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Bishop Sproxton address school leaders on Secondary Principals Day


Bishop Donald Sproxton celebrates Mass during the 2019 Australian Catholic Youth Festival, held at the Perth Convention & Exhibition Centre. Photo: Feby Plando.

By Amanda Murthy

Perth Catholic Secondary School principals gathered at the Catholic Education WA Office in Leederville on Friday 26 June for a day of prayer, networking and reflection for the Secondary Principals Day.

Several principals attended the event virtually, with the use of an online platform, with social distancing measures still in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Keynote speaker, Auxiliary Bishop Donald Sproxton, shared stories about his spiritual journey and spoke about the future of the Archdiocese of Perth.

“One of my great influences was my teacher Christian Brother Peter Mitchell, who taught me unforgettable lessons, beyond the theories of teaching,” Bishop Sproxton said.

“He was able to relate to us and gave us practical lessons on how to be Christian gentlemen.

“Peter went on to work in the Tasmanian Catholic Education Office and developed what we know today as ‘Making Jesus Real’ (MJR), a school program on how to know and live with the mind and heart of Jesus,” he added.

The MJR series is a set of values-based learning resources that link faith and spirituality with the practicality of everyday life.


Perth Auxiliary Bishop Donald Sproxton engaged with Catholic secondary school principals to share his journey and update the leaders on the current events of the Church. Photo: Ron Tan.

Bishop Sproxton went on to explain that today, the program has become increasingly popular, with many Catholic primary and secondary schools adapting it.

“It was largely due to Peter’s popularity with my fellow students, that two went on to join the formation to become Christian Brothers at the Juniorate in Geraldton,” Bishop Sproxton said.

“It was about that time, that I started thinking of a vocation to be a brother as well. However, in the high school years that followed, this idea began to fade.

“The question of a vocation re-entered my thinking when I entered Year 12, but my direction had changed, and I answered the call the priesthood the year after that.” he cited.

Bishop Sproxton then spoke about the Plenary Council’s progress, explaining that the council will now commence in October 2021.

“This period of discernment began with the listening stage where everyone was encouraged to express our concerns and issues, considering the situation of the Catholic Church in Australia in our time, the voicing of our hopes and dreams for our church,” he said.

“The second stage was to reflect on the material that came forward, with this scripture in mind: ‘Listen to what the Spirit is saying!’.”


Bishop Sproxton addressed Catholic secondary school principals who gathered for a morning of prayer, networking and celebration on the Secondary Principals Day, held on 26 June at the Catholic Education Office of WA. Photo: Ron Tan.

The major themes emerged that could be taken on by the council; writing teams are producing the documents that will be used to draft the Instrumentum Laboris for the Plenary sessions, Bishop Sproxton stated.

“The experience of having a Plenary Council will prepare us for the development of synodality, as proposed by Pope Francis.” he added.

Reflecting on the Archdiocesan Plan, established in 2016, Bishop Sproxton updated the principals on the steps taken by the Archdiocese, with the aim to deliver a Christ-centred, faithful, vibrant, welcoming, inclusive and mission-oriented Church, one which will enrich our own lives and the lives of all whom we encounter and seek to serve.

“It is likely that we will meet to review the Archdiocesan Plan and to develop a new plan for the next five years,” Bishop Sproxton expressed.

“This meeting would be the opportunity to convene our first synod.

“It seems possible that synods could become markers along the way as we move into the Church’s future,” he continued.


Principals from local Catholic secondary schools were able to share stories, and learn more about Bishop Sproxton’s vocation, the Plenary Council, the Archdiocesan Plan and other current affairs of the church during the Secondary Principals Day, held on 26 June at the Catholic Education Office of WA. Photo: Ron Tan.

Towards the end of his address, Bishop Sproxton spoke of the efforts carried out in the Archdiocese in response to the abuse of minors and vulnerable people, particularly in the establishment of the Safeguarding Project in 2015.

He thanked CEWA and the principals for their continual effort in trying to ensure that Catholic schools are safe for everyone.

“The Royal Commission had recommended that dioceses recognise and utilise the policies that education and social service agencies of the church so that their own policies would be enhanced,” Bishop Sproxton concluded.