Executive Director’s Report: May 2023

30 April 2024 by


The recent meeting of the Chairs and Executive Officers of Catholic Religious Australia, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and AMPJP was very positive. AMPJP was able to share our improving working relationship with Australian Catholic Safeguarding Ltd and our events website.  We all discussed the frustrating situation with the Australian Plenary Council’s outcomes likely not being ratified by Rome until after the Synod, along with the ACBC’s new Code of Conduct, Integrity In Our Common Mission, which may have impacts on Religious Institute and MPJP ministries. Fr Chris de Souza, the General Secretary of the Bishops Conference, asked that all of our ministries consider what events might be held in celebration of the 2025 Jubilee year.

I attended the ACU Xavier Centre Advisory Board and was updated on the latest formation programs they are delivering.  These really are excellent and support every ministry in the Church. Some were unknown to me and I was very happy to include these at ampjp.org.au/events and our fyi newsletter, which goes out weekly with the latest updates. This events section of our website is the only collation of events of this type in Australia and while still a trial, is an AMPJP contribution to the life of the Church in Australia.  It also helped our web traffic grow by 26% in the last six month period. You will see the many upcoming events also below as part of the newsletter.

Much of the last month I spent overseas. One highlight was an unannounced visit (we discovered our accommodation was 200m away!) to the Mercy International Centre in Dublin. My wife Virginia and I were given an impromptu private tour and also had the time to reflect at the tomb of Catherine McAuley and in the chapel. A second was the opportunity to stay in and visit the outstanding display at the Loreto’s Bar Convent Heritage Centre in York, England. We couldn’t stay too long as an Australian Loreto pilgrimage had booked out all the accommodation, though we did cross paths with Loreto Ministries chair Margaret Kennedy and some of the pilgrims over breakfast!

While in London I met with Dr Maureen Glackin, the General Secretary of the Catholic Independent Schools’ Conference.  The Conference works with a wide range of Catholic schools in the U.K. and assists them in activities from leadership formation to financial arrangements to assure their survival.  There are quite a number of what we would see as very small Catholic Independent schools, with attendance in the low hundreds, but with a very significant history. Maureen was also able to explain the situation for the Catholic Church in the U.K., and the impact of that on Catholic schools.

Maureen is moving to a position as National RE Advisor at the Catholic Education Service, so that was also of interest.  Much of the organisation of RE curriculum and Formation in the U.K. is at a national level, due no doubt in part to having a small geographical spread.

Recently I held discussions with ACU’s Jamie Calder SJ and with Broken Bay Institute’s Gerard Moore. ACU’s Ministry Leadership Program and BBI’s Catholic enhanced AICD Company Director’s course (to be held in 2025) are two key  opportunities for executive leaders in the Church, including directors and canonical stewards/trustees. Both are very well received by participants, and many more in leadership of Catholic ministries would benefit from participating. They bridge the business and ministry elements of the work of MPJPs and other Catholic organisations. They also require serious financial commitments by organisations, but this must be considered in terms of the substantial percentage of turnover that Catholic ministries operating in a secular society will need to spend on formation to maintain and grow their Catholic mission and identity.

This upcoming month of May features Wisdom Circles for our canonical stewards/trustees around Australia, the further development of the AMPJP Strategic Direction and the development of the next CORMSAA Forum on how to work together to meet the needs of smaller Catholic school authorities with only one or two schools.

If you would like more information about any of the above, please email me at executive.director@ampjp.org.au