August 23, 2012
Sister Catherine Clark, who is well known not only in South Australia but throughout the wider Australian education community, has been described by Dr Paul Sharkey, Director of Catholic Education in SA as “ a wonderful witness to the strong spirit of Mary MacKillop” and as one who has “a courageous capacity to speak out on behalf of those most in need.”
|Dr Paul Sharkey and Catherine Clark rsj|
Catherine Clark, who trained in early childhood as well as secondary education, commenced teaching in the Catholic Education System at St. Peter Claver’s School, Dulwich when she entered the Josephites in 1962. After her return from the Novitiate in Sydney in 1966 she taught at Mary MacKillop College Kensington, where she had been a student some years before. Her next appointment was to St. Joseph’s, Port Lincoln, after which she joined the staff of St. Michael’s De La Salle College, Henley Beach. From there she went as Principal to Port Lincoln and subsequently she held the same position at Mary MacKillop College, Kensington.
In 1990 Catherine accepted a six year appointment as Provincial Leader of the Sisters of St. Joseph in South Australia. During that time she took a great interest in all Josephite schools and strengthened and developed relationships with those school communities at a time when fewer Josephite Sisters were teaching in them.
Although Catherine did not return to a formal role in a school setting at the end of her time as Provincial, she maintained her commitment to education through her work on various Education Boards and Committees. Today she is still the Minister of Education’s representative on the State Planning Committee for Non-Government Schools, she chairs the Catholic Religious Australia Education Committee and serves on Boards and Committees related to education and accommodation for homeless women.
Catherine is well known to staff of Catholic schools because of her availability as a dynamic and challenging speaker not only on Mary MacKillop and her charism but also on the diverse challenges of being Catholic in the context of today’s economic and social need. Her particular expertise in making charism integral to the work of boards and communities has led to her working with the National Stewardship bodies of other Religious Congregations in their ministries in Health and Aged Care and Social Welfare as well as in Education.
Catherine continues her involvement in Catholic Education through her work with newly appointed leaders in Catholic Schools and by holding positions on various committees associated with education, such as the Catholic Education’s Political Strategy Planning Group. She had been engaged as a keynote speaker at the upcoming national Primary Principals’ Conferences. She is also involved in the production of the Mission and Education Series being published by the Broken Bay Institute, continues to work with schools in their exploration of Charism as a grounding of the gospel in the context of today’s society and is available to School Boards in their exploration of what lies at the heart of Governance in today’s Catholic School.
Over the past several weeks, organised formal and informal gatherings have enabled the wider community to show gratitude to Catherine, particularly for her contribution to education in SA. The latest such Community Farewell Gathering was held at Mary MacKillop College, Kensington on July 25th. It was attended by many friends and dignitaries, including Emeritus Archbishop Leonard Faulkner, the Honourable Grace Portalesi, Minister of Education in SA, Dr Paul Sharkey, Director of Catholic Education in the Adelaide Archdiocese, Mrs Kathy McEvoy, Director of Catholic Education in the Port Pirie Diocese, and Mr. Gary Le Duff, Chair of the Independent Schools Board of SA. A standing ovation was a fitting conclusion to the formal proceedings of the evening!
At each celebration Catherine has been congratulated for her vital and generous involvement in education in SA in the role of Chairperson of the SA Commission for Catholic Schools and acknowledged as a truly great educator and woman religious.