Kildare Ministries Newsletter

11 December 2019
Issue Eight

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year on behalf of all of us at Kildare Ministries.


Welcome to Kildare Ministries
Student Leadership Retreat
Christmas Wishes
The Office of Kildare Ministries will be closed for Christmas from the 18th of December and reopens the 21st of January 2019 Calendar Dates
Keep updated!
Kildare Ministries
(03) 9682 2973
54 Beaconsfield Parade
Albert Park, Victoria, 3206


Dear members of the Kildare Ministries Community,


I often hear myself falling into the trap of believing that ‘things’ used to be better in days of old. Kids had better manners, society’s institutions like governments, schools and the police force were respected and people knew what Christmas was truly about. We were excited about giving and receiving presents and I still am! The Italian community gathered, for our yearly reunion at Christmas morning mass and we sang Italian Christmas carols.  We returned home for an abundant Christmas lunch before we were allowed to open presents. Christmas was about reconnecting to our community and remembering what the birth of Christ meant for us, it was about family and being present to each other and finally it was a recognition of our love for each other with a small but precious gift. A gift… ONE! That’s how things used to be …

Now the western world seems caught up in the material world. Speaking at the Vatican on one of the biggest shopping weekends of the year, the first weekend in December, Pope Francis said people should "resist the dazzling lights of consumption" and described it as "a virus that attacks the faith at the roots."  Pope Francis said consumerism makes people believe that life depends only on what they own and not on faith.

But is our desire in material possession so new really? Even Pieter Bruegel a Dutch Artist in the 1500s, who is best known for his ‘artistic’ political was disturbed by the social disorder created by consumerism.  His painting The Adoration of Kings depicts the nativity scene on the arrival of the three Magi.   Kneeling in front of him, they bring the child Jesus the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.  In this painting there is no idealizing of the Mother and Child, nor is there a sense of the divine in the painting.  In fact, Baby Jesus’ face is somewhat shocking to the viewer.  Is Jesus really smirking at the Magi? So too are the elongated bodies of the Magi, with their disturbing long thin fingers. And what is the viewer to make of their faces! 

Judging by their gaze, Bruegel’s soldiers and town people are more interested in the gifts that the Magi are offering than in Jesus.  Bruegel’s nativity is not one of holiness, reverence or joy that the saviour has been born but a satirical commentary on human psychology.  We particularly notice the townsman on the extreme right who is looking at the black Magus, wearing exaggerated spectacles. The National Gallery of Boston, in their dissertation contend, that perhaps Bruegel is suggesting that those around Jesus at this time were ‘blind’ to his significance. Bruegel has used spectacles to signify in an ironic manner the inability of the subject to see the truth.   Bruegel’s powerful painting, intrigues the viewer as he makes comments on the declining significance of the true meaning of Christmas by depicting our human failings and social disorder…. And this was in 1564!

Pope Francis began Advent this year with a trip to the Italian town of Greccio, where St. Francis of Assisi created the first nativity scene in 1223. Since then many artists and sculptures have tried to genuinely communicate the Gospel.  The Pope writes, “our Christmas story is like setting out on a spiritual journey, drawn by the humility of the God who became man in order to encounter every man and woman”. According to the Pope, the nativity or the creche "shows God’s tender love” by placing the mystery of the divine within an ordinary setting. More than that, he added, the lowly setting of Christ’s birth “summons us to follow him along the path of humility, poverty and self-denial that leads from the manger of Bethlehem to the cross.”

So this Christmas, let’s not be sentimental about the way Christmas used to be and romanticise our part in it.  Let’s understand that for centuries humans have been tempted by the seduction of consumerism so let us instead join Pope Francis in reminding ourselves and our loved ones that Christmas is about the simple and precious things in life. Our open and embracing encounter with one another and the love we share.  


In closing, I would like to acknowledge the work of the Trustees and their support of us in the Office  and of course  of all the Ministries as well. They are interested and engaged in all that we do and the wise counsel and insightful addition  is always welcomed and well received.  Thank you Rosemary and Maree as our co-chairs, Brigid, Vicky, Anne and Kathy. 

To the Mission and Ministry Team - a big thank you to each.  We are a small but highly effective team, who support each other and work as a team to ensure our response is professional and welcoming.   Thank you Jeff, Andrea, Padraig and Monica.     

All of us here at Kildare Ministries, wish every one of you and your families a very Merry Christmas with peace, joy and hope filling your days. 



Erica Pegorer

Executive Director

Kildare Ministries




Click here to see our special Christmas message!


Vicki Ward
KM Trustee

Kildare Ministries farewelled our Trustee Vicki Ward at the last meeting in early December. Not only was Vicki an inaugural member of the Trustees but also part of the Implementation Committees leading up to the launch of Kildare Ministries.  It is true that she was ‘borrowed’ from the Board at Brigidine College, Indooroopilly before agreeing to join the Trustees.   Her vast experience in Catholic education and governance was enormously helpful as each committee discerned the best model for the governance of Kildare Ministries and for the setting up of the Office of the Trustees. 

