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Thursday 20 February, 2020

Parish Priests, Principals, School Board Chairs and Catholic Education Office staff gathered in Shepparton this week for the annual two day Leadership Conference. 

More than one hundred leaders attended the event, which commenced on Tuesday evening, February 18, with a Commissioning Eucharist at St Mel’s Church in Shepparton. Bishop Shane Mackinlay presided at the Eucharist, together with diocesan Priests including the Episcopal Vicar for Education, Very Rev Dr Brian Boyle.


The Commissioning Mass acknowledged newly appointed school Principals, including Principal of St Augustine’s College Kyabram, Brayden Stone and Principal of Sacred Heart Primary, Corryong, Zoe Nugent. An official blessing was also given to Sue Carroll, the Acting Principal of St Anne’s College Kialla as she leads her school community over the next 12 months. A commitment ceremony also took place for new School Board Chairpersons, acknowledging the important role that they play in the life of their school communities. Each new school Principal and School Board Chair was presented with an inscribed bible during the ceremony.

A Conference dinner was held at the Woolshed in Kialla following the Mass. Bishop Shane Mackinlay delivered the Monsignor Peter Jeffrey Oration during the evening. He spoke about the Catholic Education Theme, ‘Listen to what the Spirit is saying’, with a focus on the work of the plenary council.  The ‘Monsignor Peter Jeffrey Oration’ was established in 2013 in honour of well-loved Monsignor on the occasion of his Golden Jubilee. Monsignor Peter Jeffrey is currently Parish Priest of St Mary’s Parish, Mooroopna.

Keynote presenter Rev Dr Brendan Reed facilitated the conference forum on day two. Once again, the Plenary Council was the focus of the day, with four sessions devoted to the journey of the Plenary Council in Australia in a Sandhurst context.

In the Sandhurst diocese, there were 4,285 total respondents to the Plenary Council and 305 submissions that included 102 groups and 203 individuals.  The discussion centred on the period of discernment during the plenary process and how we can be a Church that is Christ centred.

Cathy Jenkins, Assistant to the Director: Leadership Development, co facilitated the day. Cathy’s prior role in the Arch Diocese of Melbourne was coordinating the process for animating the Plenary Council in parishes and schools.

The annual Leadership gathering provides an opportunity for those who provide leadership across the diocese to share their wisdom and to acknowledge the important contribution that each person makes in their individual communities across the Sandhurst Diocese. It is also an opportunity to hear from expert speakers about a range of topics including the important conversations that continue to take place around the plenary council.

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