by ROWENA OREJANA
New knight and De La Salle Brother Sir Patrick Lynch believes his New Year’s honour is a recognition
of the contribution of Catholic and other integrated schools to the wellbeing of New Zealand.
Sir Patrick, who is chief executive of the New Zealand Catholic Education Office, was made a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to education.
“At a time when we look at what’s happening in France and we look at what’s happening in Nigeria
and other places where terrorism is rife, it’s important that we are able to show the world that no matter what our difference is, we have a fundamental understanding that we’re all God’s children, irrespective of how we interact with our God,” he said.
Over the years, the NZCEO has worked with a broad spectrum of schools, which include Montessori,
Rudolf Steiner, Muslim, Hare Krishna, mainstream Protestant and Jewish schools.
Brother Sir Patrick, who has been with the NZ Catholic Education Office for the last 21 years and
has worked in the education sector since 1976, said it is also a recognition that the Catholic education system has come of age after 40 years of integration.
“It’s been a monumental effort by a lot of people for a long period of time to reach a point where we
can say we contribute substantially to the wellbeing of New Zealand,” he said.
“We can hold our head high with our parents and our teachers and our boards of trustees, bishops and
The Wellington based educator was in Auckland when the announcement was made. “That’s where all my family is and that’s where the brothers’ community is and so, I was very lucky they were able to
be a part of what was a very overwhelming sort of day,” he said.
He is still trying to get used to the new title.
“The way the Governor General is putting it is Brother Sir Patrick Lynch. It’s taking me a little bit of time to accustom myself to something different anyway. It’s all good fun,” he said.
Brother Sir Patrick said the experience was “very humbling and very honouring”.
“It was nice to hear from all the bishops and there’s so many wonderful people that I’ve worked
with over 21 years since I’ve been in the office,” he said.
Brother Sir Patrick said he would still like to see the percentage of Catholic children in Catholic
schools to go up from the present 78 per cent to about 85-90 per cent.
He added that is important to increase the number of Catholic schools, especially secondary
“It’s very important that Catholic people have access to Catholic schools because in many ways that’s their first experience of the Catholic Church,” he explained.
He also stressed the importance of the Catholic character of the schools.
“It’s important that we have Catholic schools that are unabashedly Catholic in the way they deliver
the education which parents seek,” he said.
Brother Sir Patrick said to increase access to Catholic education, the NZCEO will be taking advantage
of digital technology and linking all Catholic schools within the first half of the year.
The new knight was made a Companion of the Queen’s Service Order in 1991.
• Queen’s Service Medal recipients included husband and wife Oscar and Miriam Batucan for their
services to the Filipino community and Helena Wanda Ellis for her services to the Polish community.
by ROWENA OREJANA