Kildare Ministries has been enriched by Vicki’s passion and commitment for Catholic education, her depth of spirituality and wide knowledge of educational trends and developments. We have valued Vicki’s wisdom and intuition and particularly her own deep faith in shaping the narrative and bringing the KM values to life. Her participation in the Finance Committee and commitment to building relationships with the ministries within Kildare Ministries has been indicative of her great generosity and deep sense of service.

Kildare Ministries is deeply appreciative of Vicki’s contribution to the work of establishing our new ecclesial entity over the past six years. We miss here dearly and we wish Vicki every happiness for the future and know that closer to home many groups will benefit from her faith-filled service, wisdom and generosity. 


Andrea Grant
KM Mission Leader

We farewell Andrea Grant who has been with us for 3.5yrs as Mission Leader.  In her time with us we have seen the deepening of our KM narrative, the development of our values and a focused direction in terms of our formation programmes. Andrea has enjoyed the spiritual dimension of her work, especially the Founding Grace retreat and the Pilgrimage to Ireland, which she has successfully lead on two occasions.


Andrea has made strong connection with the Faith and Mission Leaders of our schools and has provided guidance and advice to the Justice Co-ordinators.  Through her work and writing we know that Andrea enjoys reading, especially theological readings and she has been most generous in sharing her reflections and insights.  Her absence will be felt in our Office, as will her many skills and talents. We also recognised in Andrea her own deep faith and commitment and her need now to direct her energies to the young people at St Joseph’s.   


We wish her the very best of everything as she begins her new position at Mt St Joseph Girls’ College, Altona, a place where she began as a new teacher some years ago. Go Well, Andrea.


Rachel Connor
Board Chair - Presentation Family Centre

After three years as Chair of the Board and a term as Director before that, Rachel has passed on the baton to Phillip Steele as Chair.  Rachel will continue on as Director for a while and we are all grateful for that!

Rachel has brought to the Board a strategic outlook and a contagious energy and belief that Presentation Family Centre will thrive. She has supported the development of Kildare Ministries and has made herself available to give presentations at the Conference and at network meetings. 


Rachel will be remembered as a people-orientated leader who approaches each situation with a methodological and well-thought out approach. The Board has enormous respect for the way Rachel leads the centre and she will be greatly missed.  Thank you for all that you have done for PFC and KM Rachel.  It has been noticed and appreciated.


Welcome to Kildare Ministries

Catherine Jackson

Catherine is the Director of Leopard Tree Consulting, specialising in the design and facilitation of professional learning programmes to develop, enhance and promote the work of leaders. Catherine’s professional experience in the education sector spans early childhood, primary, secondary and tertiary education in three states of Australia, as well as consultancy experience in Australia and internationally. She has rich professional experience in system leadership roles in Queensland, New South Wales and Victorian schooling systems. In these contexts, she has served as Teacher, Education Officer, Principal, District Supervisor, System Head of Curriculum and Director of School Services with Brisbane Catholic Education. Catherine’s passion is developing the next generation of leaders and her work spans leadership coaching, leadership team development and facilitation of professional learning. Catherine holds a Diploma of Teaching, Bachelor of Education, Graduate Certificate in Religious Education, Master of Leadership and has undertaken post-graduate study in theology at Boston College, USA. Catherine is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management and a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. She is married to Liam, has two adult children and spends her out of work time between homes in Brisbane and Maleny. She is very much enjoying her current portfolio career which enables her to contribute in different ways including not-for-profit Boards and community and Church organisations.

Denis Fitzgerald

For 12 years until October 2019 Denis was Executive Director of Catholic Social Services Victoria, an umbrella body for 50 Catholic agencies, including the Brigidine Asylum Seeker Project and Wellsprings for Women, two of the ministries of Kildare Ministries.  In that role Denis was active in public policy advocacy in many areas, including criminal justice, human rights, Government budget priorities, child and family wellbeing and refugee support.  He also led reflection on mission and its practical implications in Catholic social services providers and parishes, and was the convenor of a series of conferences and books in this area.  Under Denis’ leadership, Catholic Social Services Victoria was active within the Church in promoting an awareness of family violence and constructive responses, and in seeking a just and compassionate response to victims and survivors of child sexual abuse, including best practice preventative measures.

Denis’ earlier careers were as an Australian diplomat, which included three years as Australian High Commissioner to Nauru; and senior executive roles with the Victorian Government, in the areas of taxation and consumer protection.  He has qualifications in philosophy, business, public policy and theology.

Denis is currently engaged in a range of governance roles and in direct service provision, all related to those on the margins of society and to the mission of the Church to be ‘for the poor’.  These roles include being a board member at Corpus Christi Community Greenvale, a member of the Finance Advisory Committee with the Missionary Sisters of Service, a volunteer in prison chaplaincy, and involvement in parish ministries providing support for people seeking asylum and for boarding house residents in inner-Melbourne suburbs.

