By Marilyn Rodrigues and Catherine Sheehan
Catholic school teachers are well placed to change and adapt their schools in “uncertain times” says the new head of Sydney Catholic Schools Tony Farley.
Mr Farley’s induction into his new role takes place during three Masses for the inner west, southern and eastern regions of Sydney Catholic Schools.
At the Eastern Region Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral on February 13 he reminded teachers that despite challenges including institutions such as the Church “at times catastrophically” failing to do what they should, the Church’s traditions and “extraordinary” history is a source of strength that will help its community flourish.
There is every reason to remain optimistic he said, including the systems’ 152 schools “with remarkable colleagues, students, parents and parish communities”.
“I encourage you to make the most of these opportunities and to optimistically embrace the call to change and adapt our schools to new times; to new ways of educating our youth and their families in faith; and to preparing them for the incredible world of work into which they will go,” Mr Farley said.
He paid tribute to his family for the faith they have shared with him. While his parents had imparted a faith that was joyful, enquiring, enduring and strong, “for me, that faith has been sustained and grown by the love of my wife, Vanessa and our three children, Ned, Mathilde and Eloise,” he said.
He reminded teachers that there would be days when, on their journey, they might feel “overwhelmed by a world that is so constantly changing and unpredictable.
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“[There will be] news cycles and political cultures that feed on negativity and conflict.
“And,” he added, “a prevailing culture where image and wealth are most valued and where unsurprisingly, isolation and anxiety are on the rise.
“So where do Sydney Catholic Schools stand in all this? Well the answer is right in front of us. Our … schools thrive and grow to fulfil the needs of new generations.
“We meet children and families where they are and prepare them for a world of constant change and challenge.”
Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP told teachers, principals and other staff members that the “yes” of a Catholic school teacher must be “a whole-person commitment”.
“The passion for teaching and transmitting the faith must be lived with fidelity not just when it’s fashionable, but even when unpopular,” he said. Archbishop Fisher also welcomed and blessed new teachers commencing their careers.
He also expressed his gratitude for the 10 years of service given by outgoing Executive Director, Dr Dan White, who retires at Easter.
During his time as head of SCS, Dr White had a “considerable impact” and played a “pivotal role” in implementing new initiatives, Archbishop Fisher said.
Following his induction, Mr Farley encouraged the new teachers, telling them, “you’re joining 9,000 incredible colleagues, all made in the image and likeness of God, who are succeeding and struggling, sometimes failing and then getting up to learn and grow anew.”
But, he also told them, “make sure you have fun” along the way.