by NZ CATHOLIC staff
The seventh NZ Catholic Education Convention brought together more than 800 delegates, including
visitors from Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Cook Islands, Samoa and Tonga, from June 10 to 12
New Zealand’s Catholic bishops were among those who attended.
The convention is held every three years. Br Sir Patrick Lynch told NZ Catholic that a feature this year was the increased number of priests and school trustees who attended.
Another fact of some significance this year was that it is 40 years since Catholic schools were integrated into the state education system.
Key addresses were given by Professor Therese D’Orsa (Australia) and Dr Gemma Simmonds (United
Kingdom). Both speakers focused on the importance of schools providing an outreach to their wider communities and doing so with tenderness and hope.
Everybody in the Church and school community is called upon to be the face of Christ.
Sir Patrick stated that the ever-flowing exhortations of Pope Francis were frequently referred to,
as he urges Catholics to reach out to those who are non-practising and those at the margins of society.
“Effectively, both speakers provided motivation, inspiration and energy for people working in our
Laureate Awards for outstanding service to Catholic educators were bestowed on Thomas Gerrard,
the recently retired principal of Rosmini College, Takapuna, and Paul Roach, principal of Sts Peter and Paul School in Lower Hutt.
Sir Patrick said the convention Mass was a special event that involved the New Zealand Catholic bishops, including a homily from Bishop Stephen Lowe, with high quality music and hymns.
He said the 80 or so seminars that took place focused on religious education and special character
topics, that were well received by participants.
Sir Patrick said the Catholic education system now has 66,000 students in 238 schools, and an increasing number of adults in tertiary learning programmes.
At the gathering a portal created in partnership with Microsoft was launched to provide religious
education resources and a secure mechanism to encourage members of the Catholic education community to collaborate and share quality resources throughout the country.
The Minister of Education, Hekia Parata, addressed the gathering. “She clearly is highly supportive of Catholic Schools and urged participants to consider joining the Investing for Education Success programme which is being rolled out in the nation’s schools,” Sir Patrick stated.
Subsequent feedback to the NZ Catholic Education Office about the convention had been positive,