Catholic Education Leader to retire after 50 years of service
After 50 years of service to Catholic education, Ms Maria Kirkwood Chief Executive Officer and Director of Catholic Education in the Diocese of Sale will retire on December 23.
Ms Kirkwood has held her current role with Diocese of Sale Catholic Education Limited (DOSCEL) since 2012, leading 38 Catholic primary and five Catholic secondary schools in the Diocese which spans from the outer Melbourne suburbs of Narre Warren and Cranbourne throughout Gippsland to Orbost in the east of Victoria. Prior to this Ms Kirkwood held various executive positions with the then Catholic Education Office Melbourne, now Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools (MACS), as well as principalship, leadership and teaching positions at Catholic schools in Victoria.
A thankyou Mass and dinner were held in Traralgon to bring together Parish Clergy, DOSCEL Board Directors, and education leaders to honour Ms Kirkwood who has been a champion of innovation and change in Catholic Education.
Video messages from two former Bishops of Sale, Archbishop Christopher Prowse and Archbishop Patrick O’Regan were played during the evening along with messages from many Catholic primary and secondary schools.
Speaking at the dinner, Bishop of Sale, Most Reverend Greg Bennet, said Catholic school communities throughout the Diocese had benefitted enormously from Maria’s giftedness as an educator, her competence as an administrator and her dynamism as a faith leader.
“Maria’s collaboration with the previous Bishops of Sale, in preparing an innovative and creative way of governing Catholic education in the Diocese of Sale, has now been replicated in the other three Dioceses in Victoria. Her contribution to the process of incorporation and to ensuring that
schools and their communities are appropriately funded and supported by the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria (CECV) is acknowledged and respected by the education community.”
DOSCEL Board Chair, Mr Garry McLean, said Maria Kirkwood’s vision to deliver the highest quality educational opportunities and outcomes for every student in every school in the Diocese is testimony to her deep commitment and dedication. Her commitment to Catholic education has inspired colleagues, Parish Priests, clergy, staff of the Catholic Education office, school personnel and enriched the lives of all those with whom she has worked over many years.
Reflecting on five decades in Catholic education, Ms Kirkwood said her time in the Diocese of Sale was the happiest personally, and the most fulfilling professionally.
“The role of Director has been enormously supported and valued by the Bishop and Clergy, our dynamic Board of Directors and Committee members, and the many talented teams and individuals in our schools and Catholic Education office.”
Ms Kirkwood said she has been asked on numerous occasions over the years to talk about her ‘career’ but stated, “I don’t believe I have had a career, what I have had is a life in which my work was a major part and the vast majority of that wor- life has been with Catholic education and the Catholic Church more broadly”.
Reflecting on leadership opportunities over the years, Ms Kirkwood’s said she learned to ignore negative voices about what women can and cannot do, having been told on several occasions not to apply for positions to which she was ultimately appointed.
Ms Kirkwood said it had been a great pleasure to work with so many passionate and committed leaders and staff throughout her working life.
“My sincere thanks to everyone I have had the privilege to work with. Our Catholic schools have such a strong and assured future because of the passionate leaders and staff and the wonderful work they do every day.”
Following her last day on December 23, Mr Paul Velten will commence in the role as Chief Executive Officer/Director of Catholic Education from December 24.
Paul Velten is known to many in the Diocese through his current work as a member of the DOSCEL Executive team in the role of Chief Finance, Information & Infrastructure Officer. He has held a number of roles within the Catholic Church and its agencies in the Diocese of Sale and the Archdiocese of Melbourne. Paul is also a member of several committees of the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria (CECV) and a Board Member of the Catholic Development Fund Archdiocese of Melbourne.
Media Inquiries: DOSCEL Media and Communications team
0417 534 232.