Bishop announces retirement of diocese’s beloved Director of Schools Peter Turner
August 7, 2019
Catholic education, Bishop Brian Mascord
I write to convey, to you, the news that Mr Peter Turner has advised me of his intention to retire from his position as the director of schools at the end of 2019. This news will be met in many ways. As a community, we can be delighted for Peter and his wife Yvonne, but we can also clearly recognise that his departure from this role represents a most significant loss for our diocesan community. Peter has made a difference to the lives of thousands of students, their families and staff and through his leadership he has directly advanced the mission of evangelisation of the Church here in the Diocese of Wollongong and throughout the Church in Australia.
As an educator and leader, Peter has made an exceptional contribution to Catholic education in a career spanning more than 45 years. As director of schools, he has been preeminent as an advocate, negotiator and architect of authentic, effective Catholic schools and systems, in this diocese and beyond, at state, national and international levels. Peter is renowned for his broad expertise across the sector, particularly in the areas of school improvement, spiritual formation and the building of teacher and staff capacity. The extent of Peter’s knowledge and experience is quite remarkable and cannot really be measured. Most notably, he was the foundation principal of two large secondary Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Sydney, and as regional director of the Southern Region of the Archdiocese of Sydney for five years. Peter’s positive impact on so many people, both personally and professionally, through their association with him, is vast. He has formed many lasting friendships and close partnerships over the years, and these will be hopefully sustained throughout his retirement.
Peter will forever be admired as a wise communicator, a relational leader, a man of faith and of integrity, courage, honesty, stewardship and compassion. He has been unwavering in his profound commitment to the learning, wellbeing, growth and nurturing of faith of each individual child and young person in our care. He truly has lived the experience of knowing Jesus and making him known and loved. Peter has guided our diocesan school system through significant challenges and emerging issues, including complex changes to the governance structures and funding models for Catholic schools across NSW. His collaborations have built strong and lasting partnerships with parents, staff, government, the wider education sector and the community more broadly. Peter has worked tirelessly to strengthen the links between priests and principals, parishes and schools, and he has made a substantial contribution to the pastoral life of our diocese as a whole, not just in education.
Since his appointment in 2007, Peter has enjoyed the confidence and trust of the leadership of the diocese at all levels. As director of schools he has been a source of knowledge, strength, presence, encouragement, good judgement and wise counsel for my predecessor Bishop Emeritus Peter Ingham and, more recently, for me. We are both deeply grateful to Peter for his personal and professional support, wisdom, collegiality and loyalty throughout his time in the diocese. I would particularly like to acknowledge and sincerely thank Peter’s wife Yvonne for walking this journey faithfully with him, for allowing and encouraging him to respond to this ministry. I would also like to thank Peter’s family, for the wonderful support and love they give him. We wish the whole Turner family every happiness and pray for God’s blessing on them over the years ahead.
A comprehensive selection and discernment process to appoint a new director of schools will now commence, with a view to providing a suitable period to allow a smooth transition to occur. With Catholic Education Diocese of Wollongong’s vision and strategic direction 2019-2022, Lighting the Way, well established, and a focus on our shared commitment to continuous school improvement in place, I feel assured that Peter’s successor will be in a good position to safeguard the continuation of his significant legacy and build upon it.
We will arrange suitable opportunities to acknowledge and celebrate Peter’s contribution to Catholic education in the Diocese of Wollongong. Further details will be communicated in due course. I look forward to joining with you as we extend our thanks and gratitude to Peter and wish him well into the future.
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Our diocesan logo is theologically rich and very succinct. As a hand, it depicts our mission as a diocese and as individuals within the diocese, of bearing (bringing, carrying) Christ’s love to one another and to the world around us. In this, we are the hand of Jesus Christ, and we are offering ourselves to him so that he might work through us.
We can be the bearers of his love only as a response to his call and in the strength of his grace. We are reminded of this in two ways—through the symbol of the dove (the Holy Spirit) also present in the logo, and by the incorporation of the cross that segments the logo. The presence of the cross is a reminder that bearing the love of Christ will inevitably cost us if we live it authentically. However, in the way that the Cross is the portent of redemption and life—an echo of the tree of life in the book of Genesis—so becoming bearers of the love of Christ will also bring us to life.
The four fingers of the hand also represent the four regions of our diocese. The first is bluerepresenting the beautiful water of the Shoalhaven. The second is a blue and green combination representing the waters and escarpment of the Illawarra. The third is greendepicting the hills and plains of the Macarthur. The fourth is dark green illustrating the forests of the Southern Highlands.