Executive Director's Message - 2 March 2021


​​The BCE launch of 200 years of Catholic education at St Mary's Church, Ipswich.

Last Friday we celebrated the Brisbane Catholic Education launch of 200 Years of Catholic education with a liturgy, led by Bishop Ken Howell at St Mary’s Church in Ipswich. We express our gratitude to Ipswich Parish Priest Franciscan Fr Stephen Bliss, the Ipswich Catholic Community, and the parish and school staff for hosting the launch at St Mary’s.

St Mary’s Church was selected as our venue for the launch as the neighbouring St Mary’s College, which o
pened in 1863, is our oldest BCE Catholic school. St Mary’s College is rightly proud of its rich history and quite a few well-known Queenslanders are graduates of this school – including our Premier, Annastascia Palaczszuk.

s I participated in the liturgy, I couldn’t help but reflect on the thousands of students who attended our Catholic schools over those two centuries. What a difference we have made in the world. I also recalled with appreciation those early pioneers of Catholic education. We stand on the shoulders of all who have gone before us. We owe them a great debt of gratitude. Those early pioneers of Catholic education – the religious women and men and priests – had a vision and the courage to realise that vision to serve communities across Australia.

Those early days were tough.

They took risks and they went not only to the fledgling cities, but were also pioneers in the rural and remote areas so families, regardless of where they lived, could choose a Catholic education for their children. Along with the contribution of the religious, in our parish schools, generations of parishioners worked with their parish priest to establish Catholic schools, realised today in more than 1,750 Catholic school communities across Australia, educating around 770,000 students with nearly 100,000 staff.

hat a remarkable achievement.

Mary MacKillop wrote of Catholic education in 1891 - 
Little did either of us then dream of what was to spring from so small a beginning. What would Mary be thinking of our achievements today? What a great inspiration she continues to be to Catholic education.

 On Monday, 8 March we will be celebrating International Women’s Day.

I am fortunate to have been supported and mentored by many amazing women. This started from a very young age as the influence of the Presentation Sisters while I was at St Elizabeth’s School and the Sisters of St Joseph at Our Lady’s College had a profound impact on me during those formative years. They taught us that if we worked hard and put our mind to it, we could do achieve, in the words of Our Lady’s school song, 
Ad Altiora - ever higher. My parents placed a great importance on education and I remain grateful for and humbled by the opportunities that have been afforded to me over these past four decades.

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is 
#ChoosetoChallenge and BCE and the University of Queensland are empowering 25 aspiring female leaders in 2021, through a BCE Breakthrough to Princip​alship program. Currently 1 in 3 primary principals and 1 in 5 secondary principals are women. This program has been developed to encourage and support more of our wonderful women in leadership to seek to lead our schools into the future.

I would like to finish by sharing the prayer by Bishop Ken at the 200 years launch, it is one we can take with us throughout 2021 as we look forward, with faith in the future.

Lord, God of Dreaming, We acknowledge and honour all those who have walked before us.

Whose love has moulded our present, and fills our future with promise.

Lord, God of the Now, We give thanks for all those Whose gifts of today water seeds that will bear fruit tomorrow.

Lord, God of New Horizons We bless generations yet to come, whose dreams will continue to enrich our story.

As we gather, celebrating 200 years of Catholic Education in Australia,

May we live, love and reach out with faith in the future.

Wishing you all the best.


Pam​ Betts

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