End of Year Message

08 December 2023

Dear Colleagues, Parents, and friends of Catholic Education

The season of Advent is a time where, as Christians we prepare to celebrate the joyous birth of Christ. It is also a time to reflect on the year that has passed where the positive influence of Catholic education on the lives of students and communities has been experienced across our state.

CEWA continues to grow, with Emmaus Catholic Primary School opening this year and enrolments across the state have surpassed 80,000 students. We take very seriously the trust families place in our schools when they choose a Catholic education and remain committed to offering the choice of a faith-based, affordable, and accessible education to those families who seek one.

Within Catholic schools, young people are supported to nurture their God-given talents and become contributing members of our community. Each year we celebrate the outstanding initiatives underway in our schools through the Quality Catholic Education Awards, and this year we had a record number of nominees reflecting the excellence and leadership in Christian service, academia, arts, and sports. Young musicians and artists also displayed their talents in the Spirit of the Arts Festival and Angelico Art Exhibition with more entries than ever before.

Whilst we have thankfully moved into a post-pandemic environment, this year’s rising cost of living has added pressure to the families we serve and required creative thinking on the part of school leaders to ensure that we continue to meet the needs of our parents and students. Catholic schools are best placed to do this because our staff give of themselves to ensure our school communities are flourishing places of faith and learning.

As you are aware, I will conclude my time as Executive Director of Catholic Education Western Australia at the end of 2023. After 18 years on the executive team, with the last six as the Executive Director, I finish knowing that Catholic education will continue to grow and enable young people to flourish. We have a wonderful educational system that is Christ-centred and child focused. Over this time, I have personally grown in my vocation as a Catholic educator, and I have thoroughly enjoyed my engagement with staff, students, parents, and parishes throughout Western Australia.

As we enter this time of preparation for the birth of Christ, the second reading from the first Sunday of Advent struck me as a capture of gratitude as we conclude the school year – gratitude to God for all that God provides us in CEWA, gratitude to the bishops of Western Australia who provide their pastoral and wise leadership; gratitude to our Commission who are exceptional stewards of our System; gratitude to the leaders and staff in schools and offices over the many years that have contributed to this wonderful enterprise; gratitude to our parents who have chosen this faith-based educational environment for their most precious child and give of their time so willingly to assist in such diverse ways; gratitude to the countless clergy, religious and lay men and women who support the schools through parish life and so much more, and of course to our students who so willingly give of themselves in their own special way day in and day out.

I conclude with these words from the Advent reading: 1 Corinthians 1:3-9, slightly adapted!

I never stop thanking God for all the graces (we) have received through Jesus Christ. I thank God that (we) have been enriched in so many ways, especially in (our) teachers and preachers; the witness to Christ has indeed been strong among (us) so that (we) will not be without any of the gifts of the Spirit while (we) are waiting for the Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed; and God will keep (us) steady and without blame until the last day, the day of our Lord Jesus Christ, because God by calling (us) to his Son, has joined (us) to his Son, Jesus Christ; and God is faithful.

Wishing you and your loved ones the joy and peace of Christmas time.

Yours sincerely
Dr Debra Sayce
Executive Director

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