from Southern New Hampshire University in the United States.

T: 0474 542 363 E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Katrina HS 200
Katrina Strong

Communications Coordinator 

Katrina is the editor of Sandpiper e-News; and is responsible for managing the diocesan website; social media nd public relations. She enjoys facilitating the sharing of stories and wants more people to contribute to the story of the Diocese through our media channels.

They might not know it themselves, but there are so many inspiring people doing wonderful work across our Diocese, building the story of who we are. When we share our stories with each other, we inspire others to bring our faith and values to life, and foster dynamic, open and missionary parish communities in which people feel part of the bigger picture. The more bylines in Sandpiper e-News the better.

Katrina strongly encourages you to share your stories and looks forward to working with you – one line in an email, or one phone call, is all it takes to get started.

M: 0419 015 696 E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Kerry 200
Kerry Stone
Coordinator: Caritas Australia / Social and Ecological Justice 

Kerry’s work includes promotion, education, and campaigning on a broad range of justice issues supported by resources from Caritas Australia including Catholic Earthcare, the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, the Migrant and Refugee Office and Aboriginal Catholic Ministry. This is a voluntary position Kerry has developed over the past thirty years.

Kerry’s passionate belief in the centrality of Justice to living the Gospel has led her to develop and resource a network of parish justice representatives; to present adult and student workshops on Catholic Social Teaching and Global Justice; run annual Just Leadership Days for students across the Diocese; collaborate with Catholic Education Sandhurst, to establish an annual Justice Matters Camp for secondary students; and, convene the Sandhurst Care for Creation Team which is working to promote the Laudato Si’ Goals across all parishes and schools in the Diocese.

At national level, Kerry is National Coordinator for Earthcare’s Parish/Diocese Community and coordinates the Vic/Tas Earthcare Network.

To contact Kerry phone Reception on Tel: 03 5445 3600 

 MaryPianta website 200
Mary Pianta 
Disability Contact Coordinator

Mary's ongoing interest and willingness to care for the wellbeing of others caused her to volunteer for this position. Mary enjoys fitting the needs of her family and friends around her diocesan work as she develops a network of contacts – a person in each parish willing to be a link on behalf of the Parish Priest.

Mary has over 50 years of teaching experience from primary, through secondary and, finally, tertiary levels. She specialised in helping students with learning difficulties; she was committed to volunteering at family camps in Harrietville, run by CEO for families of children living with a disability within our Diocese. Her last ten years were at TAFE, teaching English as a Second Language to refugees and migrants in Bendigo and Shepparton areas.

Mary has a love of music and singing, knitting and sewing, reading and research, involvement in parish life, and playing Bingo. She thoroughly enjoys her other volunteer positions as proofreader for the diocesan SandPiper e-News, and as an usher at local theatres where she frequently catches up with old friends and colleagues.

Currently, Mary is involved in meeting and encouraging her parish contacts to reach out to parishioners, learn more about their needs, and ensure that those living with a disability feel welcome and included in parish activities. She regularly writes Bulletin notices, hoping to raise awareness of the many disabilities seen throughout the Diocese. In SandPiper, Mary has written articles about disabilities and Paralympics or included program details for opportunities to participate in seminars or support networks.

Her pressing goal is to create and easy-to-use page on the diocesan website – a facility for up-to-date communication; arranging network meetings/Zoom sessions; asking and answering questions; and establishing relationships with other parishes. Mary is looking forward to the launch of this facility.

To contact Mary phone Reception on Tel: 03 5445 3600.