50 Years Together: leaders past and present reflect on Catholic education milestone

On Friday evening, 21 May 2021, CEWA dignitaries and guests came together for a formal dinner to celebrate and reflect upon the last fifty years in the life of Catholic education in our state.

In 1971, the Bishops of Western Australia brought together Catholic schools across their four Dioceses into one State-wide system with the establishment of the Catholic Education Commission of Western Australia.  The 50th anniversary is celebrated alongside the 200th anniversary of Catholic education in Australia.

National Catholic Education Commission Executive Director, Jacinta Collins (left) and Catholic Education Commission of Western Australia (CECWA) Chair and Bishop of Bunbury, the Most Reverend Gerard Holohan (right) address guests at a dinner celebrating 50 years since the establishment of the CECWA on 21 May, 2021 at the Catholic Education Centre in Leederville.

Former Director of Catholic Education WA, Therese Temby, was the Guest Speaker with proceedings including the launch of the official 50 Years Together artwork commissioned by the Catholic Education Commission of Western Australia in 2021.  Kevin Bynder, a Whadjuk-Yuet-Ballardong artist, created a visual representation of the unification of Catholic schools across our vast State through one education system.

This artwork was recreated in stained glass by Kim Fitzpatrick and will be installed in the entrance of the Catholic Education Office in Leederville, where it speaks to the story of Catholic education in Western Australia with staff and visitors.

Former CEWA Director Ron Dullard, former CECWA Chair Rev Mgr Michael Keating DCL, CEWA Executive Director Dr Debra Sayce, CECWA Chair and Bishop of Bunbury the Most Rev Gerard Holohan, former CEWA Director Therese Temby, and former CECWA Chair and CEWA Director Dr Peter Tannock AM, at the unveiling of an artwork commemorating 50 years of the Catholic Education WA system on 21 May 2021, at the Catholic Education Centre in Leederville. The painting, by Whadjuk-Yuet-Ballardong artist Kevin Bynder, was recreated in stained glass by Kim Fitzpatrick and will be installed at the Catholic Education Centre.

“The establishment of Catholic Education Western Australia,  with an increasingly important role played by the Commission and office staff supporting schools, has had immense benefits for dealings with government, for the standards of teaching and learning, the level of collaboration between schools, and it has supported a commitment to the affordability and accessibility of Catholic education, enabling the offer of a Catholic education to marginalised members and segments of the broader WA community,” CEWA Executive Director Dr Debra Sayce said.

“A very special aspect of Catholic education is that we are part of the global Church. Our students benefit from learning and growing in this reality, with opportunities to experience community in prayer, liturgical traditions, learning connections and social justice action”, she said.

“We recognise our commonality with Catholic schools around the world, and in 2021 we join with the national Catholic education community to mark 200 years of Catholic education in Australia. 200 years on, we are an integral part of the education landscape in each state and territory, and Catholic schools are important hubs of learning and faith formation for many metropolitan, regional and remote communities”.

Former CEWA Director, Therese Temby addresses guests (left), and WA Minister for Education and Training, the Hon Sue Ellery talks with Archbishop of Perth, the Most Rev Timothy Costelloe (right), at a dinner celebrating 50 years since the establishment of the CECWA on 21 May, 2021 at the Catholic Education Centre in Leederville.

Dr Sayce acknowledged the past few years have seen many Catholic school communities grow, especially in areas of the state with increasing populations, as thousands of families continue to choose a Catholic education for their children.

“I continue to be humbled by what I witness occurring each day in our schools.  In considering the very real and present suffering, uncertainty and adversity facing our world today, our schools are far more than places of learning.  They are places where our Gospel values are alive and well.  They are places of love, of joy, of refuge and of hope”, she said.

Dr Sayce also acknowledged the Honourable Sue Ellery, Minister for Education, affirming CEWA’s appreciation to the Premier and his leadership team for supporting all schools in Western Australia through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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