News Blog

Celebrating Volunteers in Catholic Schools

June 1, 2013

Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Broken Bay are fortunate to have many dedicated parishioner volunteers. 

They help to strengthen the link between school and parish communities giving generously of their time, care and expertise.  They are much loved members of their school communities, and while often they do not seek recognition, their contributions are invaluable. 

Five schools have celebrated their extraordinary volunteers.

Kevin Malone has volunteered for over twenty five years
School: St Kieran’s Catholic School, Manly Vale

There isn’t much that Kevin Malone doesn’t know about St Kieran’s Catholic School in Manly Vale.  After opening up the parish hall for before school care each morning, he is onsite until the finish of the school day assisting pedestrians at afternoon drive-through.  In addition Kevin monitors traffic flow at morning drop off, helps with the lunchtime walk to the local oval and is an active member of the school’s WHS committee helping to identify maintenance issues and develop safety policies. 

It’s no wonder that the school community – parents, students and staff hold him in such high regard.  St Kieran’s Principal, Terri Paterson is grateful for the very special link that Kevin and the school have.

“Kevin’s volunteer role is really a vocation and we are so fortunate to have him here.  He knows every family and every teacher, we love having him here, and he loves being here – it’s a great partnership!”

“We are celebrating our 60th school anniversary this year.  Kevin has been a big part of our history and has such great knowledge of the combined history of our parish and school – he is a great role model for our close-knit community.”

Jack Costa has volunteered for over forty years
School: St Mary Star of the Sea Catholic School, Terrigal

A commitment to engaging learning and Catholic faith has ensured that parishioner Jack Costa is a much loved part of Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic School at Terrigal.  For over forty years Jack has used his exceptional engineering and carpentry skills to create working mechanical models that he regularly takes along to classes to explain how they operate. The school simply knows them as ‘Jack’s Marvellous Machines’ and thousands of students have been captivated over the years by Jack’s creations including marble runs and an intricate wooden ferris wheel.

Jack’s devotion to the Church sees him hand carve a wooden cross each year for each new student and each October during the Month of the Rosary, Jack organises a rosary procession for the students. 

Phil Bretherton, Principal at Our Lady Star of the Sea says that the school community has been inspired by Jack’s great wisdom and faith.

“Each year our Year 6 students identify what discipleship means to them.  Jack has made such an amazing impact on our school community, I think half of the Year 6 responses identify Jack as what discipleship means to them – what a remarkable legacy.”

Dave Lethbridge has volunteered in Kindergarten for the past two and a half years
School: St Patrick’s Catholic School, Asquith

In 2011 Dave Lethbridge approached St Patrick’s Catholic School in Asquith looking to volunteer at the school.  He started working in Kindergarten one day per week – now two and a half years down the track neither Dave nor the school would have it any other way.

Dave explains that after an early retirement he really wanted to be a part of something and have a challenge.  After volunteering at St Patrick’s in the past when a parent he is treasuring being back.

“The children are so beautiful, so amazing – they shower you with love yet they are so brutally honest in such a loving way! The rewards go both ways.”

St Patrick’s Principal, Robert Peers believes that Dave’s work has now become entrenched in the school culture.

“Dave participated in the Parent Classroom Training Day and the next day he started volunteering in our Kindergarten classes.  He is so highly thought of by our students, teachers and parents that I would have a riot on my hands if he moved from Kindergarten!”

Coralie Shrivell has volunteered in reading recovery for seven years
School: St John’s Catholic School, Narraweena

The children at St John’s Catholic School, Narraweena understand the value of volunteering. They experience its effects everyday.  A committed group of parents and parishioners support the students in the school’s reading program.

Coralie Shrivell who turns 80 this year, has volunteered at the school three mornings a week to help the children with their reading for seven years.

School principal, Mark Bateman, said that the volunteers play an important role in helping the children with their reading but also in creating caring relationships. This helps the children’s self-esteem and it engenders a sense of appreciation in the children for these wonderful people.

“Coralie came to me at the end of last year to say that she was thinking of retiring from reading duty. She returned a couple of weeks later to say she’d miss it too much, so she decided to keep going!”

All volunteers at St John’s are trained and cared for by the school’s Learning Support Teachers Eirene Vidler and Julie Kelly.

Sr Pat McGrath SGS has volunteered for seventeen years
School: St Agatha’s Catholic School, Pennant Hills

Full of joie de vivre, Sr Pat contributes generously to several classrooms at St Agatha’s every week, with demand for her assistance highly sought. She cheerfully supports individual children or small groups and patiently encourages them in their learning.

Year One teacher at St Agatha’s, Mrs Madeline Olding said that Sr Pat often walks from the convent to St Agatha’s, in all weather conditions, and always abounds with energy and enthusiasm.

“Sr Pat truly exemplifies the Catholic values we try to instil in our children and in our own lives. Worldly goods are not important to Sr Pat and she finds happiness in the smallest things that we often take for granted. It’s not only the students that adore Sr Pat, the St Agatha’s staff also appreciate her company in the classroom and the staffroom.  She is a bright beacon for us all to follow.”

A kind and gentle soul, Sr Pat is highly esteemed and cherished by children, staff and parents at St Agatha’s.