Renee Oberin
Acting KM Mission Leader

It is with great pleasure that we welcome Renee Oberin as Acting Mission Leader for the first six months next year.  Renee is known to many of us as the Acting Faith and Mission Leader for St Joseph’s in Echuca. Renee  is married to Dean and has lived in Echuca for 20 years. They have three daughters; Mia, Tori and Cleo. Mia has just finished Year 12, Tori is entering Year 12 and Cleo is entering Year 10. As was flagged with Principals and Leaders in November, Renee was already joining KM as a Project Officer to imbed the Living Justice Charter in our ministries.  We see this as an extension to this work.


Congratulations Renee and thank you St Joseph’s for lending her to us.  We hope your time with KM will be a rewarding one.         

Student Leadership Retreat

On 4-6 December we had the great pleasure of holding our second annual Student Leadership Retreat at Presentation Family Centre.  Two 2020 Year 12 leaders from 10 schools gathered to explore leadership through the Kildare Ministries lens with a particular focus on the 2020 value of Justice and the Kildare Ministries Living Justice Charter.   Enormous thanks to the staff who put much time and effort in during a very busy period.  We are also very grateful to the support of Kilbreda College for hosting the welcome lunch and to Lisa Gray and the staff at Presentation Family Centre for their hospitality.


The following reflection has been prepared by Macy O'Sullivan, an incoming Year 12 Leader from Star of the Sea College;-

"Beginning at Kilbreda College in Mentone – students from Kildare Ministries schools across Australia embarked on a 3 day leadership retreat to Balnarring in Victoria. Across the course of retreat, we kept the aims of reflection and collaboration in mind, as we explored the 2020 theme – Justice – making the needs of the vulnerable paramount. Together, we worked to unpack this stimulus and explore the ways in which we as leaders can guide students to appreciate and understand what this truly means.


Our first session explored the history of the land we call home, and our responsibility to care for and acknowledge the traditional owners as leaders in 2020. Discussing the rich history of Indigenous Australians, we listened to stories from the Dreamtime, and were invited to explore and question our understanding of the past of our young country. As our first evening drew to a close, we moved to our own leadership journeys thus far, and how leadership takes many different forms in different people. It reminded us to celebrate the actions of students in our community next year; both big and small.


The second day commenced with a session led by Bernadette Keating – who educated us on both the Brigidine and Presentation Traditions, and how the Kildare Ministries has progressed to what it is today. The rich legacies left behind by all of our founders reminded us of the story we are soon going to become a part of, and the values which should be at the forefront of our positions next year. The next few sessions informed us of the skills necessary for 21st century leadership and how to successfully and compassionately guide our teams across the course of the year.


Spread throughout the 3 days, we shared meals, were involved in great discussion and formed such great friendships with students from schools all over Australia. It was both interesting and uplifting to share our stories and ideas from our past and future endeavours.


Overall, the retreat provided a wonderful opportunity to facilitate growth and collegiality amongst all Kildare Ministries leaders. We were all reminded of the importance of our 2020 theme – and how to think deeper, striving to inspire students to consider the fact justice and dignity is deserved by all people."




Macy O'Sullivan
Julia Fullard
Jordan Chisholm
Saskia Frake
Sophie Foley 
Abbey Cook 
Ruby Ady
Katelyn Goulas
Natarsha Vidulic
Charlotte Cuda
Amy Harris
Aidan Newson
Amatullah Mansurwala
Olivia Ruggiero
Farah Besisou
Dahlia Cremona
Grace Wilson
Christine Nabalarua
Emily Mitchell
Emmy McDougal

Christmas Wishes

Please click below to watch a special Christmas message from the Mission and Ministry team.









The Office of Kildare Ministries will be closed for Christmas from the 18th of December and reopens the 21st of January

2019 Calendar Dates

KEM Office Reopens

21st January


KEM Principals Meetings

11th March

10th June

31st August


KM Principals and Leaders Meeting

10th March

9th June

27th November


KEM Business Managers

23rd March (Kilbreda College)

16th October


KM Chairs of the Board Network

8th May

3-4th September (Venue tbc)


Justice Coordinators

17th February

6th May (Online)

25th August (Online)

6th November





Faith Leaders

25th February

30th April- 1st May (2 days)

21st August

6th November


Student Seminar 

5th-6th March (Amberley)

13th May

28th October


Kildare Ministries Conference

5-7th August 



Student Leadership Retreat

7-9th December


New Staff Induction

17th March (1/2)

1st September (2/2)


New Leaders Seminar

21st February (1/2)

28th August (2/2)


Founding Grace Retreat

13-15th May

Keep updated!

Kildare Ministries Newsletter
The Adoration of the Magi (Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1564)