Sandpiper: May - July 2020

JULY 2020 | SANDP I PER 2 A Word from the Bishop IN response to the new requirements for incorporation of not-for-profit entities involved with children, last December I established a Catholic Schools Governance Working Party to review and enhance the governance processes and structures for Catholic education in our diocese. I believe that this is a valuable opportunity for our diocese to develop a truly collaborative governance model that draws on contemporary insights into good governance, adapting them to our particular situation, so as to serve the communities of our parish schools long into the future. Over the months since then, there have been extensive discussions and consultation with all stakeholders, as well as external experts. This consultation has made clear the great strengths of our parish schools, and has shown the commitment of our communities and staff to strengthening our schools’ contribution to the work of evangelisation entrusted to the Church by Jesus, who came ‘that they may have life, and have it to the full’ (John 10:10). I have been particularly impressed by the Working Party’s insistence that our primary consideration must be ‘the spiritual formation and educational achievement of every child entrusted to Catholic education in the Diocese of Sandhurst.’ I have also been encouraged by the clear desire of all stakeholders for any change in governance to be in the context of our schools continuing to be an integral part of the life and ministry of our parishes. The Working Party has now presented its recommendations, setting out a Model for Incorporation of Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Sandhurst. This recommendation has been developed after rigorous comparison of seven main options, and after careful consideration of case studies from around Australia. While no model could perfectly satisfy each of the criteria and principles that the Working Party adopted, I am confident that the model that has been recommended is a robust framework that will serve our schools well, and that it is the best available way of providing a solid foundation for them. Having carefully considered the report of the Working Party, I have accepted its recommendation of ‘incorporating all parish schools into one integrated diocesan system under the auspices of the Diocese of Sandhurst.’ I have now commissioned the Working Party to commence phase two of its task: Mapping a clear Incorporation and School Governance Implementation Plan. While this change will result in school governance moving to a diocesan structure, our schools will remain integrated into the ministry and life of parishes. Therefore, alongside the various legal, regulatory and administrative requirements of this next phase, two key tasks will directly involve parishes: 1. Developing mechanisms to ensure that the relationship between priests, parish communities and schools is preserved and honoured into the future. 2. Drawing up an appropriate agreement for schools to continue operating on parish property. I thank the Working Party and the many members of our school and parish communities who have contributed to the various consultations undertaken so far. I appreciate the effort this has required, alongside the enormous demands of adapting to remote learning and the restrictions arising from COVID-19. I look forward to the next phase of our work towards implementing this new governance model for our schools. I am confident that it will provide a solid foundation for the education and formation in faith of the children in our schools for many years to come. BISHOP SHANE MACKINLAY