by ROWENA OREJANA
De la Salle Brother Sir Patrick Lynch, chief executive of the New Zealand Catholic Education Office, will step down from his role by the middle of the year, according to the office’s chairman of the board of directors, Geoffrey Ricketts.
The announcement was made early to give the bishops and the board time to search for a suitable replacement.
Brother Sir Patrick was made a Knight Companion of the Order of Merit in the 2015 New Year’s Honours, for Services to Education over 50 years.
“Br Patrick has had an illustrious career in New Zealand education, not only in the integrated schools sector but also within the wider educational environment, both nationally and internationally. This continuing wide ranging achievement has now been officially recognised with his most recent honour,” said Mr Ricketts.
Brother Sir Patrick said that after having served in this capacity for a generation, it was time to pass the ball to someone with fresher ideas.
“I think our Catholic schools are in pretty good shape and mainly because people who make it work have real confidence in what they’re doing. So it’s time to pass the ball on to somebody else and to enable the system to grow and develop further so that we can really do the job that our bishops and proprietors want us to do,” he said.
In his 21 years as NZCEO chief executive officer, Brother Sir Patrick saw schools gain a “palpable confidence to deliver quality Catholic education”.
“We now have an identity as a national Catholic system of schools,” he said.
He stressed that this identity was developed collectively by people on the ground. “I just happened to be a part of that,” he said.
Brother Sir Patrick added that the annual conventions brought bishops, trustees, principals and teachers together so that they have a great understanding that “we are all in this
together”.
He said another achievement during his term, one which he considers rather pivotal, is the fact that there is now a national system in place to review and develop special character.
“That means we can monitor up and down the country and we can benchmark off one another what good special character practice looks like,” he explained.
He said this had often been a point raised by education ministers he had to deal with over the years.
“I’ve had several education ministers say to me, ‘If you’re schools are not Catholic, why should we fund them?’,” Brother Sir Patrick said. “They won’t say that now because I know the system we have got in place actually is a good system, and it’s complementary to that
of the Education Review Office.”
Brother Sir Patrick expressed his gratitude to the bishops for giving him the position. “I’m immensely grateful to Cardinal Tom Williams who, on behalf of the bishops in 1993, persuaded me to take the job. And I was in two minds about it but I’m glad that I did because it has been a real enriching life experience,” he said.
He also thanked everyone who he worked with in the course of his career, saying that he “leaves the role with a great deal of admiration for those in the sector who have enabled Catholic and other integrated schools to become confident in themselves and well thought of
by the wider New Zealand community”.
Before this post, he was principal of De La Salle College, Auckland, for 16 years, during the last three of which he was the president of the Secondary Principals Association of New Zealand (SPANZ). He was awarded a New Zealand 1990 Commemorative Medal and in 1991 he was awarded a QSO.
Mr Ricketts said applications to replace Brother Patrick will now be sought by the Board of the New Zealand Catholic Education Office.

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